Types of Roots and Root Systems


Types of Roots and Root Systems

The plants that we see today are the result of billions of years of evolution. Today, plants cover almost 30 per cent of the total landmass and account for the 50 per cent of the plant’s productivity (generation of biomass).

Plants fulfill many roles in the ecosystem. They are a source of food, nutrition, and shelter maintains the integrity of soil (by preventing erosion) and most importantly, they are the main source for balancing the oxygen level in the atmosphere.

Anatomically, plants are very complex organisms and are classified into various types based on certain defining characteristics. 

Roots are very important structures that provide a variety of functions, but contrary to popular belief, all plants do not have roots. Roots are absent in plants like mosses and liverworts.

Root, in botany, that part of a vascular plant normally underground. Its primary functions are anchorage of the plant, absorption of water and dissolved minerals and conduction of these to the stem, and storage of reserve foods. 

The root differs from the stem mainly by lacking leaf scars and buds, having a root cap, and having branches that originate from internal tissue rather than from buds.

Roots are the plant tissue that we see less often because they are usually found underground, making them the plant tissue that we know the least about.


What are Roots?

Roots are the important underground part of all vascular plants. This part of the plant is mainly responsible for anchoring it down into the ground and absorbing the essential mineral elements, nutrients, and water from the soil. It is also used to store food. 

However, not all plants have their roots underground some plants have their roots growing above the ground. These are called aerial roots. Alike underground roots, these aerial roots are also responsible for absorbing nutrients, anchoring and affixing the plant by supporting them to the structures such as nearby walls, rocks, trellises, etc. Few examples of plants with the aerial roots are–Bonsai, Banyan Tree, Mangroves, etc.

Roots come in all sizes and lengths, being deeper for trees and shallower for herbs. Some trees in arid places can grow very deep root systems in search of underground water. Kiawe (mesquite, Prosopis pallida), which is an introduced species in Hawai‘i, can grow a root system as deep as 55 meters (180 feet).

In contrast, some plants like giant redwoods have a widespread but relatively shallow root system. The giant redwood tree (Sequoiadendron giganteum) can be as tall as 75 meters (245 feet) with roots reaching only 12 ­14 meters (39 ­ 46 feet) into the ground, but extending for over 4,000 square meters (1 acre).


Roots have three main functions in plants.

First, they anchor the plant to the soil, providing mechanical stability and support.

Second, they absorb water and dissolved minerals from the soil and transport them upward to be used by the plant. Third, roots store the carbohydrates produced in photosynthesis.

Besides these basic functions, roots also produce and export the plant hormones cytokinins and gibberellins, which are involved in promoting cell division and plant growth respectively.

Finally, in addition to their basic functions, some roots also have specialized functions which we will discuss later in this chapter.


Types of Roots and Root Systems

Types of Roots and Root Systems

There are two types of root systems:

1.   Taproots

2.   Fibrous roots also known as adventitious roots.

Tap roots have a prominent primary root that develops when the seed germinates and the radicle emerges. From there, secondary or lateral roots grow.

As the secondary roots grow they can also get thicker and develop further secondary roots, ending in a highly ramified root system. Taproots are characteristic of eudicots, such as beans and carrots.

Fibrous roots, as the name suggests, look like fibers, with all the roots being of similar length and diameter. Fibrous roots usually form a dense superficial root system.

Fibrous roots are also known as adventitious roots because the primary root that forms when a seedling germinates does not remain. Instead, roots grow out of the stem of the plant and are called adventitious.

Fibrous roots are characteristic of monocots, such as corn and grass.

Read: Soil Fertile: What Makes a Soil Fertile?

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the different types of root systems?

The different types of root systems are:

1.   Taproots

2.   Fibrous  also called Adventitious roots


What is the function of roots?

Roots perform the following functions:

1.   Roots absorb water and nutrients from the soil.

2.   They anchor the plant firmly.

3.   They help in storing food and nutrients.

4.   Roots transport water and minerals to the plant.


What are Fibrous Roots?

Fibrous roots are the roots formed by thin, moderately branching roots emerging from the stem. Wheat, rice and corn are some of the examples of fibrous roots.

What are tap Roots?

A taproot is a prominent, large, upright and straight root that develops vertically downward. Tap roots are more likely to be present in plants whose leaves contain reticulate venation.

For example- Rose and carrot.


What are the differences between monocot and dicot roots?

The main difference between monocot and dicot root is that the dicot root contains xylem in the middle and phloem surrounding the xylem.

Whereas in monocot root, xylem and phloem are arranged circularly.


Name the plants with taproots.

The plants with taproots are:

1.   Beetroot

2.   Carrot

3.   Parsley

4.   Dandelion

Read: Gestation Periods for Farm Animals

Mention some edible roots.

Some edible roots include:

1.   Ginger

2.   Turnip

3.   Yam tubers

4.   Cassava tubers

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