Difference between stem and root

Main difference

The main difference between stem and root is that the stem is the part of the plant’s body that is present above the ground, while the root is the part of the plant’s body that is present below the ground.

Stem versus root

The stem is above ground level. The roots are underground. The shoot is the part of the stem that has leaves, while the roots do not have leaves. The stem is also known as the central bone or basic structure of the plant body. The root is known as the heart of the plant, which provides it with minerals and nutrients for the water.

The stem takes water and other minerals from the roots and delivers them to all parts of the plant. The roots anchor the plant; they spread in the soil to absorb water and minerals and transfer them to the stem, leaves and other parts of the plant through vascular bundles.

During the seed germination process, the stem emerges from the plumule, while the roots originate from radicals. There may be a stem below the ground, but a root cannot be above the surface of the ground.

Comparative chart

Stem Root
It grows above the ground. It grows under the ground.
It arises from the plumule part of the embryo. It arises from the radicle part of the embryo.
Contains chlorophyll. It does not contain chlorophyll.
Usually it tends to grow upward in the direction of the light. Usually it tends to move away from the direction of the light.
It has a large diameter. It has a small diameter.
It has leaves, knots, and internodes. It has no leaves, knots or internodes.
The terminal and axillary buds are present on the stems. The terminal and axillary bud is absent from the roots.
What is Stem?

The stem is the central part of the primary axis of the plant, which develops from the plumule. The leaf-bearing stem is known as the bud. A branch is also a bud. The part of the stem from which a leaf emerges is called the node. The portion between two successive nodes is called Internode.

Stems can be annual (one growing season), biennial (two growing seasons), and perennial (for several years). The stems can be aerial, like vines or trailers. Underground stems such as rhizome superficially resemble the root, but can be recognized by their distinctive characteristics.

Stem layers

  • Epidermis: The outer part of the stem that provides stability and acts as a shield from wind and rain.
  • Phloem: They are the transport tubes of plants, move stable molecules from one part of the plant to another section.
  • Xylem: It is like phloem, but instead of transporting food, it transports water and dissolved minerals from the roots.

What is Root?

The Root is the cylindrical plant organ, which arises from the radicle. It has no leaves or knots. It is covered at its tip by the root cap. The Root contains hairs that help in the absorption of water and minerals from the soil. Its main functions are to anchor the plant, store food, provide shelter for nitrogen-fixing bacteria, provide additional support to the plant, for which the roots undergo various types of modifications.

The roots bend in the direction of temperature that is most favorable for growth and tend to grow in the course of moisture supply. When a seed germinates, the embryonic root (radicle) gradually elongates and forms the primary root.

Root layers
  • Epidermis: It is only single-celled thick. This phenomenon increases in some plants due to the presence of root hairs, which are small extensions of the skin.
  • Endodermis: It is a very compact layer that acts as an equilibrium transport between the cortex and the vascular cylinder.
  • Vascular cylinder: it is located within the endodermis and the pericycle surrounds it. The pericycle is a layer of cells that initiates the growth of the roots of the branches. There are xylem and phloem cells that carry water and food.

Key differences

  1. The stem is the part of the plant that is generally found above the ground, while the root is the part of a plant that is always below the ground.
  2. The stems contain chlorophyll, while the roots lack chlorophyll.
  3. The stems have leaves, nodes and internodes, but the roots only have a few multicellular hairs.
  4. The stems have a large diameter. On the other hand, the roots have a small diameter.
  5. The stem originates from the plumule, while the root originates from the radicle part of the embryo.
  6. Buds are present on the stem, but not on the roots.
  7. The stems grow in the direction of the light on the other side. The roots grow away from the direction of the light.

Final Thought

The stem is the part of a plant that emerges from the plumule and grows in the direction of the light above the ground. The root is the part of a plant that is produced from a root and grows away from the direction of light below the ground.

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