Stems The stems of vascular plants have several functions, including support of the plant, transport of water and minerals by the vascular system, and generation of energy through photosynthetic cells (in some plants). Some stems also function in food and water storage. Stems arise in the apical meristem. The outer stem layer is the epidermis, the next layer is composed of vascular tissues, the next is the cortex of parenchyma cells, and at the center of the stem is the pith. In herbaceous plants (for example, clover, potatoes, and wheat) the stem is soft and is composed primarily of meristematic tissue. In woody plants, in contrast, the stems are hard with secondary tissues formed after the primary tissues have been laid down. Secondary tissues arise from the vascular cambium , a thin layer of dividing cells between the xylem and phloem. The vascular
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