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Different Venation of Your Favorite Plant Leaves: Parallel and Reticulate Venation

Like every living organism in the world, the plants have a specific and tailor-made circulatory system on their own, known as the vascular system or the vascular conducting system. Let’s dive deeper into understanding the difference between Parallel and Reticulate Venation in this article. 

The vascular conducting system of the plant is concerned with the supply of adequate hydration, minerals, organic compounds, signalling molecules, and nutrition to every tissue in the plant. The system is comprised of the following essential components:

  • Xylem, which is the water-conducting system of the plant. It also transports a few minerals.
  • Phloem is concerned with the transport of minerals and other substances across the bulk of the plant.
  • Vascular cambium is associated with the secondary growth of plant tissue, which increases the girth and diameter of the plant tissue along with the maturation and development of different cell types.
  • Cork cambium is a tough structure providing support.

Xylem and phloem can be considered transport tissue proper as they are directly associated with the conduction of substances across the plant. The cork cambium and vascular cambium are more concerned about maintaining the structural integrity of the plant vasculature and act as support systems.

The venations that are seen on the leaves of different plants are not just aesthetic or physical components. These patterns are directly associated with important factors that involve the efficiency of nutrient transport throughout the plant through the vascular system.

The veins of the leaf which form the venation patterns possess all of the above components along with parenchyma and sclerenchyma cells. These veins are also surrounded by sheath cells. Veins of the plant are extensions of the plant’s vascular system seen from the plant’s stem to the tip of the leaf.

Two types of venation can include all known plant species. They are parallel venation and reticulate venation. They even hold subclasses, namely pinnate and palmate, corresponding to both the broader classes.

Importance of Venation

The venation of the vein pattern of the leaves is directly associated with the mechanical sturdiness and the conducting efficiency provided by the plant’s vascular system.

Apart from this, studying the venation of leaves is an extensive branch being researched meticulously in renowned and well-established laboratories. It is also used in several studies involving the identification, species classification, and differentiation of different plant species and families.

Reticulate venation

A leaf blade that holds reticulate venation is characterised by a major network of veins that resemble the appearance of a cobweb. This pattern is seen all over the surface, covering the entire surface of the leaf. The reticulate type of venation is seen in dicots like mango, hibiscus, ficus, etc.

Reticulate venation is further grouped into pinnate and palmate types of reticulate venation. They have the following features.

  • Pinnate Reticulate Venation: This type of venation is characterised by the presence of a single significant midvein, on the sides of which all other veins give rise to the cobweb pattern mentioned earlier.
  • Palmate Reticulate Venation: Unlike reticulate venation, the palmate type holds more than one midribs, and the other veins are concerned with the formation of the reticular network.

The palmate reticular network can further be classified as convergent and diverging patterns. In a convergent type of venation, the other veins that arise from a midrib meet together in the apex. This pattern is seen in unlobed leaves.

In a divergent variant of palmate reticulate venation seen in lobed leaves, the smaller veins that arise from the midribs appear to be entering different lobes; that is, they diverge into multiple lobes.

Parallel venation

In this type of vein pattern, the smaller veins arising from the midrib(s) run parallel to each other through the leaf blade’s extent. Parallel venation is seen in monocot plants like maise, bamboo, wheat, banana, and grasses.

Based on the presence of a midvein similar to reticulate venation, parallel venation can be classified into pinnate and palmate variations of parallel venation patterns.

  • Pinnate Parallel Venation: In this type of parallel venation, there is a significant centrally present midvein that extends from the apex to the base of the leaf. From this midrib, several smaller veins are given out, which run parallel to each other until they reach the end of the leaf blade. This pattern is commonly seen in banana leaves.
  • Palmate Parallel Venation: This type of pattern is characterised by the presence of more than one significant midvein. These mid veins are parallel to each other and give rise to smaller veins. The palmate pattern of parallel venation can be classified into divergent palmate parallel venation and convergent palmate parallel venation.

In convergent palmate parallel venation, the mid veins arise from a common point at the base, run parallel to each other throughout the length of the leaf blade, and then converge at the apex of the leaf. It is seen in the venation pattern of grass.

In a divergent variation of palmate parallel venation, which is usually present in multi-lobed leaves, the veins that arise from the basal part of the leaf enter into different lobes. It is seen in the pattern of Palmyra leaves.

Significance

The venation patterns are signs of many important factors that reflect the properties and qualities of the plant itself. Here are a few of the significant uses of the venation patterns.

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  • The venation pattern of the leaves forms a system that provides mechanical support to the delicate leaves, thereby protecting them from any external factors and ensuring their smooth functioning.
  • Patterns of venation allow for a smooth conductivity pattern that can be synchronised with all other plant leaves. This can also act as a protective factor.
  • Different plants have different patterns of vein arrangement. Hence, the venation pattern is of great use in identification and classification studies.

Conclusion

Venation patterns are an interesting and vast subject that still has several unexplored research areas and can prove to be fascinating. Activities like grouping locally available leaves into the above categories of venation and similar activities can be fun learning ways.

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