Leaves enable photosynthesis to occur. Photosynthesis is the process by which leaves absorb light and carbon dioxide to produce carbohydrate (food) for plants to grow. Leaves are adapted to perform their function, eg they have a large surface area to absorb sunlight.
Plants have two different types of 'transport' tissue, xylem and phloem, that move substances in and around the plant. When water evaporates from the leaves, resulting in more water being drawn up from the roots, it is called transpiration.
The function of a leaf is photosynthesis – to absorb light and carbon dioxide to produce carbohydrates. The equation for photosynthesis is:
Carbon dioxide and water → glucose and oxygen
Did you know:
Leaves are adapted in several ways to help them perform their function.
|Large surface area||To absorb more light|
|Thin||Short distance for carbon dioxide to diffuse into leaf cells|
|Chlorophyll||Absorbs sunlight to transfer energy into chemicals|
|Network of veins||To support the leaf and transport water and carbohydrates|
|Stomata||Allow carbon dioxide to diffuse into the leaf|
The internal structure of the leaf is also adapted to promote efficient photosynthesis:
|Epidermis is thin and transparent||To allow more light to reach the palisade cells|
|Thin cuticle made of wax||To protect the leaf without blocking out light|
|Palisade cell layer at top of leaf||To absorb more light|
|Spongy layer||Air spaces allow carbon dioxide to diffuse through the leaf, and increase the surface area|
|Palisade cells contain many chloroplasts||To absorb all the available light|
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