When you water the soil of your plants, how does the water travel from the soil into the plant and out to the leaves? Tiny tubes (xylem) draw the water up from the roots like a straw. It works by a capillary action. The water molecules suck up inside the tiny tubes and move up and out to the leaves as if someone was sucking on the end of the tubes. The suction actually occurs as a result of water in the leaves evaporating very slowly.
Osmosis is important to plants. They gain water by osmosis through their roots. Water moves into plant cells by osmosis, making them turgid or stiff so that they are able to hold the plant upright.
Plant cells have a strong rigid cell wall on the outside of the cell membrane. This stops the cell bursting when it absorbs water by osmosis. The increase in pressure makes the cell rigid. This is useful as plants do not have a skeleton. Instead the leaves and shoots can be supported by the pressure of water in their cells. If plant cells lose too much water by osmosis they become less rigid and eventually the cell membrane shrinks away from the cell wall.
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