Types of roots

We all have some idea of ​​what the roots of plants are: that lower part that is usually kept underground and through which the plant obtains water and nutrients. However, correctly defining and classifying roots according to botany requires a bit more work.

If you want to learn more about this part of plants and their types, join us in this practical article in which you will see the types of roots , as well as their characteristics and photos of some relevant ones.

What are roots – simple definition

The roots are the first organ that the plant develops when it germinates. They grow spreading and branching out, usually underground, to cover as much ground as possible and thus increase the plant’s water and nutrient absorption capacity , which they carry out by means of absorbent “hairs”. These nutrients are then transported to the rest of the plant.

The roots also have the function of anchoring the plant to the ground in most cases, although there are plants with aerial roots and they fulfill other functions, as in the case of some orchids, which can carry out photosynthesis.

Types of roots: classification

There are several ways we can classify roots :

Types of roots according to their shape

  • Primary or axonomorphic roots
  • Fasciculated roots
  • Napiform roots
  • Branched roots
  • Tuberous roots

Types of roots according to the direction of growth

  • Adventitious roots
  • Aquatic roots
  • Sucking roots
  • Aerial roots
  • Storage roots

Types of roots according to the anchor they give to the plant

  • Contractile roots
  • Fulcreas roots or stilts
  • Epiphytic roots

Primary or axonomorphic roots

Called primary, fusiform, typical, pivoting or axonomorphic root . It is characterized by being a type of root in which there is a main root , of much greater thickness and size, from which secondary roots of less length and thickness branch.

Fasciculated roots

Also called atypical or fibrous root . In this type of roots there is no main root, so all the branches are equally important and can reach similar sizes. It is one of the most common types of roots in gardening plants.

Root types - Fasciculate roots

Napiform roots

The plant contains a large taproot , which has evolved to be able to store reserve nutrients and other vital substances. Therefore, they are very thick roots and, in addition, many of them are edible.

Root types - Napiform roots

Branched roots

The structure of this root is very reminiscent of that of the branches of a tree. It does not have a main root , and it branches very markedly and that is why it is called a branched root .

Root types - Branched roots

Tuberous roots

The tuberous roots also have the ability to expand and multiply its size accumulating reserve substances, but rather than in a single taproot, can do so in several deposits. They are usually called tubers .

Root types - Tuberous roots

Adventitious roots

These are roots that grow and develop above the ground , rather than under it. It stays in contact with the soil to be able to absorb nutrients and water from it, but it expands above it, without burying itself. They are subdivided into foliar, fibrous and true adventitious.

Root Types - Adventitious Roots

Aquatic roots

The aquatic roots are typical of plants that grow in aquatic environments , as the name itself indicates. They are not in contact with the earth, and they take the nutrients they need from the same water. They are usually plants that do not remain fixed to anything and simply float on the surface .

Root Types - Aquatic Roots

Sucking or parasitic roots

The parasitic plants can develop roots that are introduced into the branches or stems of plants that parasitize, absorbing these nutrients they need. These are the so-called sucking or parasitic roots

Root Types - Sucking or Parasitic Roots

Aerial roots

It is another of the types of roots of parasitic plants that grows downwards and can lead to end up strangling the host plant.

Root Types - Aerial Roots

Storage roots

This group includes tubers and other roots that are capable of storing water and nutrients underground, to keep them safe from herbivorous predators and to be able to take advantage of them when the plant needs them.

Root Types - Storage Roots

Contractile roots

They are also a type of adventitious root . These are roots whose function is to move the sprout to a location close to the soil surface. The contractile roots are long and fleshy in type, and when the plant grows it is partly consumed.

Root Types - Contractile Roots

Fulcreas roots or stilts

This type of roots is known as fulcreatic roots, waders or stilts . These start from the base of the trunk or stem before reaching the ground, and grow from there, extending into the ground, even passing through water, so that a part of them is visible. They are usually found by large trees , which need greater stability due to the environment in which they grow.

Root types - Fulcreas or stilt roots

Epiphytic roots

They are developed by plants that grow on the surface of others but without parasitizing them. They do not absorb nutrients from the supporting plant and simply anchor themselves to it. 

Root types - Epiphytic roots

Edible roots – list

There are an enormous amount of roots that we consume regularly. Some are cultivated and these are species domesticated by us in agriculture for their consumption, although there are also roots of wild plants that are not normally consumed, but are suitable for consumption in times of urgency or need. These are some of the most consumed edible roots :

  • Ginger
  • Turmeric
  • Yucca
  • Beetroot
  • Potato
  • Carrot
  • Licorice
  • Parsnip
  • Radish
  • Valerian
  • Ginseng

They tend to be species rich in carbohydrates and starch, highly nutritious and valued. Also, some of the wild species with edible roots are as follows:

  • Apron – Trifolium alpinum
  • Wild garlic – Allium vineale
  • Wild Carrot – Daucus carota

In the case of wild species, it is vital to make sure that we know well the species that we are going to consume before doing so, since confusion can result in serious consequences with poisoning.

Root types - Edible roots - list

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