In order to talk about cotyledons , we must first know what botany is. Botany is the area of ​​biology that is responsible for studying plants and that is also generally known by the name of phytology. It is a science that is based on describing, classifying and analyzing the characteristics of the different plants that exist. In this same area, botany, the cotyledon is the first leaf that emerges from the embryo of a phanerogamic plant, which are those that have reproductive organs in a visible way in the flower.

What are cotyledons?

In botany , cotyledons are the primordial leaves that are located in plants that have flowers and that appear when the seeds germinate , it is the first leaf that is formed in the embryo .

  • Definition
  • Cotyledon characteristics
  • Cotyledon function
  • Importance


A cotyledon is the part of the embryo that is inside the seed of a plant. So usually , when the seed germinates or in other words begins to grow, the cotyledon may become the first leaves of the seedling. Botanists use the number of cotyledons that are present in a plant’s seed as a means of classification . Cotyledons are formed during the embryogenesis process along with the roots and shoots of the plant before germination occurs .

In other words, we can say that the cotyledons are the primary leaves that are located in the germ of a seed and are differentiated from the rest of the leaves that the plant has thanks to their size and the amount of nutrients they have, such as , oil, starch and albumen.

Cotyledons can also be divided or found in two large and important groups:

  • The monocotyledonous : plants are angiosperms characterized by having a single cotyledon, so when germinated only have a single primitive sheet instead of two. They do not have a true secondary growth , which means that they do not have a true stem, and they do not have cambium , plant tissue made up of embryonic cells. Monocots are not capable of producing wood , so they increase their stature by widening the internodes as they grow.
  • The Dicotyledon : They are the most common group, and the embryo is inside the seed is capable of emitting two cotyledons when germinated , which are actually two primitive leaves that will serve food to the new seedling . Its leaves take different shapes: heart-shaped, tapered, they may have a serrated or simple edge. Its branches are formed by annual rings , formed by xylem and phloem that form firewood or wood.

Cotyledon characteristics

The main characteristics that we can observe in the cotyledons are the following:

  • The etymology of the word cotyledon comes from a Greek word that refers to that which has the shape of a cup and this term comes from the Latin language, from the word cotylēdon.
  • Their number is used to identify the large groups of flowering plants that exist.
  • We can say that it is the first leaf that emerges in the embryo of a plant.
  • The cotyledons can be differentiated from the other leaves that the plant has by means of their size .
  • They also have the ability to develop the digestion of albumen which is the tissue that is located around the embryo and that after the germination process occurs is used as food).
  • Cotyledons can also or have the ability to have different nutrients .
  • It is important to know that cotyledons have a relatively short life since when the plant has managed to develop the leaves that allow it to obtain energy, they end up falling .

Cotyledon function

Cotyledons are important parts of plants and are responsible for providing the necessary and adequate nutrients for seed germination . In the case of nuts, the cotyledons act as a storage organ . Also, the cotyledons serve to reserve and absorb the nutrients that are located in the seed until the seedling has the capacity to produce its true leaves and to carry out photosynthesis .


Cotyledons are very important because they are basically the first leaf of a plant, and are responsible for being organs of reserves for the embryo, are also important for germination and for the pigmentation of the leaves and thanks to them they manage to appear the chloroplasts to perform photosynthesis .

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