Reviewed by: BD Editors

Petiole Definition

The petiole is the stalk that supports a leaf in a plant and attaches it to the stem. Many people often call it a stem, which is incorrect. A stem is the part of the plant that serves as the main source of support and produces nodes and roots, and that’s not what we observe in petioles.

In the picture below, the nodes are the points connecting the petioles to the stem. We call the leaves that are connected to the stem through a simple petiole petiolates. In some cases, leaves are attached to the stem without a petiole, so we call them sessile. Petioles themselves can also have differences. For example, a cross section of a petiole can have different shapes, and they can either be rigid or somewhat spongy to the touch. These differences can help plant scientists determine the species of a plant. Petioles, also, come in different sizes. For example, the picture below shows thin petioles, but a celery stick is actually also the petiole part of the celery plant.

Plant nodes

Petiole Function

Since leaves are responsible for fueling plants through photosynthesis, the petiole serves to transport the energy made in the leaf to the rest of the plant. It also serves to transport nutrients and water that are absorbed by the roots and passed up through the xylem, to the leaf.

  • Internode – The section of the plant stem that is found between two nodes.
  • Pedicle – The part of a plant that is attached to and supporting a single flower.
  • Lamina – The blade-shaped part of a leaf where transpiration and photosynthesis take place.
  • Stipule – A small attachment that can be found at the base of a petiole, resembling a leaf.


1. Which of the following is true of a petiole?
A. It is also called a stem
B. It is the largest part of a plant
C. It produces pollen
D. It is connected to the stem

Answer to Question #1
D is correct. Petioles project out of a plant’s stem and are part of the leaf structure.

2. Which of the following is a function of the petiole?
A. It transports the nutrients taken up by leaves to the roots
B. It absorbs nutrients from the soil
C. It transports water to the rest of the leaf
D. It produces new plants

Answer to Question #2
C is correct. Water that is taken up in the roots and passed through the xylem is then transported to the lamina through petioles.

Cite This Article

MLAAPAChicago Editors. "Petiole." Biology Dictionary,, 18 Dec. 2016, Editors. (2016, December 18). Petiole. Retrieved from Editors. "Petiole." Biology Dictionary., December 18, 2016.

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