Sugar and sugar alcohol concentrations were analyzed in subcellular compartments of mesophyll cells, in the apoplast, and in the phloem sap of leaves of Plantago major (common plantain), Plantago maritima (sea plantain), Prunus persica (peach) and Apium graveolens (celery). In addition to sucrose, common plantain, sea plantain, and peach also translocated substantial amounts of sorbitol, whereas celery translocated mannitol as well. Sucrose was always present in vacuole and cytosol of mesophyll cells, whereas sorbitol and mannitol were found in vacuole, stroma, and cytosol in all cases except for sea plantain. The concentration of sorbitol, mannitol and sucrose in phloem sap was 2- to 40-fold higher than that in the cytosol of mesophyll cells. Apoplastic carbohydrate concentrations in all species tested were in the low millimolar range versus high millimolar concentrations in symplastic compartments. Therefore, the concentration ratios between the apoplast and the phloem were very strong, ranging between 20- to 100-fold for sorbitol and mannitol, and between 200- and 2000-fold for sucrose. The woody species, peach, showed the smallest concentration ratios between the cytosol of mesophyll cells and the phloem as well as between the apoplast and the phloem, suggesting a mixture of apoplastic and symplastic phloem loading, in contrast to the herbal plant species (common plantain, sea plantain, celery) which likely exhibit an active loading mode for sorbitol and mannitol as well as sucrose from the apoplast into the phloem.