Differences Between Taproot and Fibrous root (Taproot vs Fibrous root)

17 Differences Between Taproot and Fibrous root (Taproot vs Fibrous root)

Last Updated on September 9, 2020 by Sagar Aryal

Differences Between Taproot and Fibrous root (Taproot vs Fibrous root)
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Taproot Definition

Taproot is one of the two essential root systems where the primary root gives out branches of secondary and tertiary roots growing downwards as the primary root tapers towards the end.

  • The Taproot system is the root system found in most dicotyledonous plants and is characterized by the presence of a primary or dominant root.
  • The radicle of the seed develops to form the primary root during the germination of the seed.
  • However, in some plants, the taproot developed during the embryonic stage is replaced by a fibrous root during the later stage.
  • In other plants with a persistent tap root, the radicle keeps on growing while developing lateral roots from the main root.
  • The shape of the taproot might differ from one plant to another, but the common shapes include; conical, fusiform, and napiform roots.
  • The conical root is widest at the top tapering steadily towards the bottom. It is seen in plants like a carrot.
  • The fusiform root is widest in the middle and is tapering towards the top and the bottom. It is seen in plants like a radish.
  • Napiform root has a very wide top and tappers suddenly into a tail at the bottom. It is seen in plants like a turnip.
  • The main or primary root might give off secondary roots which then branches out to form the tertiary root. The tertiary roots might even divide to form rootlets.
  • The division of the primary root into further branches increases the area for water and mineral absorption from the soil.
  • The ability to branch out and cover more areas also enables taproot to anchor the plant more tightly and firmly to the soil.
  • As the taproot grows straight down, it can penetrate deep into the soil and obtain more nutrients and minerals.
  • In some plants like carrot, the taproot is modified for food storage which is then consumed as a vegetable.
  • It is assumed that the taproot system evolved from the fibrous root in evolutionary history.
  • Besides, plants with a taproot system usually have leaves with reticulate venation.
  • Some examples of plants that have a tap root system include carrot, mustard, radish, turnip, beetroot, parsley, coriander, etc.

Fibrous Root Definition

The fibrous root is the other type of root system where the root develops from the stem in the form of thin and moderately branching roots without any primary root.

  • The fibrous root can be observed in most monocotyledonous plants and other plants like a fern.
  • The fibrous root system is also called an adventitious root system due to the presence of adventitious roots.
  • The fibrous root system begins as a tap root from the radicle, but as the plant grows, the radicle degenerates, and no primary root is seen.
  • Once the plant is developed completely, the fibrous root appears as a mat underneath the plant.
  • The roots in the fibrous root system move more horizontally than vertically, but they cannot penetrate deeper into the soil.
  • The roots develop horizontally in all directions, with over 95% of the root in the top 50m of the soil.
  • Unlike tap root, fibrous root does not have a primary root, and the roots are also not branched into secondary and tertiary roots.
  • Instead, a large number of roots arise directly from the stem and move in all directions.
  • Fibrous roots are considered as surface feeders as they do not penetrate deep into the soil but feed on the surface soil and organic matter.
  • Fibrous root also cannot act as an organ for food storage like in some plants with the taproot system.
  • Because they are more fixed on the surface of the soil, the fibrous root is considered crucial for the prevention of soil erosion as they hold the surface soil firmly.
  • Besides, they also can absorb the fertilizers more efficiently than the taproot system.
  • However, these roots might not be able to withstand drought conditions as they have less surface area, and they do not grow vertically deep enough. The roots present are also comparatively shorter.
  • The fibrous root system is assumed to have evolved before the taproot system in evolutionary history.
  • Plants with fibrous root systems usually have leaves with parallel venation.
  • Some plants with fibrous root systems include grasses, wheat, rice, corn, rosemary, coconut, etc.

