In internal structure also the variety of tissue-formation far exceeds that found in Gymnosperms (see PLANTS: Anatomy). The vascular bundles of the stem belong to the collateral type, that is to say, the elements of the wood or xylem and the bast or phloem stand side by side on the same radius. In the larger of the two great groups into which the Angiosperms are divided, the Dicotyledons, the bundles in the very young stem are arranged in an open ring, separating a central pith from an outer cortex. In each bundle, separating the xylem and phloem, is a layer of meristem or active formative tissue, known as cambium; by the formation of a layer of cambium between the bundles (interfascicular cambium) a complete ring is formed, and a regular periodical increase in thickness results from it by the development of xylem on the inside and phloem on the outside. The soft phloem soon becomes crushed, but the hard wood persists, and forms the great bulk of the stem and branches of the woody perennial. Owing to differences in the character of the elements produced at the beginning and end of the season, the wood is marked out in transverse section into concentric rings, one for each season of growth - the so-called annual rings.
In the smaller group, the Monocotyledons, the bundles are more numerous in the young stem and scattered through the ground tissue. Moreover they contain no cambium and the stem once formed increases in diameter only in exceptional cases.
As in Gymnosperms, branching is monopodial; dichotomy or the forking of the growing point into two equivalent branches which replace the main stem, is absent both in the case of the stem and the root. The leaves show a remarkable variety in form (see LEAF), but are generally small in comparison with the size of the plant; exceptions occur in some Monocotyledons, e.g. in the Aroid family, where in some genera the plant produces one huge, much-branched leaf each season.
In rare cases the main axis is unbranched and ends in a flower, as, for instance, in the tulip, where scale-leaves, forming the underground bulb, green foliage-leaves and coloured floral leaves are borne on one and the same axis. Generally, flowers are formed only on shoots of a higher order, often only on the ultimate branches of a much branched system. A potential branch or bud, either foliage or flower, is formed in the axil of each leaf; sometimes more than one bud arises, as for instance in the walnut, where two or three stand in vertical series above each leaf. Many of the buds remain dormant, or are called to development under exceptional circumstances, such as the destruction of existing branches. For instance, the clipping of a hedge or the lopping of a tree will cause to develop numerous buds which may have been dormant for years. Leaf-buds occasionally arise from the roots, when they are called adventitious; this occurs in many fruit trees, poplars, elms and others. For instance, the young shoots seen springing from the ground around an elm are not seedlings but root-shoots. Frequently, as in many Dicotyledons, the primary root, the original root of the seedling, persists throughout the life of the plant, forming, as often in biennials, a thickened tap-root, as in carrot, or in perennials, a much-branched root system.
In many Dicotyledons and most Monocotyledons, the primary root soon perishes, and its place is taken by adventitious roots developed from the stem.