The plants that we see today is 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 fulfil many roles in the ecosystem. They are a source of food, nutrition, shelter, maintain 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.
Explore more Morphology Of Flowering Plants
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, all plants have their roots underground, but some plants have their roots growing above the ground and are termed as the 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 – Mangroves, Banyan Tree, Bonsai, etc.
Types of Roots
All roots have similar functions, however, their structure varies. Hence, based on these criteria, the root system are classified into two types:
- Tap-root system
Taproots have a main central root upon which, small, lateral roots called root hairs are attached. Mustard, Carrot, Beetroot, Parsley, China rose and all Dicotyledons are examples of Taproots system.
- Fibrous root system
Fibrous roots, on the other hand, are bushy roots in which thin, moderately branching roots grow from the stem. Rice, Wheat, Maize, Marigold, Banana and all Monocotyledons are some examples of Fibrous system.
Also, read Anatomy of Monocot and Dicot Plants
Functions of the Roots
Roots perform various functions that are necessary for the survival of the plants. They are an Integral or Integrated system that helps the plant in:
Anchoring: Roots are the reason plants remain attached to the ground. They support the plant body, ensuring that it stands erect.
Absorption: Primary function of roots is to absorb water and dissolved minerals from the soil. This is crucial as it helps in the process of photosynthesis.
Storage: Plants prepares food and store in the form of starch in the leaves, shoots and roots. Prominent examples include carrots, radish, beetroot, etc.
Reproduction: Even though roots are not the reproductive part of plants, they are vegetative parts. In some plants, roots are a means of reproduction. For instance, new plants arise from creeping horizontal stems called runners (stolons) in jasmine, grass, etc. This type of reproduction is called vegetative propagation.
Ecological Function: They check soil erosion, provide sustenance and also habitat to various organisms.
Also Refer: Root Modifications
Learn more about Root System, types of Roots, its functions, and other related topics @ BYJU’S Biology