The vascular cambium supports secondary vascular tissues in plants' bodies, which in turn form the secondary plant body. The vascular cambium is classified as a type of plant tissue. It works in combination with several other vascular tissues, including the xylem and phloem, giving plants support and structure.
Most plants contain two types of meristems, which are primary and secondary. Primary meristems form the central part of the plant body. The outermost layer of the primary meristem appears as epidermis, or the skin. Beneath the hard outer layer lies central ground tissues, called the pith and cortex. These tissues merge with the procambian, which forms the innermost layer of the primary meristem. The lateral meristems, also called cambria, appear as smaller plant structures, but nevertheless play important roles in proper plant functioning.
While the primary meristem helps plants grow upwards, the secondary meristem, like the vascular cambium, helps plants grow outwards. The vascular cambium lets plants expand in girth, and ultimately forms the protective layers of plant fibers in their stems necessary for growth and development. The vascular cambrium produces several important secondary components, including xylem and phloem. An ancillary component of the cambrium, the cork cambrium produces cork cells. These rigid cells facilitate the growth of bark, giving trees protection from the elements and environmental damage.