Life Cycle - Plants (1A)
Post Lab

  • Distinguishing the parts of a flower.
  • Comparing fruit and vegetables.


  • bark
  • flower
  • fruit
  • seed
  • stem
  • vegetable
  • worksheet

Students learn which parts of plant are edible.

flower.jpg (45025 bytes)
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Flowering plants are normally divided into roots, stems, leaves, flowers, and fruit. It is also useful to discuss buds (flower, leaf and stem), seeds, trunks and branches. Roots serve to anchor plants and absorb water and minerals from the soil and some roots function in food storage. Stems may be found above or below ground and provide support for the plant and transport fluids. Some stems have been so specialized for food storage and reproduction that they no longer look like a normal stem (for example potato tuber, iris rhizome, crocus or gladiolus corn). They can be distinguished from roots by the presence of buds and leaf scars. Both stems and roots may have small roots on them, but only the stems will have buds.

Leaves absorb sunlight and produce the plant's food through photosynthesis. Flowers are the main reproductive organs, producing pollen and eggs which unite in the ovary to produce seeds. The ovary turns into a fruit. Seeds may also be found below ground (peanut).

There is no scientific distinction between a fruit and a vegetable. To a botanist, a fruit is the plant part produced from the ovary of a flower; the fertilized eggs develop into seeds. Thus tomatoes, green peppers, avocados, squash, cucumbers, corn and other "vegetables" are really fruits. The grains, such as rice, wheat, barley, and oats, are also considered fruits. It is probably best just to explain that the way we define plant parts does not correspond well with the way we usually see the terms "fruit" and vegetable." If young children can understand that a fruit is a plant part with seeds, it will be a good start.

  1. You may want to bring examples from home for demonstration. Discuss the various parts of a plant (stem, roots, flowers, bark, and leaves) and their characteristics. Have the children guess which parts of the plant form the different foods. This can be done with a worksheet (sample attached) or by breaking the children up into groups and giving each group one of each of the foods. They can then come up with a group opinion concerning the answers. The food can then be placed on a table or area that has been labeled with the plant parts (for example, a table for all stem foods, one for all fruits). Another possibility is to draw a large plant on butcher paper and let them put the food on top on the corresponding plant part.  
  2. Review the following foods and plant parts

flowers - broccoli, cauliflower
flower buds - artichokes, cloves
stem buds - brussel sprouts
stems - asparagus, kohlrabi, bamboo, potatoes,
sugar cane
whole leaves - spinach, cabbage, lettuce
leaf stalk - celery, rhubarb
roots - carrots, radishes, beets, tapioca,
sugar beets
bark - cinnamon, root beer (bark of the sassafras tree)
seeds - peanuts, nuts, peas, lima beans, nutmeg
cola flavoring (including Coke)
fruits - cucumbers, green beans, squash, tomatoes,
muskmelon, apples, oranges, green pepper
seed pods - snow peas, vanilla
sap - maple syrup

Artichoke - flower bud; brussels sprouts - stem buds; lettuce - whole leaves; carrot - root; asparagus - stems; cinnamon - bark; nuts - seeds; green pepper - fruit; apple - fruit; broccoli - flowers

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