What Is The Difference between Simple Tissue and Complex Tissue?

So, what is the main difference between simple and complex tissue? The former is made up of cells of the same kind while the latter is made up of cells of different types. 

A tissue is a group of cells that have similar structures and work together to perform specific functions in living organisms.  These tissues are grouped according to their composition. Tissues are classified as either simple or complex depending on the number of cells. 

Simple tissues are also known as homogeneous and complex tissues as heterogeneous. The tissue composition and function helps to explain more differences.  This article provides further explanation on how simple tissues are different from complex tissues in living things. Take the time to read through it and learn to state their differences. 

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Difference Between Simple and Complex Tissue(With Table)

Basic Terms

Simple Tissue

Complex Tissue


It comprises cells that are functionally and structurally similar.

It comprises different cells that perform different functions.

Nature of Tissue




All over

Restricted to specific parts.


Does many functions

Only meant for conduction.


Storage of food.

Offering protection.


Every part of the plant.

Vascular region of the plant.

Cell Differentiation

Perform the same functions.

Perform different functions.


Single cells

Multiple cells


Transport of water and food in plants.

Offer support to plants.


Collenchyma, parenchyma, sclerenchyma

Phloem and xylem tissues.

What Is Simple Tissue?

Simple tissues in plants are comprised of cells that share similar structures and functions, collectively performing fundamental roles essential for the plant’s form and function. Unlike complex tissues that consist of diverse cell types, simple tissues exhibit a uniformity in cell composition.

Firstly, parenchyma tissue consists of isodiametric cells with thin cell walls, large central vacuoles, and prominent nuclei. Its versatility allows it to participate in crucial activities such as photosynthesis, food and water storage, and providing structural support to the plant.

Collenchyma tissue, characterized by elongated cells with unevenly thickened primary walls, imparts flexibility. This tissue plays a significant role in offering mechanical support to actively growing plant parts like stems and leaves, assisting in resisting bending forces.

Sclerenchyma tissue, featuring cells with thick, lignified secondary walls, often becomes non-functional upon maturity. Despite this, it provides rigid structural support to plant organs, contributing to the overall toughness and strength of plant tissues.

These simple tissues collectively contribute to various aspects of plant life, including growth, support, and storage. Whether in the adaptability of parenchyma, the flexibility of collenchyma, or the strength of sclerenchyma, these tissues underscore the resilience and functionality of plants in different environmental conditions. The distinct characteristics and functions of simple tissues highlight their integral role in the life cycle and survival of plants.

What Is Complex Tissue?

Complex tissues in plants are intricate assemblies of multiple cell types collaborating to fulfill specialized functions crucial for the plant’s growth and survival. The two primary categories of complex tissues are xylem and phloem, collectively referred to as vascular tissues, which play a pivotal role in the transportation of water, nutrients, and organic substances throughout the plant.

Xylem, responsible for conducting water and minerals from the roots to other plant parts, is comprised of distinct cell types. Tracheids, elongated tapering cells with lignified walls, facilitate water transport, while vessels, larger continuous tubes, enhance the efficiency of this process. Xylem fibers provide structural support, and xylem parenchyma is involved in both water storage and lateral conduction.

On the other hand, phloem is essential for transporting organic compounds, particularly sugars produced during photosynthesis, from the leaves to other plant tissues. Sieve tubes, long tubular cells with perforated end walls (sieve plates), are the primary conduits for nutrient translocation. Companion cells support sieve tubes in various functions, including loading and unloading of substances. Phloem fibers offer structural reinforcement, and phloem parenchyma contributes to storage and lateral conduction.

The formation of complex tissues arises from the differentiation and specialization of cells during plant development. This intricate combination of cell types enables the efficient and coordinated movement of fluids and nutrients, supporting the growth and function of various plant organs. Complex tissues, a distinguishing feature of higher vascular plants, enhance their adaptability to diverse environmental conditions, ensuring their sustained growth and vitality.

Main Differences Between Simple Tissue and Complex Tissue

  1. Simple tissue compromises cells that are related and similar while complex tissue comprises different cells that perform different functions.
  2. Simple tissue consists of parenchyma, collenchyma, and sclerenchyma while complex tissue comprises xylem and phloem tissues.
  3. Simple tissues are widely distributed in various parts of the plant while complex tissues are restricted in the vascular region only.
  4. Simple tissues perform the task of storage of food while complex tissue performs support, transportation of food, and conduction of water in the plants.
  5. Simple tissues have a lot of capabilities in the plants while complex tissues are only restricted to certain tasks.
  6. Complex tissue help to prevent water loss and also offer room for gaseous exchange, unlike simple tissues.
  7. Simple tissues carry out a wide range of duties when compared to complex tissues that work according to the area of specialization.
  8. Simple tissue comprises of single-cell while complex tissue comprises multiple cells. 

Similarities of Simple Tissue and Complex Tissue

  1. Both provide support to the plant
  2. Both are found in plants 
  3. Both play role conduction of water and translocation of food

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In conclusion, the disparities between simple permanent tissues and complex permanent tissues in plants underscore the diverse structural and functional roles that these tissues play in the overall development and functioning of plant organisms.

Simple permanent tissues, characterized by uniform cell types, serve fundamental functions such as support, storage, and photosynthesis. The presence of parenchyma, collenchyma, and sclerenchyma tissues highlights the adaptability of plants to various environmental conditions. Parenchyma, with its living cells, is involved in photosynthesis and storage, while collenchyma and sclerenchyma provide structural support through their thickened cell walls.

On the other hand, complex permanent tissues, comprising multiple cell types, exemplify a higher level of organization and coordination within the plant. The two main types, xylem and phloem, are integral to the transport of water, nutrients, and sugars throughout the plant. Xylem, with its vessels and tracheids, facilitates upward water movement, while phloem, consisting of sieve tubes and companion cells, ensures the efficient translocation of nutrients.

While simple permanent tissues are more primitive and functionally basic, complex permanent tissues showcase a more specialized and sophisticated level of organization. Together, these tissues contribute synergistically to the growth, support, and sustenance of the plant, emphasizing the intricate balance and interdependence within the plant kingdom. Understanding these differences is crucial for unraveling the complex web of plant physiology and anatomy, providing valuable insights for researchers, agriculturists, and plant enthusiasts alike.

More Sources and References

  1. Tissues. Wikipedia
  2. Simple Tissue. Britannica
  3. Simple Tissues and Complex Tissues. Biocyclopedia

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