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What is the function of sclerenchyma cells?

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Quick Answer

Sclerenchyma cells provide protective, vascular and supportive functions, according to the McGraw-Hill Higher Education. They have fibers and sclereids, which are responsible for the protective and supportive functions.

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Full Answer

Vascular tissues of plants consist of phloem and xylem, says the McGraw-Hill Higher Education. Phloem cells blend in with parenchyma, while xylem cells stand out as sclerenchyma cell types. They are usually found next to each other in vascular tissues. Most sclerenchyma cells die at maturity and thus lack nuclei.

Mature sclerenchyma cells contain secondary cell walls that are thick with cellulose and typically impregnated with lignin, explains the University of the Western Cape. Sclerenchyma is elastic, with a very small cell cavity. The main function of sclerenchyma is supporting tissue in plants. Sclereids are responsible for the shells of walnuts and the hardness of date seeds. Their cells have an irregular shape, and their cell walls are thick and hard. The cell walls contain simple pits or canals, which link adjacent cells. Fibers help transport water in the plant and young; living fibers store starch granules. Fiber cells are characterized by a needle shape, pointed tips, small lumen and thick walls. Vascular tissue of flowering plants contain plenty of fibers, whereas sclereids are often found in fruits and seeds.

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