A meristem is an area of a plant where growth (cell division) takes place. In these ‘meristematic’ areas cells divide and differentiate to form different types of tissue, such as the tissue used to form the skin of a stem, or to form the xylem and phloem vessels.

There are several key meristematic areas on a plant:

  • The tip of a stem or root, called the ‘apical meristem’, from which the stem or root grows longer.
  • Buds lower down the stem, called the ‘lateral meristems’ or ‘nodes’, which grow into side branches, leaves or flowers.
  • In between the xylem and phloem vessels, called the ‘cambium’ which produces new xylem and phloem vessels, thereby leading to the secondary thickening (widening) of a stem.
  • Where a plant is damaged normal cells can become meristematic, in order to grow new cells and repair the damage.