mer·​i·​stem ˈmer-ə-ˌstem How to pronounce meristem (audio)
: a formative plant tissue usually made up of small cells capable of dividing indefinitely and giving rise to similar cells or to cells that differentiate to produce the definitive tissues and organs
meristematic adjective
meristematically adverb

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Emma Erler, landscape and greenhouse field specialist at the University of New Hampshire Extension, says every plant has a meristem, a type of tissue that contains cells that can develop into different plant parts. Washington Post, 13 Oct. 2021 The hypothesis of tree immortality has grown popular in the past 20 years as researchers continue to report having found little to no genetic evidence of aging in extremely old trees’ meristem (tissue that generates new cells), Stahle says. Robin Lloyd, Scientific American, 24 Dec. 2021 The only problem was that the researchers did not know what gene might control the meristem’s pace of shoot production. New York Times, 8 July 2021 My multi-stemmed smoke tree (Cotinus obovate), which has been in the ground three years, has developed on one stem a die-back from the base toward the meristem of the sub-laterals in the course of three days. oregonlive, 31 July 2021 One day, Eugenio Azpeitia, then a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Godin’s lab, remembered a gene that was known to change the size of the central zone of the meristem. New York Times, 8 July 2021 Saguaro cacti can develop mutations in meristem cells (equivalent to stem cells in animals) on the growing tips of the plant. Athena Aktipis, Scientific American, 1 Jan. 2021 Fasciation may be caused by mutation, virus, bacterial infection by bacterium known as Rhodococcus fascians, or injury to the meristem or growing part of the plant by insect, animal or human. Margaret Lauterbach, idahostatesman, 31 May 2017 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'meristem.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Greek meristos divided (from merizein to divide, from meros) + English -em (as in system)

First Known Use

1872, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of meristem was in 1872

Dictionary Entries Near meristem

Cite this Entry

“Meristem.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition


mer·​i·​stem ˈmer-ə-ˌstem How to pronounce meristem (audio)
: a plant tissue made up of cells that are not specialized for a particular purpose, are capable of dividing any number of times, and can produce cells that specialize to form the fully developed plant tissues and organs
meristematic adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on meristem

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

The Great British Vocabulary Quiz

  • union jack speech bubble
  • Named after Sir Robert Peel, what are British police called?
Name That Thing

You know what it looks like… but what is it called?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.