Plant anatomy
Plant anatomy or phytotomy is the general term for the study of the internal structure
Anatomy is a branch of biology and medicine that is the consideration of the structure of living things. It is a general term that includes human anatomy, animal anatomy , and plant anatomy...

 of plants. While originally it included plant morphology
Plant morphology
Plant morphology or phytomorphology is the study of the physical form and external structure of plants. This is usually considered distinct from plant anatomy, which is the study of the internal structure of plants, especially at the microscopic level...

, which is the description of the physical form and external structure of plants, since the mid-20th century the investigations of plant anatomy are considered a separate, distinct field, and plant anatomy refers to just the internal plant structures. Plant anatomy is now frequently investigated at the cellular level, and often involves the sectioning of tissue
Tissue (biology)
Tissue is a cellular organizational level intermediate between cells and a complete organism. A tissue is an ensemble of cells, not necessarily identical, but from the same origin, that together carry out a specific function. These are called tissues because of their identical functioning...

s and microscopy
Microscopy is the technical field of using microscopes to view samples and objects that cannot be seen with the unaided eye...


Structural divisions

Plant anatomy is sometimes divided into the following categories:
Flower anatomy
A sepal is a part of the flower of angiosperms . Collectively the sepals form the calyx, which is the outermost whorl of parts that form a flower. Usually green, sepals have the typical function of protecting the petals when the flower is in bud...

Gynoecium is most commonly used as a collective term for all carpels in a flower. A carpel is the ovule and seed producing reproductive organ in flowering plants. Carpels are derived from ovule-bearing leaves which evolved to form a closed structure containing the ovules...

Leaf anatomy
Leaf anatomy
Stem anatomy
Stem structure
Fruit/Seed anatomy
Ovule means "small egg". In seed plants, the ovule is the structure that gives rise to and contains the female reproductive cells. It consists of three parts: The integument forming its outer layer, the nucellus , and the megaspore-derived female gametophyte in its center...

Seed structure
Accessory fruit
Accessory fruit
An accessory fruit is a fruit in which some of the flesh is derived not from the ovary but from some adjacent tissue exterior to the carpel. Examples of accessory tissue are the receptacle of strawberries, figs, or mulberries, and the calyx of Gaultheria procumbens or Syzygium jambos...

Wood anatomy
Bark is the outermost layers of stems and roots of woody plants. Plants with bark include trees, woody vines and shrubs. Bark refers to all the tissues outside of the vascular cambium and is a nontechnical term. It overlays the wood and consists of the inner bark and the outer bark. The inner...

In vascular plants, phloem is the living tissue that carries organic nutrients , in particular, glucose, a sugar, to all parts of the plant where needed. In trees, the phloem is the innermost layer of the bark, hence the name, derived from the Greek word "bark"...

Vascular cambium
Vascular cambium
The vascular cambium is a part of the morphology of plants. It consists of cells that are partly specialized, for the tissues that transport water solutions, but have not reached any of the final forms that occur in their branch of the specialization graph...

Heartwood and sapwood
branch collar
Branch collar
A branch collar is the attachment structure in woody plants that connects a branch to its parent branch or to the trunk. The branch collar consists of overlapping wood fibers....

Root anatomy
Root structure


About 300 BCE Theophrastus
Theophrastus , a Greek native of Eresos in Lesbos, was the successor to Aristotle in the Peripatetic school. He came to Athens at a young age, and initially studied in Plato's school. After Plato's death he attached himself to Aristotle. Aristotle bequeathed to Theophrastus his writings, and...

 wrote a number of plant treatises, only two of which survive. He developed concepts of plant morphology and classification, which did not withstand the scientific scrutiny of the Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...


A Swiss physician and botanist, Gaspard Bauhin
Gaspard Bauhin
Gaspard Bauhin, or Caspar Bauhin , was a Swiss botanist who wrote Pinax theatri botanici , which described thousands of plants and classified them in a manner that draws comparisons to the later binomial nomenclature of Linnaeus...

, introduced binomial nomenclature
Binomial nomenclature
Binomial nomenclature is a formal system of naming species of living things by giving each a name composed of two parts, both of which use Latin grammatical forms, although they can be based on words from other languages...

 into plant taxonomy
Taxonomy is the science of identifying and naming species, and arranging them into a classification. The field of taxonomy, sometimes referred to as "biological taxonomy", revolves around the description and use of taxonomic units, known as taxa...

. He published Pinax theatri botanici in 1596, which was the first to use this convention for naming of species. His criteria for classification included natural relationships, or 'affinities', which in many cases were structural.

Italian doctor and microscopist, Marcello Malpighi
Marcello Malpighi
Marcello Malpighi was an Italian doctor, who gave his name to several physiological features, like the Malpighian tubule system.-Early years:...

, was one of the two founders of plant anatomy. In 1671 he published his Anatomia Plantarum, the first major advance in plant physiogamy since Aristotle.

The British doctor, Nehemiah Grew
Nehemiah Grew
Nehemiah Grew was an English plant anatomist and physiologist, very famously known as the "Father of Plant Physiology"...

 was one of the two founders of plant anatomy. He published An Idea of a Philosophical History of Plants in 1672 and The Anatomy of Plants in 1682. Grew is credited with the recognition of plant cells, although he called them 'vesicles' and 'bladders'. He correctly identified and described the sexual organs of plants (flowers) and their parts.

