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Montessori Botany

Montessori Botany: Types of Roots (Lesson, Quiz and Worksheet)

The two main types of root systems, an introduction to some specialized roots, and a quiz and worksheet to help with mastery.

hunterswoodsph Montessori botany taproot

In this post on root types, you will find the following:

  • Two main types of root systems
  • Types of roots quiz
  • Root vocabulary: special types of roots
  • Types of roots worksheet
  • Did you know?

There are two main types of root systems:

Taproot system – has a strongly developed downward-growing main root (called a taproot) and smaller branch roots

  • Most dicots have a taproot system.
  • The main function of the taproot is to store food. These roots also maximize support.
  • Fleshy taproots — such as those of carrots and beets — store large reserves of food.

Fibrous (also known as diffuse) root system – has many roots of the same size that develop from the end of the stem, with smaller lateral roots that branch off them in all directions.

  • Most monocots have a fibrous root system.
  • The main function of these roots is to anchor the plant. They also maximize absorption.
  • Fibrous roots cling tightly to the soil and are excellent at preventing erosion.

Quiz: Two Main Types of Roots

Taproot or Fibrous?

Root Vocabulary: Special Types of Roots

These are just some of the special types of roots. Note that one may be just a subtype of another; for example, the stilt roots of mangroves are a kind of adventitious root, and tuberous roots such as potatoes are a kind of storage root. Sometimes, buttress roots, prop roots, and stilt roots are used interchangeably.

Adventitious roots are roots that form on parts of the plant (such as the stem) other than the roots.

Aerating roots are roots that rise above the ground, especially above water. In some mangroves, the aerating roots have numerous breathing pores for gas exchange. Aerating roots are also called pneumatophores.

Aerial roots are roots that are entirely above the ground, such as in ivy and in orchids.

Buttress roots are large, wide roots on all sides of the base of a tree. They are usually found in tropical forests with soil that is nutrient-poor and not very deep. They gather more nutrients and prevent the tree from falling over.

hunterswoodsph Montessori botany buttress Roots

Haustorial roots are roots of parasitic plants (such as mistletoe) that can absorb water and nutrients from another plant.

Prop roots are adventitious roots that develop from branches or from vertical stems and grow downward into the soil to help support the plant in an upright position.

Stilt roots are adventitious roots that grow down from lateral branches and branch in the soil. They are common among mangroves.

Storage roots are roots that are modified for storage of food or water, such as carrots and beets.

Tuberous roots are a special kind of storage root. Unlike carrots and beets, which are taproots, tuberous roots develop from lateral roots that have swollen to store food or water. Examples of tuberous roots include sweet potatoes and dahlia.

Types of Roots: Montessori Botany Worksheet

Match the pictures to the different types of roots.

You can download a printable PDF copy of this worksheet here: Montessori Botany Types of Roots Printable Worksheet (PDF) 

Note: you can reduce the size of the worksheet by zooming out your browser screen. For Windows users, scroll down the mouse wheel while pressing the Ctrl key in your keyboard.

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