Virtual Museum of Canada
Jardin botanique de Montréal 
Centre for Forest Research

Photosynthesis: a truly green process!

The phyllode (An expanded leaf-like petiole taking on the function of a leaf blade.
is a modified petiole; these cladophylls (Flattened branch or portion of a stem that resembles a leaf.) are modified twigs, or photosynthetic branches – a different solution to the same problem. Cacti are another example in which the trunk and branches do most of the photosynthesis (Synthesis of organic substances made by plants from the light energy.). They have also eliminated their leaves, reducing them to simple spines, so that photosynthesis happens in their branches or trunk.

Although the leaves are the main producers, many trees actually perform some photosynthesis on the surface of their twigs and trunks (or even their fruit, when it is green). All green parts of the tree contain chlorophyll (Green pigment of plants.) and are capable of photosynthesis.


Photo of phylloclades, photosynthetic twigs, of a Celery-top pine (Phyllocladus aspleniifolius)
Phyllocladus aspleniifolius
© James Wood
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