In the Eighteenth Century, Carolus Linnaeus
Carolus Linnaeus
Carl Linnaeus , also known after his ennoblement as , was a Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist, who laid the foundations for the modern scheme of binomial nomenclature. He is known as the father of modern taxonomy, and is also considered one of the fathers of modern ecology...

 established taxonomy based on structure, and his early work was with plant anatomy. While the exact structural level which is to be considered to be scientifically valid for comparison and differentiation has changed with the growth of knowledge, the basic principles were established by Linnaeus. He published his master work, Species Plantarum in 1753.

In 1802, French botanist, Charles-François Brisseau de Mirbel, published Traité d'anatomie et de physiologie végétale (Treatise on Plant Anatomy and Physiology) establishing the beginnings of the science of plant cytology
Cell biology
Cell biology is a scientific discipline that studies cells – their physiological properties, their structure, the organelles they contain, interactions with their environment, their life cycle, division and death. This is done both on a microscopic and molecular level...


In 1812, Johann Jacob Paul Moldenhawer
Johann Jacob Paul Moldenhawer
Johann Jacob Paul Moldenhawer was a German botanist who made a number of important discoveries in plant anatomy.He was born in Hamburg, the son of a minister, and started out studying theology and the classics...

 published Beyträge zur Anatomie der Pflanzen, describing microscopic studies of plant tissues.

In 1813 a Swiss botanist, Augustin Pyrame de Candolle
A. P. de Candolle
Augustin Pyramus de Candolle also spelled Augustin Pyrame de Candolle was a Swiss botanist. René Louiche Desfontaines launched Candolle's botanical career by recommending him at an herbarium...

, published Théorie élémentaire de la botanique, in which he argued that plant anatomy, not physiology, ought to be the sole basis for plant classification. Using a scientific basis, he established structural criteria for defining and separating plant genera.

In 1830, Franz Meyen
Franz Meyen
Franz Julius Ferdinand Meyen was a German physician and botanist.Meyen was born in Tilsit. In 1830 he wrote Phytotomie, the first review of plant anatomy...

 published Phytotomie, the first comprehensive review of plant anatomy.

In 1838 German botanist, Matthias Jakob Schleiden
Matthias Jakob Schleiden
Matthias Jakob Schleiden was a German botanist and co-founder of the cell theory, along with Theodor Schwann and Rudolf Virchow....

, published Contributions to Phytogenesis, stating, "the lower plants all consist of one cell, while the higher plants are composed of (many) individual cells" thus confirming and continuing Mirabel's work.

A German-Polish botanist, Eduard Strasburger
Eduard Strasburger
Eduard Adolf Strasburger was a German professor who was one of the most famous botanists of the 19th century....

, described the mitotic process in plant cells and further demonstrated that new cell nuclei can only arise from the division of other pre-existing nuclei. His Studien über Protoplasma was published in 1876.

Gottlieb Haberlandt
Gottlieb Haberlandt
Gottlieb Haberlandt was an Austrian botanist.Haberlandt first pointed out the possibilities of the culture of isolated tissues...

, a German botanist, studied plant physiology and classified plant tissue based upon function. On this basis, in 1884 he published Physiologische Pflanzenanatomie (Physiological Plant Anatomy) in which he described twelve types of tissue systems (absorptive, mechanical, photosynthetic, etc.).

British paleobotanists Dunkinfield Henry Scott and William Crawford Williamson
William Crawford Williamson
William Crawford Williamson was an English naturalist and palaeobotanist.-Life:Williamson was born at Scarborough, North Yorkshire. His father, John Williamson, after beginning life as a gardener, became a well-known local naturalist, who, in conjunction with William Bean, first explored the rich...

 described the structures of fossilized plants at the end of the Nineteenth Century. Scott's Studies in Fossil Botany was published in 1900.

Following Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin FRS was an English naturalist. He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestry, and proposed the scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection.He published his theory...

's Origin of Species a Canadian botanist, Edward Charles Jeffrey, who was studying the comparative anatomy and phylogeny of different vascular plant groups, applied the theory to plants using the form and structure of plants to establish a number of evolutionary lines. He published his The Anatomy of Woody Plants in 1917.

The growth of comparative plant anatomy was spearheaded by a British botanist, Agnes Arber
Agnes Arber
Agnes Robertson Arber was a renowned British plant morphologist and anatomist, historian of botany and philosopher of biology. She was born in London but lived most of her life in Cambridge, including the last 51 years of her life...

. She published Water Plants: A Study of Aquatic Angiosperms in 1920, Monocotyledons: A Morphological Study in 1925, and The Gramineae: A Study of Cereal, Bamboo and Grass in 1934.

Following World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, Katherine Esau
Katherine Esau
Katherine Esau was a German-American botanist.She was born in Yekaterinoslav, Russian Empire to a family of Mennonites of German descent. After the Revolution her family moved to Germany, and then to California, where she achieved her doctorate in 1931...

published, Plant Anatomy (1953), which became the definitive textbook on plant structure in North American universities and elsewhere, it was still in print as of 2006. She followed up with her Anatomy of seed plants in 1960.

Further reading

  • Eames, Arthur Johnson and MacDaniels, Laurence H. (1947) An Introduction to Plant Anatomy McGraw-Hill, New York
  • Esau, Katherine (1965) Plant Anatomy (2nd edition) Wiley, New York

External links

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