Last updated
Tracheid of oak shows pits along the walls. It is longer than a vessel element and has no perforation plates. Tracheid of oak (from Marshall Ward).png
Tracheid of oak shows pits along the walls. It is longer than a vessel element and has no perforation plates.

Tracheids are elongated cells in the xylem of vascular plants that serve in the transport of water and mineral salts. Tracheids are one of two types of tracheary elements, vessel elements being the other. Tracheids, unlike vessel elements, do not have perforation plates. [1]

Cell (biology) the basic structural and functional unit of all organisms. Includes the plasma membrane and any external encapsulating structures such as the cell wall and cell envelope.

The cell is the basic structural, functional, and biological unit of all known living organisms. A cell is the smallest unit of life. Cells are often called the "building blocks of life". The study of cells is called cell biology or cellular biology.

Xylem one of the two types of transport tissue in vascular plants. xylems transport water from roots to shoots and leaves, but also some nutrients

Xylem is one of the two types of transport tissue in vascular plants, phloem being the other. The basic function of xylem is to transport water from roots to stems and leaves, but it also transports nutrients. The word "xylem" is derived from the Greek word ξύλον (xylon), meaning "wood"; the best-known xylem tissue is wood, though it is found throughout a plant. The term was introduced by Carl Nägeli in 1858.

Vascular plant subkingdom of plants

Vascular plants, also known as tracheophytes, form a large group of plants that are defined as those land plants that have lignified tissues for conducting water and minerals throughout the plant. They also have a specialized non-lignified tissue to conduct products of photosynthesis. Vascular plants include the clubmosses, horsetails, ferns, gymnosperms and angiosperms. Scientific names for the group include Tracheophyta, Tracheobionta and Equisetopsida sensu lato. The term higher plants should be avoided as a synonym for vascular plants as it is a remnant of the abandoned concept of the great chain of being.


All tracheary elements develop a thick lignified cell wall, and at maturity the protoplast has broken down and disappeared. [2] The presence of tracheary elements is the defining characteristic of vascular plants to differentiate them from non-vascular plants. The two major functions that tracheids may fulfill are contributing to the transport system and providing structural support. The secondary walls have thickenings in various forms—as annular rings; as continuous helices (called helical or spiral); as a network (called reticulate); as transverse nets (called scalariform); or, as extensive thickenings except in the region of pits (called pitted). [3]

Protoplast entire biological cell, excluding the cell wall

Protoplast, from ancient Greek πρωτόπλαστος, is a biological term proposed by Hanstein in 1880 to refer to the entire cell, excluding the cell wall, but currently has several definitions:

Non-vascular plant

Non-vascular plants are plants without a vascular system consisting of xylem and phloem. Although non-vascular plants lack these particular tissues, many possess simpler tissues that are specialized for internal transport of water.

Tracheids provide most of the structural support in softwoods, where they are the major cell type.

Softwood wood from coniferous trees, or Ginkgo

Softwood is wood from gymnosperm trees such as conifers. The term is opposed to hardwood, which is the wood from angiosperm trees.

Because tracheids have a much higher surface to volume ratio compared to vessel elements, they serve to hold water against gravity (by adhesion) when transpiration is not occurring. This is likely one mechanism that helps plants prevent air embolisms.

Adhesion stickiness to a surface

Adhesion is the tendency of dissimilar particles or surfaces to cling to one another. The forces that cause adhesion and cohesion can be divided into several types. The intermolecular forces responsible for the function of various kinds of stickers and sticky tape fall into the categories of chemical adhesion, dispersive adhesion, and diffusive adhesion. In addition to the cumulative magnitudes of these intermolecular forces, there are also certain emergent mechanical effects.

Transpiration process of water movement through a plant and its evaporation from aerial parts

Transpiration is the process of water movement through a plant and its evaporation from aerial parts, such as leaves, stems and flowers. Water is necessary for plants but only a small amount of water taken up by the roots is used for growth and metabolism. The remaining 97–99.5% is lost by transpiration and guttation. Leaf surfaces are dotted with pores called stomata, and in most plants they are more numerous on the undersides of the foliage. The stomata are bordered by guard cells and their stomatal accessory cells that open and close the pore. Transpiration occurs through the stomatal apertures, and can be thought of as a necessary "cost" associated with the opening of the stomata to allow the diffusion of carbon dioxide gas from the air for photosynthesis. Transpiration also cools plants, changes osmotic pressure of cells, and enables mass flow of mineral nutrients and water from roots to shoots. Two major factors influence the rate of water flow from the soil to the roots: the hydraulic conductivity of the soil and the magnitude of the pressure gradient through the soil. Both of these factors influence the rate of bulk flow of water moving from the roots to the stomatal pores in the leaves via the xylem.

An air embolism, also known as a gas embolism, is a blood vessel blockage caused by one or more bubbles of air or other gas in the circulatory system. Air embolisms may also occur in the xylem of vascular plants, especially when suffering from water stress. Air can be introduced into the circulation during surgical procedures, lung over-expansion injury, decompression, and a few other causes.

