Characteristics of Stems

What is a stem?

It is a very important part of the plant with the following functions:

1) Maintain the flowers and leaves at a certain distance from the soil. STEM
2) Carry the nutrients and water.


Parts of the stem and buds



1) Main stem

2) Secondary stem

3) Main terminal bud

4) Secondary terminal bud

5) Lateral bud

6) Node

7) Internode

8) Buds


The main stem is the most important one in the plant. Secondary stems grow from it. This type of stem is easily identified most plants and certain trees such as firs and pines.

Secondary stems grow from main stem a this one develops.

Nodes are some bulginess in the stems. Leaves grow at their level.

Internodes are the spaces between the nodes.


Buds are responsible for plant growth; either new stems, flowers or leaves.

In a typical flower bud, as the one in the image, we can see the bud primordia in the apex (1) and those ones protecting it which develop into new leaves later (2).

In flower buds we can preview the elements of a flower in its undeveloped status. Buds are very fragile to the cold, so most trees or bushes protect them in winter with an outer cover of stiffened leaves.

Perennial herbaceous plants and annual ones do not protect their buds.


The main terminal bud is in charge of the upwards growing of the plant.

Secondary terminal buds come out from the tip of secondary stems. They make the secondary stems grow.

Lateral buds are placed on the stem nodes. Leaves and flowers arise from them.

Eatable buds

Some plants are being cultivated because their buds are eatable. For example:





Activities of stems


Choose the correct answer in each case.


This tree:

Only shows the main stem

Has hot a compound branching

Has got a simple branching


This tree:

Has got main and secondary stems

Has only got a main stem

Has some another kind of stems beside the main one and the secondary ones


The internodes of the cane:

Are clearly defined

Are not very clear

Can not be seen

Continue with Types of stems stem types

punto rojo More information about plants cultivation.

Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

22 April, 2019

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Botanical-online is an informative page that describes, among other topics, the traditional uses of plants from a therapeutic point of view. Their descriptions do not replace professional advice. Botanical-online is not responsible for self-medication and recommends consulting with the physician.