The vascular system of a plant refers to the tissues that are responsible for the transport of vital materials and components throughout the stems, leaves and flowers. This system transfers minerals, hormones, water and food from part to part of the plant. The three primary parts of the plant's vascular system are the xylem, phloem and cambium.
The xylem part of the vascular system refers to specific cells that form vessels within the plant. Xylem vessels can be found in the plant's stem. Different cell types that make up xylem include vessel elements and tracheids. These vessels are used to move, or transport, water and minerals from one part of the plant to another. Xylem tissues lives for about one year, die and are replaced by new tissue. This action creates the rings of a tree trunk. Each ring is is one layer of xylem.
While the xylem vessels are the primary transport for minerals and water, the phloem vessels move food throughout the plant. The phloem part of a plant's vascular system is primarily made up of companion and sieve cells. Unlike xylem, which lives for approximately one year, phloem vessels live for the entire life of the plant.
Although the cambium does not transport foods, fluids or minerals as the two primary parts of the plant's xylem and phloem do, this vital component is key to the proper functioning of the vascular system. The cambium is the place where xylem and phloem cells divide and grow. This vital layer lies in between the xylem and phloem. Without the cells that the cambium produces, plants would have no vascular system.