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Meristematic Tissue vs. Ground Tissue: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on January 16, 2024
Meristematic tissue is plant tissue composed of undifferentiated cells that are capable of division, while ground tissue forms the bulk of the plant, providing support and storing nutrients.

Key Differences

Meristematic tissue in plants consists of small, actively dividing cells that are responsible for the growth of the plant. These tissues are found in regions of the plant where growth is taking place, such as the tips of roots and shoots. Ground tissue, in contrast, is made up of larger, differentiated cells and makes up the majority of the plant body. It includes various types of cells that have specific functions such as storage, photosynthesis, and support.
The cells in meristematic tissue are generally small, with large nuclei and minimal vacuoles. This structure allows them to rapidly divide and contribute to the growth of the plant. Ground tissue cells vary in size and structure, depending on their function. They may be thin-walled and flexible for storage and photosynthesis, or thick-walled and rigid for support.
Meristematic tissues are classified based on their location in the plant into apical, lateral, and intercalary meristems. Apical meristems contribute to lengthwise growth, while lateral meristems contribute to thickness. Ground tissues, on the other hand, are classified based on their function into parenchyma, collenchyma, and sclerenchyma. Parenchyma cells are involved in storage and photosynthesis, collenchyma provides support and flexibility, and sclerenchyma offers rigidity.
In terms of function, meristematic tissue is primarily involved in the growth and development of the plant. It is the site of new cell production, which later differentiate into various other types of cells. Ground tissue plays a more diverse role, involving in storage of nutrients, photosynthesis, and providing structural support to the plant.
The activity level of the cells in these tissues is also different. Meristematic cells are constantly dividing and are metabolically active, whereas ground tissue cells, once matured, are less active and often serve more static functions such as storage or support.

Comparison Chart


Responsible for plant growth through cell division
Provides support, storage, and photosynthesis

Cell Characteristics

Small, actively dividing cells with large nuclei
Larger, differentiated cells tailored to specific functions


Apical, lateral, and intercalary meristems
Parenchyma, collenchyma, and sclerenchyma


Found in growing regions of the plant
Forms the majority of the plant body

Activity Level

Highly active metabolically
Less metabolically active once matured

Meristematic Tissue and Ground Tissue Definitions

Meristematic Tissue

Plant tissue consisting of undifferentiated, actively dividing cells.
The shoot apical meristem is a key site of meristematic activity in plants.

Ground Tissue

Provides structural support and storage in plants.
Ground tissue forms the cortex and pith of stems.

Meristematic Tissue

Responsible for the growth of new plant cells.
Meristematic tissue at root tips facilitates root elongation.

Ground Tissue

Comprises cells like parenchyma, collenchyma, and sclerenchyma.
Parenchyma cells in ground tissue store nutrients.

Meristematic Tissue

Includes apical and lateral meristems.
Lateral meristematic tissue contributes to the increase in girth of trees.

Ground Tissue

Contains cells that are larger and more differentiated.
Sclerenchyma cells in ground tissue give strength to plant stems.

Meristematic Tissue

Found in regions of the plant that are growing.
The meristematic tissue is crucial for the branching of stems.

Ground Tissue

The bulk of the plant body, involved in various functions.
Ground tissue in leaves is involved in photosynthesis.

Meristematic Tissue

Characterized by small cells with large nuclei.
Cells in meristematic tissue divide rapidly during plant growth.

Ground Tissue

Less active metabolically compared to meristematic tissue.
Mature ground tissue cells primarily store carbohydrates.


What is meristematic tissue?

Plant tissue composed of undifferentiated, actively dividing cells.

What is ground tissue?

Tissue that forms the bulk of the plant, involved in support and storage.

How does meristematic tissue contribute to plant growth?

By producing new cells that differentiate into various tissue types.

What types of cells are in ground tissue?

Parenchyma, collenchyma, and sclerenchyma cells.

How does ground tissue differ in roots and leaves?

In roots, it primarily stores nutrients; in leaves, it performs photosynthesis.

Where is meristematic tissue located?

In growing regions like root tips and shoot apices.

What are the functions of ground tissue?

Photosynthesis, storage, and providing structural support.

Can meristematic tissue become other types of tissue?

Yes, cells from meristematic tissue differentiate into all other plant tissues.

Why is sclerenchyma important in ground tissue?

It provides rigidity and strength to plant structures.

Is meristematic tissue found in all plants?

Yes, in all plants, as it's essential for growth.

Can ground tissue be involved in defense mechanisms?

Yes, certain cells can contribute to plant defense.

Are meristematic tissues permanent in plants?

They persist as long as the plant continues to grow.

What is the primary role of parenchyma in ground tissue?

Storage and photosynthesis.

Do meristematic tissues vary in different plant species?

The basic function is the same, but the arrangement can vary.

Are ground tissue cells capable of division?

Once differentiated, they generally do not divide.

How do meristematic cells differ in size from ground tissue cells?

They are smaller with larger nuclei, compared to larger, more specialized ground tissue cells.

Can ground tissue repair damaged plant parts?

To some extent, especially through parenchyma cells.

How does collenchyma in ground tissue aid plants?

It provides flexibility and support, especially in growing regions.

What differentiates meristematic and ground tissue cells?

Meristematic cells are undifferentiated and actively dividing; ground tissue cells are differentiated.

Does the amount of meristematic tissue change with age?

It can diminish in some plants as they mature and growth slows.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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