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mplex organic molecules such as proteins or cellulose, the basic structural material in plant cell walls, or metabolized by cellular respiration to provide chemical energy to run cellular processes. The leaves draw water from the ground in the transpiration stream through a vascular conducting system known as xylem and obtain carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by diffusion through openings called stomata in the outer covering layer of the leaf (epidermis), while leaves are orientated to maximize their exposure to sunlight. Once sugar has been synthesized, it needs to be transported to areas of active growth such as the plant shoots and roots. Vascular plants transport sucrose in a special tissue called the phloem. The phloem and xylem are parallel to each other, but the transport of materials is usually in opposite directions. Within the leaf these vascular systems branch (ramify) to form veins which supply as much of the leaf as possible, ensuring that c
ells carrying out photosynthesis are close to the transportation system. Typically leaves are broad, flat and thin (dorsiventrally flattened), thereby maximising the surface area directly exposed to light and enabling the light to penetrate the tissues and reach the chloroplasts, thus promoting photosynthesis. They are arranged on the plant so as to expose their surfaces to light as efficiently as possible without shading each other, but there are many exceptions and complications. For instance, plants adapted to windy conditions may have pendent leaves, such as in many willows and eucalypts. The flat, or laminar, shape also maximizes thermal contact with the surrounding air, promoting cooling. Functionally, in addition to carrying out photosynthesis, the leaf is the principal site of transpiration, providing the energy required to draw the transpiration stream up from the roots, and guttation. Many gymnosperms have thin needle-like or scale-like leaves that can be advantageous in c
old climates with frequent snow and frost. These are interpreted as reduced from megaphyllous leaves of their Devonian ancestors. Some leaf forms are adapted to modulate the amount of light they absorb to avoid or mitigate excessive heat, ultraviolet damage, or desiccation, or to sacrifice light-absorption efficiency in favor of protection from herbivory. For xerophytes the major constraint is not light flux or intensity, but drought. Some window plants such as Fenestraria species and some Haworthia species such as Haworthia tesselata and Haworthia truncata are examples of xerophytes. and Bulbine mesembryanthemo