The Q&A Archives: Plant Cotyledons

Question: What would happen to a plant if its cotyledons got ripped or torn off before they were supposed to come off?

Answer: Cotyledons, or seed leaves, are food storage structures that continually shrink as the germinated seed grows a stem and "true" leaves. They are necessary to a developing seedling, providing energy to the plant until true leaves develop. When true leaves develop they take over, providing energy to the plant through a process called photosynthesis (the conversion of light into carbohydrates). So, if cotyledons were removed, there would be no stored food reserves and the seedling would die.

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