Every living organism needs some form of energy to survive. Sharks eat other animals, like fish. Giraffes eat the leaves of trees. Some bacteria, like N. Meningitidis, feed on human cells. No matter the means, all of these organisms acquire energy in some way. But how do plants?
Kiwifruit Plant Parts - Photo by Jim Xerogeanes jxerogea@mendocino.eduActinidia deliciosa plants are autotrophic, meaning they are “self-feeders” and they generate their own energy. This means they do not consume other living organisms for nutrients. Plants, including the kiwifruit plant, generate their energy via photosynthesis. Simply put, this is the process of capturing energy in the form of light and converting it to chemical energy which is then stored as sugars and other organic molecules.
The leaves of plants contain a chemical called chlorophyll which gives the plant a green color. Chlorophyll is also what absorbs the light energy. This energy, along with carbon dioxide, taken in through leaf pores, and water, absorbed by the roots, is chemically combined and rearranged through a series of processes to create glucose sugar and water, shown below.

Photosynthesis Chemical Equation

The resulting sugar molecule is then transported throughout the plant where it is used or stored for energy.
Because photosynthesis occurs in the leaves, the sugars need to be moved up, down and around to every part of the plant. These sugars are transported via specialized tissues called phloem. Phloem moves the sugars generated in the leaves to the other parts of the plant including the roots, stem, stalks, flowers and other leaves.
Similarly, water needs to be moved from the roots, where it is absorbed, up to the rest of the plant. Plants have specialized tissues to accomplish this as well called xylem.  The xylem moves the water from the roots to the entire plant, especially the leaves where it is needed to continue the process of photosynthesis.

 Xylem and Phloem Vessel Diagrams - Diagram borrowed with permission from Patrick Steed,+Phloem+vs.+Xylem

Because plants, including kiwifruit, contain an a high amount of energy for animals, it is not surprising that they are eaten by other organisms. Relationships like this and more are on the interactions page later in the website.
But first, go to the reproduction page to learn how the delicious fruits are created.

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