Bonsai Tree Physiology

Photosynthesis – Bonsai trees and plants in general, use light energy from the sun to convert carbon dioxide and water into glucose and oxygen. This process is called photosynthesis and without “it” there would be no “us”, so in a very real sense, bonsai is life! Photosynthesis takes place in the green parts of trees and plants, the leaves. The green color of leaves comes from the chlorophyll molecules in the chloroplasts.

Chloroplasts - Chloroplasts contain the essential life-giving photosynthetic pigments. Each chloroplast is like a tiny carbohydrate factory and out of this little factory comes the food for the plant, or bonsai tree, and practically every other living thing on earth - including you and me. Carbohydrates create more than is needed to perform the photosynthesis process and this "excess" carbohydrate material gets converted into starch. (An important carbohydrate is sugar or glucose - a basic fuel and building material for much of life. 

Starch – Trees and plants turn this "excess" carbohydrate material into starch and store it for later use. The peak of starch content, in plants, usually occurs around the middle of the afternoon. By using enzymes the plant slowly turns the insoluble starch back into sugar or glucose, which is then dissolved and passes into the phloem to be moved throughout the plant by osmosis (the loss of water molecules from the leaves of a plant, Transpiration, creates an osmotic gradient, which produces tension that pulls water upward from the roots and throughout the tree). These vital processes continue right on through the night, making room in the leaf for the next day's life-giving photosynthetic process.

Xylem - The xylem is the principal water-conducting tissue of vascular trees and plants. The xylem also takes part in food storage and the conduction of vital minerals to the leaves. Together the xylem and phloem form a continuous system of vascular tissue extending throughout the plant.

Phloem - The phloem is the portion of the vascular system in plants, consisting of living cells arranged into elongated tubes, that transports sugar and other organic nutrients throughout the plant. The phloem is the principal food-conducting tissue of vascular plants.

Transpiration - Transpiration is the process of water loss from trees and plants through stomata. Transpiration occurs when stomata open in a humid surrounding and close when it is dry. Stomata - are small openings found on the underside of leaves and are connected to vascular plant tissues. Transpiration is a passive process, largely controlled by the humidity of the atmosphere and the moisture content of the soil. Transpiration also transports nutrients from the soil into the roots and carries them to the various cells of the plant.

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