All multicellular organisms pass through a series of more or less defined developmental stages, each with its characteristic features. In humans, infancy, childhood, adolescence, and adulthood represent four general stages of development, and puberty is the dividing line between the nonreproductive and the reproductive phases. Higher plants likewise pass through developmental stages, but whereas in animals these changes take place throughout the entire organism, in higher plants they occur in a single, dynamic region, the shoot apical meristem.
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