Nutrition In Plants

Nutrients are the components found in our food such as carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, fats etc. These components are necessary for living organisms to survive. Plants produce their own food while animals and human beings do not produce their own food. We indirectly or directly depend on plants and animals for our food needs.

Table of Contents

Modes Of Nutrition
Autotrophic Nutrition in Plants
Conditions necessary for Photosynthesis
Steps in Photosynthesis
Heterotrophic Nutrition in Plants
Parasitic Nutrition
Insectivorous Nutrition
Saprophytic Nutrition
Symbiotic Nutrition

Modes Of Nutrition

The process of obtaining food and utilizing it to grow, stay healthy and repair any damaged body part is known as nutrition. Plants produce their food by taking raw materials from their surroundings, such as minerals, carbon dioxide, water, and sunlight. There are two modes of nutrition:

  • Autotrophic – Plants exhibit autotrophic nutrition and are called as a primary producer. Plants synthesis their food by using light, carbon dioxide, water, carbon dioxide, or other chemicals.
  • Heterotrophic – Both animals and human beings are called heterotrophs, as they depend on plants for their food.

Also Refer: Different Modes Of Nutrition in Living Organisms 

Autotrophic Nutrition in Plants


  • Plants are able to produce their own food through a process called photosynthesis.

  • The chloroplast is the site of photosynthesis.

  • Food production primarily is carried out in leaves. Water and minerals from the soil are absorbed by the root and transported to the leaves through vessels. Carbon dioxide reaches leaves through stomata – which are small pores on leaves surrounded by guard cells.

  • Chlorophyll is a green pigment present in leaves which helps the leaves capture energy from sunlight to prepare their food. This production of food which takes place in the presence of sunlight is known as photosynthesis. Hence, the sun serves as the primary source for all living organisms

  • During photosynthesis, water and carbon dioxide are used in the presence of sunlight to produce carbohydrates and oxygen. Starch is released in the process, which is a carbohydrate.

  • Photosynthesis provides food to all living beings.

  • Oxygen, one of the main components of life on earth is released by the plants during photosynthesis.

Also Refer: Photosynthesis

Conditions necessary for Photosynthesis

  • Sunlight

  • Water

  • Carbon dioxide

  • Chlorophyll

Steps in Photosynthesis

  • Absorption of energy from sunlight

  • Conversion of light energy into chemical energy

  • Hydrolysis of water into oxygen and hydrogen

  • Carbon dioxide is reduced to form glucose by utilizing chemical energy

Heterotrophic Nutrition in Plants

Some plants do not contain chlorophyll and depend on other plants for their food through the heterotrophic mode of nutrition. These type of nutrition in plants are referred to as Heterotrophic nutrition in plants, hence are called parasites.

Listed below are different types of heterotrophic plants and are mainly classified based on their mode of nutrition:

  • Parasitic

  • Insectivorous

  • Saprophytic

  • Symbiotic

Parasitic Nutrition

Some heterotrophic plants depend on other plants and animals for nutrition. Such plants are known as parasitic plants. However, the host is not benefitted from the parasite.

For eg., Cuscuta, Cassytha

Also Read: Parasitism

Insectivorous Nutrition

Some plants have special structural features that help them to trap insects and are commonly known as carnivorous or heterotrophic plants. These plants digest the insects by secreting digestive juices and absorb the nutrients from them. These plants grow on the soil that lacks minerals.

For eg., Pitcher plant, Venus flytrap

Also Read: Insectivorous Plants

Saprophytic Nutrition

The saprophytic plants derive nutrition from dead and decaying plants and animals. They dissolve the dead and decaying matter by secreting digestive juices and absorb the nutrients.

For eg., mushrooms, moulds.

Also Read: Saprophytes 

Symbiotic Nutrition

When two different plants belonging to two different categories show a close association, they are termed as symbiotic. In this, both the plants are benefitted from each other.

For eg., the association of fungi and trees.

Also Read: Mutualism 

Learn more in detail about the Nutrition in Plants, Heterotrophic Plants or any other related topics @ Byju’s Biology

Frequently Asked Questions

What is plant nutrition?

Plant nutrition is the study of elements and compounds necessary for plant growth, metabolism and external supply. A plant cannot complete its life cycle in its absence.

What is the main mode of nutrition in plants?

The main mode of nutrition in plants is the autotrophic mode of nutrition. The plants have chlorophyll in their leaves which helps them to produce their own food.

What are the different types of heterotrophic nutrition in plants?

Some plants do not have chlorophyll and depend upon other plants for their food. Such plants exhibit a heterotrophic mode of nutrition and are known as heterotrophic plants. For eg., parasitic plants, insectivorous plants, symbiotic plants, and saprophytic plants.

What are insectivorous plants?

Insectivorous plants are the plants that trap insects. Their leaves are modified into special structures which traps the insects and digest it with the help of digestive enzymes to derive nutrition from them.

Can plants prepare food without sunlight?

The seeds of the plants have stored food in the endosperm. They do not require any sunlight to grow. As soon as the first leaf emerges and is exposed to sunlight, they start preparing food by the process of photosynthesis.

What are the important nutrients required by the plants?

The plants require two types of nutrients- macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients include nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium and sulphur. The micronutrients include boron, chlorine, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum, and zinc.

How are the nutrients absorbed by the plants?

Plants absorb nutrients through their roots. They require nutrients and water up through the stem to the parts that are above ground level.

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