The Brilliant Leaf The Leaf and Its Important Qualities

Introduction

Although the leaf may seem quite simple on the outside, it is quite complex on its inner-workings and how all of the parts of it interact with each other. Without looking at the cellular level, we can already see how the leaf stretches itself out to get as much sun as possible. This large surface area helps maximize the energy that comes in from the sun, allowing the photons to have a larger area to land on. This light is essential in the plant making its food since it acts as the energy for the reaction:

Carbon Dioxide + Water + Sunlight → Glucose + Oxygen

Without the complexity of the leaf, we would be left without not only oxygen, but also a large staple of our food supply.

The Leaf in Detail

The System of the Leaf

The complexity of the leaf is all protected by the lower and upper epidermis, a layer of protective cells that help stop the insides from being damaged. These are also covered in a cuticle, which is another thin protective laying, almost like plastic, that helps to keep moisture in and out of the inside of the leaf.

In the lower epidermis, guard cells exist almost as like little pores that help with controlling the gas exchange of the environment and the plant and are found where the stomata is. These cells when dry will close and prevent less and less gas from coming in and leaving. The stomata is the part of the chloroplast (the organelle responsible for photosynthesis) that does 'dark' reactions (or the Calvin cycle). These dark reactions use ATP and NADPH (two forms of energy) to turn Carbon Dioxide into Glucose.

The chloroplasts themselves are held inside the pallisade and spongy layer of the leaf and are considered to both be mesophyll layers, or the layers of where the chloroplasts resides. The pallisade layer is a more concentrated layer in which the chloroplasts exist whereas the spongy layer stores extra gases for photosynthesis. This also exists with air space which is the communication between the outside of the leaf and the inside of the leaf through the air. This helps the leaf react to certain environmental changes to help it survive.

The veins of the leaf have a xylem and phloem tube. The xylem is meant to transport water from the root of the plant all the way through out it's body, while the phloem tube is meant to take the food those chloroplasts have been hard at work making and distributing it around the plant as well.

Conclusions

The Leaf's Importance

It is very important that the leaf evolved this way, providing us with a renewing atmosphere of oxygen and also much of our food. Without such a complex system keeping the leaf together, perhaps things may have turned out differently.

Your body in a way is similar in how nutrients are spread out, the differences being that we have skin instead of an epidermis, or we need to eat instead of make our own food. But because the leaf evolved to have this complex system, much of life was able to thrive that wasn't just plant-based.

Credits:

Created with images by ChrisA1995 - "Nature" • Ken McMillan - "Leaf" • Tony Austin - "Leaf" • global.quiz - "Leaves" • Kristaps Bergfelds - "Leaves" • stux - "autumn leaves colorful"

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