Plant Anatomy pp 443-476 | Cite as

Secretory Structures

  • Richard Crang
  • Sheila Lyons-Sobaski
  • Robert Wise


Plants secrete a variety of compounds in the form of oils, latex, nectars, water, salts, or toxins as a form of defense or to attract animals. The secretory structures may be external or internal. External secretions can include the sticky substances from colleters and nectar to reward pollinators. In the case of carnivorous plants, external secretions may allow for prey capture and nutrient extraction via digestive enzymes within traps. Some internal secretory structures produce oil, resin, latex, crystals, cystoliths, or tannins, among others. Additional internal structures, such as idioblasts and cystoliths, further illustrate the variety of secretions that plants can produce. Idioblasts are unusual cells containing calcium oxalate crystals or tannins. Cystoliths on the other hand are outgrowths of the cell wall made of calcium carbonate and cell wall material. Some oil secretions, such as essential oils, have many applications including herbal medicines and perfumes. Other oils, such as those from poison ivy, can be toxic to humans, causing serious skin irritation.


Calcium oxalate Carnivory Colleter Cystolith Guttation Halophyte Hydathode Idioblast Laticifer Lithocyst Nectary Oil cavity Resin duct Salt gland Stinging hair Toxic oils 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Crang
    • 1
  • Sheila Lyons-Sobaski
    • 2
  • Robert Wise
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Plant BiologyUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampainUrbanaUSA
  2. 2.Biology DepartmentAlbion CollegeAlbionUSA
  3. 3.Biology DepartmentUniversity of Wisconsin, OshkoshOshkoshUSA

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