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Types of Plant Roots

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Roots are used by vascular plants to absorb water and nutrients from the ground. Roots are also responsible for holding plants in place and stockpiling food. Generally, roots are located below ground, which are known as aerial roots. Aerating roots are less common, but these roots are usually located above water or the ground. While all roots are responsible for the same function, there are different types of root systems.


Branched roots do not have a central root. Instead, these roots branch out from the center of the main part of the plant and look like tree branches growing beneath the soil. Branched roots are commonly called lateral roots, since these roots spread out throughout the ground searching for water and nutrients. Trees commonly have branched roots. If you decide to transplant a plant with branched roots, then you need to create a wide circle to ensure that you get most of the root system.


Fibrous roots usually grow in clumps, and these roots have a primary root from which other roots extend. Fibrous roots also have branched roots that grow out of the main root. All of the roots are approximately the same size, and the primary root is also not any thicker than the rest of the roots. Generally, flowering plants and ferns have fibrous roots. This type of root system is commonly referred to as an adventitious root systems.


Taproots have a very distinguished, primary root that is generally thicker than the roots that branch off from it. Generally, these roots are very large, especially near the top, and they taper off near the terminal of the primary root. There are two main types of taproots: the standard taproot and the elongated. The standard taproot has a long, primary root that is generally thin. The elongated taproot is bulbous since it captures and stores most of the nutrients that it gathers. Taproots are normally difficult to transplant since the primary root is very stable and digs far into the ground. You usually just pull the top off the plant when trying to remove it. Dandelions are a type of standard taproot, and carrots are a type of elongated taproot.


Tuber roots are very fat since it stores the food for the plant, which the plant uses throughout the winter or during droughts. The two main types of tubers are root and stem. The root system has the same cell structure as the root of the plant, and it grow both stem and foliage at the top while the bottom grows roots. Stem tubers attach to rhizomes, which are a type of plant node, and they have the same cell structure as the stem. Sweet potatoes and daylilies have tuberous root systems.

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