What Is The Differences between Xylem and Phloem?

So, what is the main difference between xylem and phloem? The former is a complex, dead, and permanent tissue for water and mineral salts transport while the latter is soft and permanent tissue for food translocation. 

Flowering plants are classified as either vascular or non-vascular plants. Vascular plants have specialized features that help in the absorption of water and minerals as well as the transport of nutrients. The main special tissues in vascular plants are xylem and phloem. Xylem and phloem structure is somehow similar. But this does not imply that these specialized tissues are similar. 

This article provides further explanations on the differences between xylem and phloem brainly. Take the time also to read through their similarities and learn how to write the difference between xylem and phloem class 9. 

Subscribe To My Channel, Please

Differences between Xylem and Phloem(With Table)

Basic Terms Xylem Tissues Phloem Tissues
Function Responsible for the transport of water and minerals from the roots to the rest parts of the plant Responsible for the translocation of food from the leaves to the rest parts of the plant.
Content Mainly dead cells Mainly living cells and a few dead cells
Elements Xylem vessels, fibre and tracheids. Phloem fibers, sieve tubes, sieve cells, phloem parenchyma, and companion cells
Location At the center of the plant. The outer part of the plant. Mostly in the bark.
Movement Direction Unidirectional Bidirectional
Additional Role Mechanical support Removal of wastes
Shape Star-shaped Do not have a specific shape
Occurrence Roots, stems, leaves Roots, stems, leaves
Composition Has lignin and cellulose Comprise of five types of cells

What Is Xylem?

Xylem is a vital vascular tissue in plants, responsible for the upward transport of water, minerals, and nutrients from the roots to the rest of the plant. This specialized tissue plays a fundamental role in maintaining plant hydration, providing structural support, and facilitating the movement of essential substances for various metabolic processes.

Comprising several types of cells, xylem includes vessel elements and tracheids, both of which are considered tracheary elements. These cells are characterized by lignified walls and are typically dead at maturity, forming hollow tubes that facilitate the efficient flow of water. Vessel elements, with perforations in their walls, create continuous conduits for water movement, while tracheids are tapered cells with overlapping ends that contribute to water transport.

Xylem vessels extend throughout the plant, forming a network of interconnected tubes. The cohesive and adhesive properties of water, coupled with the capillary action within these tubes, enable a passive but effective transport mechanism. The transpiration pull, driven by water loss from the leaves through tiny pores called stomata, further aids in pulling water upward through the xylem.

In addition to its role in water transport, xylem provides mechanical support to the plant, contributing to its overall structural integrity. Xylem tissues can be visualized in cross-sections of tree trunks as growth rings, reflecting seasonal variations in water availability and environmental conditions.

Understanding the function and structure of xylem is essential for comprehending the overall vascular system of plants and the mechanisms that sustain their growth, development, and survival in various environments.

What Is Phloem?

Phloem, a crucial vascular tissue in plants, is responsible for the bidirectional transport of sugars, organic nutrients, and other essential substances throughout the plant. This specialized tissue facilitates the movement of products of photosynthesis from the leaves, where they are produced, to various parts of the plant for growth, energy storage, and metabolic processes.

Composed of different cell types, phloem includes sieve tube elements and companion cells. Sieve tube elements are elongated, living cells with perforated end walls called sieve plates, creating continuous conduits for the flow of sap. Companion cells, closely associated with sieve tube elements, play a supportive role by providing metabolic assistance and maintaining the integrity of the phloem.

Unlike the tracheary elements in xylem, phloem cells remain alive at maturity, allowing them to actively participate in the transport process. The movement of sap in the phloem is driven by pressure gradients established through the loading of sugars into sieve tube elements in source areas (such as leaves) and their unloading in sink areas (such as roots, growing tissues, or storage organs).

Phloem also plays a crucial role in plant signaling and defense mechanisms. The exchange of signaling molecules and the transport of certain defense compounds occur through the phloem, contributing to the overall health and adaptation of the plant.

Understanding the functions and structures of phloem is essential for comprehending the overall vascular system of plants and the intricate processes that support their growth, development, and interaction with the environment. The collaborative operation of xylem and phloem ensures the efficient circulation of nutrients and water, sustaining the life and vitality of plants.

