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An intermediate region in a plant or organism that lies just inside the cuticle or epidermis layer, but outside the vascular tissue. The cortex is a storage area that contains pigment granules, resins, latex, essential oils, tannins, chloroplasts and starch. In a cross section, the cortex usually appears as a continuous structure. Its thin fibrillar cells can sometimes be seen in the lengthwise microscopic examination of a fiber or hair.