Is a corn plant a fibrous root

Root systems

Depending on the plant class (monocotyledonous or dicotyledonous), different root systems occur: Most monocotyledonous plants form a root system in which all roots are equally pronounced (homorrhiz). Most dicotyledonous plants have a system of major and minor roots (allorhiz).


One or more main roots are formed, from which secondary or side roots branch off. The main roots also persist later. They have the primary task of anchoring. With a so-called taproot (individual, vertically downwardly directed main roots), some plant species try to access groundwater or a more favorable nutrient supply when the soil conditions in the upper layers are unfavorable. They are known as deep roots, examples of plants with tap roots are the dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), the beech (Fagus sylvatica) or the oak (Quercus robur).

Other plants develop several main roots, but stay with them close to the surface of the terrain. They are known as shallow roots. Their main roots spread horizontally and plate-shaped in the upper soil layers. You can colonize wet soils (e.g. on the banks of rivers, e.g. willows, Salix spec.) or grow on rocky ground in the mountains (e.g. spruce, Picea abies). Other examples are poplars (Populus spec.) or sand birch (Betula pendula). The spruce trees are a special case: in addition to the horizontally oriented main roots, they form so-called sinkers. In unfavorable soil conditions, however, these die, which leads to an increased susceptibility to windthrow.


Here all roots come “equally” directly from the stem axis (primary homorrhizia, e.g. ferns) or the main root dies after some time and secondary roots of the same rank remain. The roots form a fibrous, dense network that promotes the uptake of seeping rainwater and ensures that the plant is firmly anchored in the ground. Examples are the chicken millet (Echinochloa crus-galli) or the corn (Zea mays).

In addition, a distinction is made between coarse and fine roots. Coarse roots are strong and stable and often lignified. They define the main root space of the plant and stabilize it.

Fine roots form a dense, filigree network in the soil. Due to their large surface area, they are very suitable for absorbing water that circulates in the fine soil pores, together with the nutrients dissolved in them. They also have an important function to hold the soil crust and thus protect it from erosion. Fine root systems can take up a large area together with the root hairs. They only have a short lifespan and are very sensitive to soil acidification and the associated heavy metal load.

See also: root, root (structure), root (metamorphoses).