What Are Cotyledons

What Are Cotyledons

Each time a seed germinates we can get a very interesting surprise when the first leaves appear because they will not have the shape they are supposed to have. These leaflets are known by the name of cotyledons or embryonic leaves and have a very important function.

In fact, without them neither the highest tree nor the smallest grass could exist .

From the first moment in which the embryo is formed inside the seed, the cotyledons also begin to mature. These first leaves will grow with the reserves of energy stored in the seed, so once that seed stops being fed by the mother plant, it will spend the energy of its cotyledons .


The life of these is very short: as soon as the seedling has its first true leaves they will begin to dry as the reserves will have run out. In addition, from that moment on, the new plant will be able to manufacture food on its own.

Depending on where the cotyledons develop, two types of plants are distinguished : epigeas , which are those that have them outside the earth, or hypogeas , which are those that have them underground. In both cases they fulfill the same function: to feed the seedling until it produces the first leaves.

But not all plants have the same number of cotyledons . The palm trees , the grasses, orchids and bulbous have only one cotyledon, which means they are monocots; On the other hand, the rest of the plants are dicotyledonous (two cotyledons).

Cotyledons (embryonic leaves) and primordial leaves of an 
Albizia julibrissin. 

Therefore, when you see that they begin to wither, you can begin to fertilize the plants, following the indications specified on the package to avoid problems.

Don Burke

I am Don Burke, one of the authors at My Garden Guide.  I am a horticulturist that cultivates, grows, and cares for plants, ranging from shrubs and fruits to flowers. I do it in my own garden and in my nursery. I show you how to take care of your garden and how to perform garden landscaping in an easy way, step by step.I am originally from Sydney and I wrote in local magazines. Later on, I have decided, more than two decades ago, to create my own blog. My area of specialization is related to orchid care, succulent care, and the study of the substrate and the soil. Therefore, you will see many articles dedicated to these disciplines. I also provide advice about how to improve the landscape design of your garden.

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