Phloem - Plant Tissue

Introduction to Phloem - Tissue

The groups of cells that are found to have a similar structure and act together to perform a specific function are called tissues. The word tissue is derived from a verb meaning “to weave” which is a form of an old French language. In animals, there are four different types of tissues such as connective tissue, muscular tissue, nervous tissue, and epithelial tissue

What is Phloem Tissue?

The complex tissue that acts as a transport system found in the vascular plants for the transport of soluble organic compounds, the above mentioned is the phloem definition. 

The food conducting tissue in plants is made up of living tissues that use turgor pressure and energy in the form of ATP to transport sugars to the plant organs such as the fruits, flowers, buds, and roots. The other material that makes up the vascular plant transport system, the xylem, moves water and minerals from the root to various parts of the plant.

Components of Phloem Tissue

The phloem tissue is made up of several various components. Each of these components performs functions by working together, these functions include facilitating the conduction of sugars and the amino acids, from source tissues to the sink tissues where they are consumed or stored. The elements of phloem are as follows;

The Sieve Elements

The sieve elements are elongated and narrow cells that are connected together to form the phloem’s sieve tube structure. They are considered the highly specialized types of cells that are found in plants. These elements lack the nucleus at maturity and are also lacking in organelles such as ribosomes, cytosol, and Golgi apparatus, to maximize the available space for the translocation of materials.

There are two main types of sieve elements: both are derived from a common mother cell form.

  1. Sieve Member: It is found in angiosperms.

  2. Sieve Cells: These are associated with gymnosperms. 

Sieve Plates

Sieve plates are located in between the connections of sieve member cells, which are modified plasmodesmata. They are large and thin in structure, these are the areas of pores that help to facilitate the exchange of materials between the element cells.

When the phloem is cut or damaged then in the prevention of loss of sap the sieve plates also act as a barrier, often by an insect or herbivorous animal. After the injury, a unique protein called “Phloem-protein or P-protein”, which is formed within the sieve element is released from its anchor site and accumulates to form a ‘clot’. These clots are present on the pores of the sieve plate that helps in preventing the loss of sap at the damage site.

In gymnosperms, the sieve elements have more primitive features compared to the angiosperms. They have numerous pores at the tapered end of the cell walls instead of sieve plates for material to pass through directly.

The Companion Cells

Each of the sieve element cells is closely associated with a ‘companion cell’ in angiosperms and ‘Strasburger cell’ or an albuminous cell in gymnosperms. Companion cells consist of a nucleus, that is filled with dense cytoplasm. The cytoplasm is made up of numerous ribosomes and mitochondria. Due to this reason the companion cells are responsible for performing several metabolic reactions and other cellular functions. The sieve element is a lack in appropriate organelles due to this these elements cannot involve in the process of metabolic reactions as it lacks the appropriate organelles. For function and survival, the sieve elements are dependent upon or in need of the companion cells.

The sieve tube and companion cells are connected via plasmodesmata, a microscopic channel connecting the cytoplasm of the cells, which allows the transfer of the sucrose, proteins, and other molecules to the sieve elements. The transport of materials around the plant and to the sink tissues is done by companion cells, also helps in the loading of sieve tubes with the products of photosynthesis, and the loaded products get unloaded at the sink tissues. 

Phloem Parenchyma

The parenchyma is a collection of cells, which make up the ‘filler’ of plant tissues. They have thin and flexible walls that are made of cellulose. The parenchyma’s main function that is present in the phloem is the storage of starch, fats, and proteins and in the case of some plants, they help in the storage of tannins and resins also.

Phloem Sclerenchyma

The sclerenchyma is the main tissue of the phloem that provides support, stiffness, and strength to the plant. Sclerenchyma comes in two forms: fibers and sclereids; both are usually dead upon reaching maturity and are characterized by a thick secondary cell wall.

The bast fibers provide support to the tensile strength while allowing flexibility of the phloem. They are narrow, elongated cells where the walls consist of thick cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin, and a narrow lumen.

Sclereids are slightly shorter, irregularly shaped cells that help to add compression strength to the phloem but restrict the flexibility. Sclereids act as protective measures for herbivory by generating a gritty texture when chewed.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Define Phloem. What are the Constituents of Phloem?

Phloem is the complex tissue that acts as a transport system, commonly found in vascular plants for the transport of soluble organic compounds.

The elements of phloem tissue are:

  • Sieve elements

  • Sieve plates

  • Companion cells

  • Phloem parenchyma

  • Phloem sclerenchyma

2. Write the difference between Xylem and Phloem.



The tissues help in the transport of water.

The phloem help in the transportation of food.

Located in the center of the vascular bundle.

Phloem is a tissue found in the outer part of the vascular bundle.

They are smaller.

They are larger.

They are unidirectional.

They are bidirectional.

Parts of the xylem are tracheids, vessels, fibers, parenchyma and rays.

Parts of the phloem are sieve elements, sieve plates, companion cells, parenchyma, and sclerenchyma.

They live with the dead cells.

They live with cytoplasm.