Phloem vs. Xylem: Major Differences between Two Transport Tissues

Phloem Definition

Phloem is one of the two tissues that make up the long-distance transport system of vascular plants. It transports products of photosynthesis i.e. food made in the leaves to all other parts of the plant. The tissue is composed of various specialized cells like sieve tubes, phloem fiber, phloem parenchyma, and companion cells.

Xylem Definition

Xylem is one of the two transport tissues, the other being phloem, which transports water and dissolved minerals from roots to leaves and stems of vascular plants. In addition to its primary function, xylem also provides support to the plants. The tissue consists of a variety of specialized cells together called tracheary elements.

Differences between Phloem and Xylem

S.No. Basis of Difference Phloem Xylem
1. Structure Phloem has tubular shaped elongated structure. Cross walls with thin sieve tubes are present in Phloem. Xylem has a tubular-shaped structure and cross-walls are absent in this tissue. The tissue resembles the shape of a star.
2. Location Phloem is located on the periphery i.e. outer side of the vascular bundle. In leaves, Phloem is located in the abaxial surface i.e. the lower surface of the leaves. Xylem is located in the center of the vascular bundle. In the leaves, the Xylem is located towards the adaxial surface i.e. the upper surface of the leaves.
3. Direction of Movement The movement in Phloem is bidirectional. This means the movement occurs in both upwards and downwards directions. Food can travel both up and down the plant. Movement in Xylem is unidirectional. The movement occurs only in an upwards direction. Water and mineral only move up from the roots.
4. Quantity The amount of Phloem tissue in a plant is comparatively low. The amount of Xylem tissue in a plant is comparatively high.
5. Constituent Phloem consists of sieve tubes, phloem fiber, phloem parenchyma, companion cells, bast fibers, and, intermediary cells, etc. Xylem consists of tracheids, vessel elements, xylem fiber, xylem parenchyma, and, xylem sclerenchyma.
6. Function Phloem transports food and other nutrients including sugar and amino acids from leaves to other parts of the plant. Xylem transports water and minerals from roots to leaves and stems of a plant.
7. Origin of Name Phloem is derived from the Greek word ‘phloios’ which means bark. Xylem is derived from the Greek word ‘xylon’ which means wood.
8. Living or Dead Cells of the Phloem tissue need to be alive so that they can facilitate the active transport of sucrose throughout the plant. Xylem is made up of a long chain of dead and rigid cells that are called vessel elements. These vessel elements contain no organelles.
9. Differentiation No differentiation is found in Phloem tissue even in matured plants. In matured plants, Xylem is differentiated into sapwood and heartwood.
10. Mechanical Support Phloem is not involved in providing mechanical support to the plant. The secondary function of the Xylem is to provide mechanical support to the plant.
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