The hypocotyl usually elongates, by its cells increasing very greatly in the longitudinal direction both in number and size, so that the cotyledons are raised into the air as the first foliage-leaves.
In cases where the development of the embryo is advanced at the resting period, traces run from the cotyledons and determine the symmetry of the stele of the primitive axis, the upperpart of which often shows stem-structure, in some respects at least, and is called the hypocoty- ledonary stem or hypocotyl, while the lower part is the primary root .~-,
In other cases the root structure of the stele continues up to the cotyledonary node, though the hypocotyl is still to be distinguished from the primary root by the character of its epidermis.
In germination of the seed the root of the embryo (radicle) grows out to get a holdfast for the plant; this is generally followed by the growth of the short stem immediately above the root, the so-called "hypocotyl," which carries up the cotyledons above the ground, where they spread to the light and become the first green leaves of the plant.
As the embryo develops it may absorb all the food material available, and store, either in its cotyledons or in its hypocotyl, what is not immediately required for growth, as reserve-food for use in germination, and by so doing it increases in size until it may fill entirely the embryo-sac; or its absorptive power at this stage may be limited to what is necessary for growth and it remains of relatively small size, occupying but a small area of the embryo-sac, which is otherwise filled with endosperm in which the reserve-food is stored.
The part of the stem below the cotyledons (hypocotyl) commonly plays the greater part in bringing this about.
Araucaria imbricata) are characterized by a carrot-shaped hypocotyl, which doubtless serves as a food-reservoir.
In other cases this growing-point becomes active at once, there being little or no elongation of the hypocotyl and tbe cotyledon or cotyledons remaining in the seed.
The embryo of Gnetum forms an out-growth from the hypocotyl, which serves as a feeder and draws nourishment from the prothallus.