Why do plants need so much water and how do plants "pump" water from their roots to leaves that can be hundreds of feet high?

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Plants have a vascular system. This is the process by which they pump the water all the way through the plant. So an easy way to understand this is that the larger the plant, the larger the vascular system that it has.

The vascular system also moves nutrients throughout the...

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Plants have a vascular system. This is the process by which they pump the water all the way through the plant. So an easy way to understand this is that the larger the plant, the larger the vascular system that it has.

The vascular system also moves nutrients throughout the plant.

An example of a tree that has a very large vascular system is the Sequoia. The Sequoia is a very tall tree, measuring up to nearly 380 feet tall.

Vascular systems in plants differ. Some systems use xylem and phloam which are tissues. These are found mainly in trees. The xylem is located towards the middle of the plant and is generally responsible for transporting water. The phloam is under the bark and is responsible for transporting nutrients.

Plants use vascular bundles. They contain both xylem and phloam as well and work in generally the same same way.

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Water is one of the substances plants use during photosynthesis: water + carbon dioxide (+energy from the sun) --> oxygen + carbohydrates. In other words, all life on earth depends on the ability of plants to produce stored energy in the form of carbohydrates (sugars). This process takes place in the chloroplasts, mostly in the leaves. Carbon dioxide is absorbed from the air, water from the roots. And as you say in your question, sometimes the water has to travel hundreds of feet. Water travels through specialized tissue called xylem, which is essentially a series of tubes and support tissue. As water is used in the leaves, more is drawn up through capillary action, a tendency of water particles to attach to each other.

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