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A plant's taproot is a straight tapering root that grows vertically down. It forms a center from which other roots sprout.

Plants with taproots are difficult to transplant.

The taproot is why dandelions are hard to uproot — the top is pulled, but the long taproot stays in the ground, and re-sprouts.

A taproot system contrasts to a fibrous root system, with many branched roots.

Most trees begin life with a taproot, but after one to a few years change to a wide-spreading fibrous root system with mainly horizontal surface roots and only a few vertical, deep anchoring roots. A typical mature tree 30-50 m tall has a root system that extends horizontally in all directions as far as the tree is tall or more, but well over 95% of the roots are in the top 50 cm depth of soil.

Many taproots are modified to become storage organs.

Some plants with taproots:

Typical taproots

  • conical root : another word for taproot.
  • fusiform root : tapers at the top and at the bottom, e.g. the taproot of a white radish.
  • napiform root : is broader than it is long, e.g. the root of a turnip.

External links and references

Last updated: 08-27-2005 16:03:12
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