Root Stucture Overview


Roots are vital to plant life in large variety of ways. Not only do they provide stability and nutrient storage, they’re also the main source of acquiring nutrients and water.

Typical roots contain many different working parts that work together to sustain and grow the plant. We have laid out each of the basic parts of the root structure below as well as the three different zones.

Root Zones

Maturation Zone – The section of the roots that works like a pipeline, conducting water and nutrients from the root hairs up to the stems.

Elongation Zone This is the area where new cells are enlarging and growing.

Meristematic Zone – The zone of cells at the root tip just behind the protective root cap; these cells divide by mitosis and give rise to new cells and tissue during growth.

Root Structures

Cortex  Primary tissues of a root bound on the outside by the epidermis and on the inside by the endodermis.  In a carrot, the cortex becomes a storage organ.

Endodermis A single layer of cells in a root that separates the cortex tissues from the pericycle.

Epidermis – The outer layer of cells.

Phloem – Phloem tissue conducts products of photosynthesis from leaves throughout plant including down to the roots.

Pericycle  A layer of cells immediately inside the endodermis.  Branch roots arise from the pericycle.

Root hairs – Are absorptive unicellular extensions of epidermal cells of a root.  These tiny, hair-like structures function as the major site of water and mineral uptake.  Root hairs are extremely delicate and subject to desiccation.  Root hairs are easily destroyed in transplanting.

Root tip Meristem– Region of cell division that supports root elongation, which is found at the root tips just behind the root cap.

Root cap – A thimble-shaped group of thick-walled cells at the root tip serves as a “hard hat” to push though soil.  The root cap protects the tender meristem tissues.

Vascular system – Bundle of xylem and phloem tissues

Xylem – Xylem tissue conducts water and minerals up from the roots up through the plant