Roots: Why Are They Important?

Friday, July 23, 2021 08:19:12 AM America/Los_Angeles

After the seed, roots are one of the first parts of a new plant we see, which indicates their role as the powerhouse of a plant. From the seed and the roots, a plant is born and will continue to be supported by its root system throughout its life cycle.   

Photo by Evergreens and Dandelions

What are tree roots?

It may seem like a silly question, but the answer is more complicated than you might think. Root systems not only help keep plants anchored in the ground, they’re a critical part of the plant’s ability to survive. Roots deliver nutrients, detect light, and help plants evade shade. Roots are usually unseen, but they can exist above ground, under water, and even in the air!

How do roots work?

You can think of root systems as functioning similarly to our blood vessels -- they’re a complex network that helps plants thrive and support overall functioning. Different parts of the root system have varying roles. For instance, root tendrils occupying the top three inches of the soil are responsible for providing moisture and nutrients, the radicle (the first root from the seed) aids in germination, and others are there to help spawn even more roots. 

Typically, roots absorb the nutrients and moisture from their environment and function as “food storage” and hold nutrients, starches, and sugars. Some plant roots, like in root veggies, are enlarged to hold more starch and carbohydrates. This is why carrots, for instance, are known for being chock full of nutrients. In addition, this explains how a full plant can blossom from a simple seed and root!

Roots are often the invisible or less visible parts of plants and so they can be easy to dismiss. But without roots to sustain and ground them, there wouldn’t be any plants! Learning more about root systems helps us value plants more and understand what they offer their environment. 


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