The term "tracheid" was introduced by Carl Sanio in 1863, originally as Tracheide, in German. [4]

Related Research Articles

Cell wall rigid or semi-rigid envelope lying outside the cell membrane of plant, fungal, most prokaryotic cells and some protozoan parasites, maintaining their shape and protecting them from osmotic lysis

A cell wall is a structural layer surrounding some types of cells, just outside the cell membrane. It can be tough, flexible, and sometimes rigid. It provides the cell with both structural support and protection, and also acts as a filtering mechanism. Cell walls are present in most prokaryotes, in algae, plants and fungi but rarely in other eukaryotes including animals. A major function is to act as pressure vessels, preventing over-expansion of the cell when water enters.

Plant cell eukaryotic cell

Plant cells are eukaryotic cells present in green plants, photosynthetic eukaryotes of the kingdom Plantae. Their distinctive features include primary cell walls containing cellulose, hemicelluloses and pectin, the presence of plastids with the capability to perform photosynthesis and store starch, a large vacuole that regulates turgor pressure, the absence of flagella or centrioles, except in the gametes, and a unique method of cell division involving the formation of a cell plate or phragmoplast that separates the new daughter cells.

Wood fibrous material from trees or other plants

Wood is a porous and fibrous structural tissue found in the stems and roots of trees and other woody plants. It is an organic material, a natural composite of cellulose fibers that are strong in tension and embedded in a matrix of lignin that resists compression. Wood is sometimes defined as only the secondary xylem in the stems of trees, or it is defined more broadly to include the same type of tissue elsewhere such as in the roots of trees or shrubs. In a living tree it performs a support function, enabling woody plants to grow large or to stand up by themselves. It also conveys water and nutrients between the leaves, other growing tissues, and the roots. Wood may also refer to other plant materials with comparable properties, and to material engineered from wood, or wood chips or fiber.

Phloem part of a plant; living tissue that transports the soluble organic compounds made during photosynthesis (known as photosynthate), in particular the sugar sucrose, to parts of the plant where needed

In vascular plants, phloem is the living tissue that transports the soluble organic compounds made during photosynthesis and known as photosynthates, in particular the sugar sucrose, to parts of the plant where needed. This transport process is called translocation. In trees, the phloem is the innermost layer of the bark, hence the name, derived from the Greek word φλοιός (phloios) meaning "bark". The term was introduced by Nägeli in 1858.

Tissue (biology) An ensemble of similar cells and their matrix with similar origin and function

In biology, tissue is a cellular organizational level between cells and a complete organ. A tissue is an ensemble of similar cells and their extracellular matrix from the same origin that together carry out a specific function. Organs are then formed by the functional grouping together of multiple tissues.

Sap is a fluid transported in xylem cells or phloem sieve tube elements of a plant. These cells transport water and nutrients throughout the plant.

Sclereid part of a plant

Sclereids are a reduced form of sclerenchyma cells with highly thickened, lignified cellular walls that form small bundles of durable layers of tissue in most plants. The presence of numerous sclereids form the cores of apples and produce the gritty texture of guavas.

Casparian strip part of a plant

In plant anatomy, the Casparian strip is a band of cell wall material deposited in the radial and tranverse walls of the endodermis, and is chemically different from the rest of the cell wall - the cell wall being made of lignin and without suberin - whereas the Casparian strip is made of suberin and sometimes lignin.

Sieve elements are specialized cells that are important for the function of phloem, which is highly organized tissue that transports organic compounds made during photosynthesis. Sieve elements are the major conducting cells in phloem. Conducting cells aid in transport of molecules especially for long-distance signaling. In plant anatomy, there are two main types of sieve elements which are sieve cells and sieve tube members. Sieve cells are specialized cells in the phloem tissue of flowering plants. Companion cells and Sieve cells originate from meristems, which are tissues that actively divide throughout a plant's lifetime. They are similar to the development of xylem, a water conducting cells in plants whose main function is also transportation in the plant vascular system. Sieve elements' major function includes transporting sugars over long distance through plants by acting as a channel. Sieve elements elongate cells containing sieve areas on their walls. Pores on sieve areas allow for cytoplasmic connections to neighboring cells, which allows for the movement of photosynthetic material and other organic molecules necessary for tissue function. Structurally, they are elongated and parallel to the organ or tissue that they are located in. Sieve elements typically lack a nucleus and contain none to a very small number of ribosomes. The two types of sieve elements, sieve tube members and sieve cells, have different structure. Sieve tube members are shorter and wider with greater area for nutrient transport while sieve cells tend to be longer and narrower with smaller area for nutrient transport. Although the function of both of these kinds of sieve elements is the same, sieve cells are found in gymnosperms, non-flowering vascular plants, while sieve tube members are found in angiosperms, flowering vascular plants.

