Xylem cells in a cucumber stem
Image Credit: Spike Walker (2011) CIL:38928, Cucurbita, plant cell, xylem, phloem. CIL. Dataset. https://doi.org/doi:10.7295/W9CIL38928
I'm grateful for xylem - the water and nutrient conducting cells of plants.
Plant anatomy has fascinated me since I first took a course in the subject from Dr. Larry Peterson many years ago. Dr. Peterson's passion for the subject and the amazing images he shared on screen or through the lens of a microscope introduced me to the internal world of plants. He and his wife have published a book on plants and plant anatomy for the non-botanist called When is a Flower not a Flower.
In trees, xylem cells form wood to give the plant strength and structure. Wood is an amazing natural material - we can work it into a variety of shapes that can be aesthetic or functional. We can burn it for heat. All this and completely renewable and biodegradable.
Xylem is essential for the cycling of water from the soil, through plants and back to the atmosphere where is can fall as rain back to the soil. It is also involved in the sweet springtime flow of sap in maple trees that is captured and boiled to make maple syrup.
When I pour syrup on my pancakes I should give thanks for xylem.