Xylem and phloem are known as complex tissues as they are made up of more than one type of cells. These cells work in a coordinated manner, as a unit, to perform the various functions of the xylem and phloem.
Xylem helps in conducting water and minerals. It also provides mechanical support to plants. It is made up of the following components
• Tracheids (xylem vessels and xylem tracheids)
• Xylem parenchyma
• Xylem fibres
Tracheids are elongated, thick-walled dead cells with tapering ends. Vessels are long, tubular, and cylindrical structures formed from the vessel members, with each having lignified walls and large central cavities. Both tracheids and vessels lack protoplasm. Xylem fibres consist of thick walls with an almost insignificant lumen. They help in providing mechanical support to the plant. Xylem parenchyma is made up of thin-walled parenchymatous cells that help in the storage of food materials and in the radial conduction of water.
Phloem helps in conducting food materials. It is composed of:
• Sieve tube elements
• Companion cells
• Phloem parenchyma
• Phloem fibres
Sieve tube elements are tube-like elongated structures associated with companion cells. The end walls of sieve tube elements are perforated to form the sieve plate. Sieve tube elements are living cells containing cytoplasm and nucleus. Companion cells are parenchymatous in nature. They help in maintaining the pressure gradient in the sieve tube elements. Phloem parenchyma helps in the storage of food and is made up of long tapering cells, with a dense cytoplasm. Phloem fibres are made up of elongated sclerenchymatous cells with thick cell walls.