Ground tissue tissue found in plants

The ground tissue of plants includes all tissues that are neither dermal nor vascular. It can be divided into three types based on the nature of the cell walls.

  1. Parenchyma cells have thin primary walls and usually remain alive after they become mature. Parenchyma forms the "filler" tissue in the soft parts of plants, and is usually present in cortex, pericycle, pith, and medullary rays in primary stem and root.
  2. Collenchyma cells have thin primary walls with some areas of secondary thickening. Collenchyma provides extra mechanical and structural support, particularly in regions of new growth.
  3. Sclerenchyma cells have thick lignified secondary walls and often die when mature. Sclerenchyma provides the main structural support to a plant.
Vessel element one of the cell types found in xylem, the water conducting tissue of plants; typically found in angiosperms but absent from most gymnosperms such as conifers; main feature distinguishing the "hardwood" of angiosperms from the "softwood" of conifers

A vessel element or vessel member (trachea) is one of the cell types found in xylem, the water conducting tissue of plants. Vessel elements (tracheae) are typically found in flowering plants (angiosperms) but absent from most gymnosperms such as conifers. Vessel elements are the main feature distinguishing the "hardwood" of angiosperms from the "softwood" of conifers.

A hydroid is a type of vascular cell that occurs in certain bryophytes. In some mosses such as members of the Polytrichaceae family, hydroids form the innermost layer of cells in the stem. At maturity they are long, colourless, thin walled cells of small diameter, containing water but no living protoplasm. Collectively, hydroids function as a conducting tissue, known as the hydrome, transporting water and minerals drawn from the soil. They are surrounded by bundles of living cells known as leptoids which carry sugars and other nutrients in solution. The hydroids are analogous to the tracheids of vascular plants but there is no lignin present in the cell walls to provide structural support.

Vascular tissue complex conducting tissue

Vascular tissue is a complex conducting tissue, formed of more than one cell type, found in vascular plants. The primary components of vascular tissue are the xylem and phloem. These two tissues transport fluid and nutrients internally. There are also two meristems associated with vascular tissue: the vascular cambium and the cork cambium. All the vascular tissues within a particular plant together constitute the vascular tissue system of that plant.

Secondary growth

In botany, secondary growth is the growth that results from cell division in the cambia or lateral meristems and that causes the stems and roots to thicken, while primary growth is growth that occurs as a result of cell division at the tips of stems and roots, causing them to elongate, and gives rise to primary tissue. Secondary growth occurs in most seed plants, but monocots usually lack secondary growth. If they do have secondary growth, it differs from the typical pattern of other seed plants.

A leptoid is a type of elongated food-conducting cell like phloem in the stems of some mosses, such as the family Polytrichaceae. They surround strands of water-conducting hydroids. They have some structural and developmental similarities to the sieve elements of seedless vascular plants. At maturity they have inclined end cell walls with small pores and degenerate nuclei. The conduction cells of mosses, leptoids and hydroids, appear similar to those of fossil protracheophytes. However they are not thought to represent an intermediate stage in the evolution of plant vascular tissues but to have had an independent evolutionary origin.

Evolutionary history of plants The origin and diversification of plants through geologic time

The evolution of plants has resulted in a wide range of complexity, from the earliest algal mats, through multicellular marine and freshwater green algae, terrestrial bryophytes, lycopods and ferns, to the complex gymnosperms and angiosperms of today. While many of the earliest groups continue to thrive, as exemplified by red and green algae in marine environments, more recently derived groups have displaced previously ecologically dominant ones, e.g. the ascendance of flowering plants over gymnosperms in terrestrial environments.

Plant stem One of two main structural axes of a vascular plant (together with the root), that supports leaves, flowers and fruits, transports fluids between the roots and the shoots in the xylem and phloem, stores nutrients and produces new living tissue

A stem is one of two main structural axes of a vascular plant, the other being the root. The stem is normally divided into nodes and internodes:

<i>Ventarura</i> genus of plants

Ventarura is a genus of extinct vascular plants of the Early Devonian. Fossils were found in the Windyfield chert, Rhynie, Scotland. Some features, such as bivalved sporangia borne laterally and the anatomy of the xylem, relate this genus to the zosterophylls. Other features are unclear due to poor preservation.


  1. Esau, K. (1977). Anatomy of Seed Plants (2nd ed.). New York: John Wiley and Sons. ISBN   0-471-24520-8.
  2. Peter A. Raven; Ray F. Evert; Susan E. Eichhorn (1999). Biology of Plants. W.H. Freeman and Company. pp. 576–577. ISBN   1-57259-611-2.
  3. G. R. Kantharaj, "Plant anatomy", Plant Cell Biology: Pre-University , retrieved 2 October 2014
  4. Sanio, C. (1863). "Vergleichende Untersuchungen über die Elementarorgane des Holzkörpers". Bot. Zeitung. 21: 85–91, 93–98, 101–111. ISSN   2509-5420.

Further reading

International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.