Main Differences Between Xylem and Phloem

  1. Xylem is differentiated into hardwood and sapwood while the phloem is not differentiated.
  2. Xylem form the major bulk of the plant body while phloem form the major bulk of the bark
  3. Phloem has blasted fibers while xylems have small fibers
  4. Xylem cells have a thick wall while phloem cells have a thin wall
  5. Phloem has one type of conductive cell while xylem has two types of conductive cells
  6. Xylem has dead conductive tissues while phloem have living conductive tissues
  7. Phloem is located in the outer vascular cambium while the xylem is located in the inner vascular cambium
  8. Movement of transport in the xylem is unidirectional while that of the phloem is bidirectional
  9. Xylem experiences tyloses but it is not common in phloem
  10. Xylem occur in plenty amount when compared to phloem
  11. Xylem can help to offer mechanical support whereas phloem cannot
  12. Xylem is responsible for the transport of water and minerals while the phloem is responsible for the transport of food.
  13. Xylem consists of dead cells while phloem consists of living cells with few dead cells. 
  14. Xylem is differentiated into heartwood and sapwood while phloem is not differentiated. 
  15. Xylem has tracheids and vessels whereas phloem has sieve tubes. 
  16. Xylem has a thick cell wall whereas phloem has a thin cell wall. 
  17. Xylem fibers are robust and longer while phloem fibers are flexible and shorter. 
  18. Xylem is found in roots, leaves, and stems while phloem is found in the leaves and stems. 
  19. Xylem tissue consists of xylem vessels, tracheids, and fibers while phloem tissue consists of sieve tubes, companion cells, phloem fibers, and parenchyma. 
  20. Xylem forms the major bulk of the plant body while phloem forms the major bulk of the bark. 

Similarities Between Xylem and Phloem

  1. Both xylem and phloem have cellulose
  2. Both tissues contain chloroplast
  3. Both have vascular tissues for the transport
  4. Both contain parenchyma tissues

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is Xylem Bigger than Phloem?

Yes. Xylem is always larger in a plant than phloem.

  • Why is Xylem Dead?

To allow more capacity for transporting water. Living cells tend to use up the water being transported. Hence, both the tracheids and vessels are dead. 

  • Is Phloem a Dead Tissue?

No. Phloem tissue is a living tissue meant for transporting food and other organic materials. The only dead cells in the phloem are fibers. But, sieve tubes, sieve cells, phloem parenchyma, and companion cells are all living cells in the phloem. 

  • Is Phloem Active or Passive Transport?

Well, the sugar molecules are moved into the sieve elements of phloem tissue through active transport. Water follows the sugar molecules into the sieve elements through osmosis. 

You May Also Like:


Xylem and phloem are two distinct vascular tissues in plants that play crucial roles in the transport of water, nutrients, and sugars. The differences between xylem and phloem lie in their functions, cell types, and the direction of substance transport.

Xylem primarily functions in the upward movement of water and minerals from the roots to the rest of the plant. It consists of specialized cells called tracheary elements, including vessel elements and tracheids, which are dead at maturity and form continuous tubes for efficient water conduction. Xylem also provides structural support to the plant.

Phloem, in contrast, is responsible for the downward movement of sugars produced during photosynthesis, as well as other organic nutrients, from the leaves to other parts of the plant. The main cell types in phloem are sieve tube elements and companion cells. Unlike xylem cells, phloem cells are alive at maturity, allowing for the active transport of substances.

The direction of transport is another key distinction. Xylem transports water and minerals unidirectionally from the roots to the aerial parts of the plant, while phloem facilitates bidirectional transport, moving sugars both upwards and downwards as needed by the plant.

In summary, xylem and phloem are complementary vascular tissues with distinct functions and structures. Xylem primarily transports water and minerals upwards and provides structural support, while phloem facilitates bidirectional movement of sugars and other organic nutrients to meet the metabolic needs of the plant. Understanding these differences is essential for comprehending the overall vascular system in plants and the intricate processes that support their growth and survival.

More Sources and References

  1. Xylem and Phloem.  Basic Biology 

  2. Xylem. Wikipedia 

Leave a Comment