The two types of plant stems are herbaceous stems and woody stems. Woody stems are found in trees and shrubs that live for many years. Herbaceous stems characterize plants that live for only one season or plants that die back at the end of the growing season.
The stem of a plant supports the plant and conducts water and nutrients from the roots to other parts of the plant. Stems also allow food to be transferred back down to the roots to be stored. The tubes in the stem that carry water and minerals up to the rest of the plant are known as xylem. The tubes in the stems that carry food back down to the roots are known as phloem.