An epicotyl is important for the beginning stages of a plant's life. It is the region of a seedling stem above the stalks of the seed leaves of an embryo plant. It grows rapidly, showing hypogeal germination, and extends the stem above the soil surface. Epicotyls also form a hook during hypogeal germination. The epicotyl will expand and form the shoot apex and leaf primordia or "first true leaves", but the cotyledon will stay below the ground.
In plant physiology, the epicotyl is the embryonic shoot above the cotyledons. In most plants the epicotyl will eventually develop into the leaves of the plant. In dicots, the hypocotyl is what appears to be the base stem under the spent withered cotyledons, and the shoot just above that is the epicotyl. In monocot plants, the first shoot that emerges from the ground or from the seed is the epicotyl, from which the first shoots and leaves emerge.
Lengthening of the epicotyl is thought to be controlled by the phytochrome photoreceptors.
- "epicotyl." A Dictionary of Biology. 2004. Encyclopedia.com. 3 Dec. 2015