As you can see from the following list, plant structures are specialized to help plants get what they need for photosynthesis:
- The shoot system helps plants capture energy from the Sun. Shoots grow upward, bringing leaves toward the Sun. Branches spread leaves out so they can absorb light over a wider area, and many leaves are flat so they have the most surface area possible for light absorption.
- The root system absorbs water and minerals from the soil. Water is needed for photosynthesis and basic plant functioning. Minerals perform the same function for plants as they do for you — they improve general metabolism by helping enzymes function properly. Also, plants absorb nitrogen-containing compounds from the soil and use them, along with the carbohydrates made during photosynthesis, to construct plant proteins.
- Stomates in the leaves allow plants to take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and return oxygen to it. The carbon dioxide provides the carbon and oxygen atoms plants need to build carbohydrates. Also, photosynthesis produces oxygen when the hydrogen and oxygen atoms in water are separated. Oxygen gas leaves plants through their stomates.