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Difference Between Stem Tendril and Leaf Tendril

Tendril: An Introduction

Last updated date: 19th Mar 2023
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Have you ever seen a slender, thread-like structure on a pea or grape plant? Do you know what those structures are and what is their function? How were these structures formed?

These are known as tendrils and they are the modification of stems and leaves. To know more about tendrils continue reading.

What are Tendrils?

Tendrils are common modifications of plant parts such as leaf, stem, and petiole.


A tendril is a slender,thread-like structure that is specialized to provide support and anchor. Tendrils are commonly green in color and perform the function of photosynthesis. Tendrils do not grow vertically, they grow around a particular support, surrounding that support, and increase in height.

Stem Tendril

Modification of branches or any stem parts makes the stem tendrils. Stem tendrils are commonly found in bitter gourd, grapevine, and bottle gourd. On stems or branches, buds are present which may be terminal or axillary. Stem tendrils are derived from axillary buds. Scale leaves may be present on the stem tendrils and stem tendrils may be branched or unbranched.

Types of Stem Tendrils and Their Examples

There are various types of stem tendrils based on their origin. Some of the types are given below-

  • Axillary - These stem tendrils are derived from the axillary bud. Eg. Passiflora

  • Apical- These stem tendrils are derived from the apical bud. Eg grapevine

  • Extra Axillary Stem Tendril - These stem tendrils are derived from the other parts of the stem or nodes of the leaf base. Eg. Luffa

  • Floral Bud - These stem tendrils are derived from the floral buds. Eg. Antigonon.

Leaf Tendril

Leaf tendrils are the modifications of the leaf. It is a special plant organ that requires support to grow and encircle the support for further growth. Leaf tendrils help the plant to grow and also establish the plant during high winds.

The leaf axis terminates into leaf tendrils in some plants such as vicia and sweet peas.

Types of Leaf Tendrils and Their Examples

There are various types of leaf tendrils based on which part they develop.

  • Whole Leaf Tendrils - In this type of tendril, the whole leaf is developed into a tendril. Eg. Lathyrus aphasia

  • Stipular Tendrils - These tendrils derive from adnate stipules. Eg. Smilax.

  • Leaflet Tendrils - In this upper leaflet is converted into a tendril. Eg. Sweet pea and edible pea.

The Similarity Between Leaf Tendrils and Stem Tendrils

There are many differences as well as similarities between leaf tendrils and stem tendrils. Some of the similarities between leaf tendrils and stem tendrils are discussed below:

  • Both leaf and stem tendrils are sensitive to touch, they get coiled on touch

  • Both leaf tendrils and stem tendrils provide support and attachment to growing parts

  • Both leaf and stem tendrils emerge as modifications of important and major plant parts such as stem and leaf

  • Leaf and stem tendrils both see green in color and contain chlorophyll and perform photosynthesis.

Differences Between Stem Tendrils and Leaf Tendrils

Stem Tendrils

Leaf Tendrils

Stem tendrils are slender and spirally coiled and arise from axillary buds

Whereas leaf tendrils arise from a whole leaf or a particular part of a leaf

Stem tendrils are modifications of a stem

Whereas leaf tendrils are modifications of a leaf or leaflet

Examples of stem tendrils are luffa, grapevine

Examples of leaf tendrils are sweet pea and edible pea

Facts About Tendrils

  • Tendrils of some plants are of high nutritive value

  • Pea tendrils are a very good source of vitamin C, fibers, and folate

  • Tendrils can climb very high

  • Grapevines can climb up to 80 feet.

Key Features

  • Tendrils are the common modification of stem and leaves

  • They provide support to the growing plants

  • The main difference between stem tendrils and leaf tendrils is that Stem tendrils are derived from a particular part of a stem whereas leaf tendrils are derived from a whole leaf or a particular part of a leaf.

  • Some stem tendrils develop from the axillary bud, and some develop from the apical bud

  • In leaf tendrils, some develop from the whole leaf and some develop from a particular part of a leaf.

Practice Questions

1. Are tendrils stem or leaf?

2. What are the types of tendrils?

3. Is cucumber stem tendril?

4. What is the difference between stem and leaf?

5. What are tendrils? Give examples of tendrils.

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FAQs on Difference Between Stem Tendril and Leaf Tendril

1. Explain the function of tendrils.

Tendrils are the modification of plant parts and they perform many functions. Some of their functions are explained below:

  • The main function of the tendrils is to provide support to the growing parts of the plants. So that they can get the optimum amount of sunlight for photosynthesis.

  • When stems are modified into tendrils they are known as stem tendrils and help the plant to climb

  • Tendrils are modified forms of leaf, stem, and petiole

  • The position of the tendril is different in different plants 

2. Explain the role of Auxin in the growth of a tendril.

Auxin is a growth hormone that helps the plant to grow. It is generally synthesized in shoot tips and root tips and increases the growth of the plant. Auxin is stimulated by tendrils it comes in contact with any support and promotes cell division. Auxin stimulates growth on the opposite side and towards sunlight, There are two types of auxin: natural and synthetic auxin.


Indole acetic acid is the natural auxin whereas 2,4 dichlorophenoxyacetic acid is the synthetic Auxin.

3. Explain thigmotropism.

Thigmotropism is defined as the growth or movement of a plant in response to a particular stimulus. This type of movement is most commonly seen in climber plants. Climber plants are those whose stems are weak and need support to grow. In tendrils when they come in contact with a stimulus they start rotating around the supportive structure.


Both leaf and stem tendrils' growth mainly supports the part to which they are attached and gives support to them. This process of growth of plants with the help of support is known as thigmotropism.


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