Bio Dünger

Functions and types of roots

Wurzeln: Funktionen und Arten - FARBIO® - Nachhaltige Bio-Flüssigdünger aus Hamburg

what are roots

The roots of a plant are one of its main organs. They consist of a main root and several branches, so-called secondary roots. These are covered with fine root hairs, which increase the surface area. At the heart of the root is the central cylinder, a vascular bundle for water and nutrients. This is covered by an endodermis and the periodontium. On the very outside, the root is protected by a layer called the root bark. The ends of roots are made of mucous tissue and are called root caps. Roots can increase in length as well as width. A root is often the first thing that grows on a seedling. Only after a root has formed are the above-ground parts of the plant formed. Almost all plants have roots, with the exception of mosses. They only have small hairs, and water and nutrients are absorbed through the leaves.

What are the functions of roots?

The most important function of the roots is the uptake of nutrients and water. These are absorbed from the soil as mineral salts in the form of ions and transported from the roots to the remaining parts of the plant. In young plants, the entire surface of the roots can still absorb substances, with the aging process the roots cork and only the root hairs, also called fine roots, can absorb something. Secondary substances are also formed at the roots of a plant, for example the phytohormone cytokinins. Furthermore, the roots of a plant provide support, so they act like an anchor.

root illustration

What types of roots are there?

The main difference is between heterogeneous and homogeneous roots. If the root system is heterogeneous, the main root grows downwards and there are several secondary roots. A homogeneous root system consists only of several branches of the same roots. However, how deep the roots of a plant can grow does not depend on the plant, but on the soil conditions.

A taproot refers to a main root that can penetrate deep into the layers of the earth. This allows water to be absorbed from the lower layers of the earth and the plant is not dependent on precipitation. When thickened, it can also serve as a storage organ for the plant. Carrots and sugar beets are known to use this thickening of the taproots to store reserves and water. So-called deep roots usually have a taproot and are therefore very stable.

The opposite is represented by the flat-rooted plants , whose roots only grow directly below the surface into the ground and mainly absorb rainwater that has seeped away. These plants are not particularly steadfast.

Plants known as heart roots have roots that can grow to medium depth and adapt very well to general soil conditions. It is a mixed form of deep and shallow roots, because it has roots close to the surface as well as in deeper layers of the earth.

Buttress roots are a special form of roots, because some plants develop them to find a better hold. These roots form in addition to the main root system of the plant. A well-known example is the corn plant.

The aerial roots are well known because many indoor plants such as the monstera or orchid have these above-ground roots. This type of roots develop when the plants grow on top of other plants rather than in the ground. They are therefore also called epiphytes. Nutrients and water can be taken up from the air with these roots. Some aerial roots can even carry out photosynthesis.

Some plants have so-called pull roots or contraction roots , which ensure that the plant's storage organ is not pushed up out of the ground. So you hold this storage organ like an anchor in the ground. Well known is the onion, which is held in place by many small roots in the ground.

Then there are the rhizomes , which may be part of a plant's root system but are not actually roots. They are underground stems that run parallel to the surface of the earth. They are used by the plant for reproduction and as a storage place for starch. Rhizomes have nodes, called internodes, from which roots and tiny shoots with leaf bases grow. Well-known plants with rhizomes are turmeric and ginger.


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