When you’re peering at leaves through the lens of your camera, trying to identify a cool new plant in your yard, you might notice some weird lines along the leaves. These lines are called veins, and not just because they look like your veins. Plant veins are actually quite similar to human veins in many ways.
What do plants veins do?
In short, plant veins provide structure and support to plant leaves while also transporting water, nutrients, and energy to the rest of the plant.
When plants absorb water and nutrients through their roots, they use their vascular system to move the water and nutrients up into the rest of the plant. There are two principal tissue types that make up the veins of plants:
- The xylem moves water and minerals. This flows from the plant’s roots upwards.
- The phloem moves food energy around the plant. This flows in whichever direction the plant needs it to flow.
These two tissue types make up the “vascular bundle” of the plant.
Aside from moving minerals and nutrients around, veins help a plant hold its shape. Veins form the midrib of the leaf, which gives a leaf structure.
What do plant leaves do?
Leaves help absorb sunlight and carbon dioxide (CO2), and a leaf is actually an organ of the plant. Without sunlight and CO2, plants would be unable to photosynthesize, so there’s a good reason some plants go a bit crazy on leaf production!
Plant leaves come in a variety of shapes and size, as we discussed in our article on garden plant identification. While we often think of broad and flat leaves, pine needles are also leaves.
The leaf and the vein of a plant work together to put CO2, energy from sunlight, and nutrients and minerals to work in doing whatever the plant needs to get done.