Key Differences (Taproot vs Fibrous Root)

Basis for Comparison

Taproot

Fibrous Root

Definition Taproot is one of the two essential root systems where the primary root gives out branches of secondary and tertiary roots growing downwards as the primary root tapers towards the end. The fibrous root is the other type of root system where the root develops from the stem in the form of thin and moderately branching roots without any primary root.
Evolution Taproot evolved from the fibrous root in the evolutionary process. The fibrous root system evolved before the taproot system.
Plants Taproot is observed in dicotyledonous plants. The fibrous root is observed in monocotyledonous plants.
Nature of the roots The roots in the taproot system are thicker than those in the fibrous root. The roots in the fibrous root system are thin and hair-like.
Number of roots A single plant only has one taproot. Plant with a fibrous root system might have multiple fibrous roots.
Position Taproots are always underground. Fibrous root might be underground or aerial.
Origin The Taproot system develops from the radicle of the embryo during germination. A fibrous root system develops from the stem tissue of the plant base.
Differentiation In the tap root system, the primary root differentiates into secondary and tertiary roots. All roots in a fibrous root system arise from the stem; thus, no differentiation is observed.
Food storage Some tap root like in radish and carrot act as storage for food. Fibrous roots do not store food.
Length Roots in the taproot system are longer. Roots in the fibrous root system are shorter.
Surface area The Taproot system occupies more surface area than the fibrous root. The fibrous root system occupies less surface area than taproot.
Growth in soil Taproot grows vertically downwards and thus reaches deep into the soil. The fibrous root grows horizontally in all directions and thus doesn’t reach deep into the soil.
Anchorage The Taproot system anchors the plant more firmly than the fibrous root. Fibrous root system anchors less efficient than taproot.
Absorption of water The absorption of water and minerals by taproot is more efficient with the taproot system. Fibrous root absorbs water more efficiently as it reaches deep into the soil.
Drought Taproots are capable of withstanding drought. The fibrous root cannot endure drought conditions.
Leaves Plants with a tap root system have leaves with reticulate venation. Plants with fibrous root systems have leaves with parallel venation.
Examples Some examples of plants that have a tap root system include carrot, mustard, radish, turnip, beetroot, parsley, coriander, etc. Some plants with fibrous root systems include grasses, wheat, rice, corn, rosemary, coconut, etc.

Video Animation: The Root System | Different Kind Roots | Tap Root & Fibrous Roots | By Periwinkle

Examples of the taproot system

Carrot

  • Carrot is a root vegetable that mostly occurs in orange color even though other varieties with different colors are available.
  • The root of the plant act as a vegetable and the root system in the carrot plant is a taproot.
  • The primary root originates from the stem, which then further divides to form secondary and tertiary roots.
  • The secondary and tertiary roots in the carrot appear as a thin hair-like structure that is present throughout the vegetable.
  • The root present in the carrot is termed conical root as it is widest at the top and tapers slowly towards the end.
  • Carrot is an essential vegetable as it contains about 88% of water along with other nutrients like carbohydrates and proteins.

Mustard

  • Mustard is a flowering plant that has a tap root system.
  • The root system consists of a primary root that continues with the stem, which is further divided into secondary and tertiary roots.
  • The mustard root is commonly used to discuss the basic concept of the taproot system as the root grows vertically downward and has deep roots penetrating deep into the soil.
  • Mustard is a cool-season plant that can extend up to 1-2 feet underneath the soil. Thus, the plant can obtain water and nutrients from deeper parts of the soil.
  • The taproot of the mustard plant is gaining popularity now as it has been used as a source of food.

Read Also: 26 differences between Monocotyledons and Dicotyledons

Examples of the fibrous root system

Maize

  • Maize is one of the essential plants with the fibrous root system, parallel venation in leaves, and monocotyledonous seeds.
  • The root system in maize is different from others as it has an embryonic root system with primary root, radicle, and seminal roots, along with a post-embryonic root with shoot-borne roots, termed nodal roots.
  • The post-embryonic root system originates from the last few nodes within the stem while the embryonic root develops from the radicle of the embryo.
  • The nodal roots are present above the soil as aerial roots.
  • Both of these root systems are fibrous root systems with several roots originating from the same point which do not divide further into any branches.
  • These branches are important as they ensure that the plant remains anchored on to the soil during heavy rainfall.

Grasses

  • All grasses are gymnosperms with fibrous root systems where equal lengths of root arise from the stem of the plant.
  • The roots are underground that anchor the plant to the soil and absorb water and nutrients for the plant.
  • The roots grow horizontally in all directions and are more or less of the same length.
  • In some grasses, the stems grow under the soil-forming rhizomes which help them spread through the ground.
  • The thin and fibrous roots enable the spread of grasses through stolons or rhizomes as the roots are shorter and cannot grow deep into the soil.

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