A shoot refers to a portion of new plant growth and can be stem or can be some other part like the tall stock on an orchid or a bean plant growing along the ground. The shoot can include a flower or leaf. The stem is the main load baring center of the flower or plant. The two main structural parts to a plant are its stem and root.
A shoot refers to an area of new growth, and can refer not only to a new stem but also leaves and flowers. The stem is the part of a plant that provides structure, transport of fluids, nutrient storage, and tissue growth.
Oh, botany! Like greengenie mentioned, a shoot refers to an area of new growth. “Shoot” is one of those words like “vegetable”–while it refers to plants, it is not techincally a botanical term, and so can be confusing.The word meristem is used in botany to refer to a cluster of cells, usually at the tip of the plant (you can have meristematic cells at the tip of roots or stems, in leaf buds or flower buds, anywhere new growth is happening). Meristems are amazing in that they are often totipotent (or pluripotent), meaning that these cells have the capicity to develop into a wide variety of specialized cells. “Meristem” is a more precise, but less popularly used word to use when referencing an area of growth in a plant. Greengenie provided a very precise definition of “stem” so there is no need to redefine it here.
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