Difference Between Root and Stem (With Table)

There are different parts in a plant that can be confusing. Especially root and stem might seem confusing in the beginning, but they have a clear difference. Between roots and stem, roots are the foundation of the plant, and its health is extremely important for the healthy growth of the plant.

Root vs Stem

The difference between root and stem is the roots lie underneath the ground, and the stem is the part that lies above the roots. Roots help in absorbing and taking all the nutrients from the soil, whereas the stem conducts and transports the absorbed nutrients to different parts of the plant. Both roots and stem are known as the structural axes of any vascular plant.

The root is the functional part of the plant that usually lies below the soil, and it is vascular. It plays the role of holding the plant firmly to the soil, absorbing the nutrients, and transferring the good stuff from the soil to the plant. They also store nutrients sometimes.

The stem is the part of the plant that holds it in position above the soil. It carries the absorbed nutrients, fertilizers, and minerals from the roots to the parts of the plant. It supports and holds the flowers, leaves, and buds together in place. The nodes of the stem are the parts that further branch into smaller stems to hold the flowers and leaves.

Comparison Table Between Root and Stem

Parameters of ComparisonRootStem
DefinitionRots are the part of a plant that provides support and are under the soil. Stems are the upper part that usually provides support from the plant above the ground.
GeotropismRoots grow along the direction of gravity, and hence they are positively geotropic.   Stems grow away from gravity towards the sky, and hence they are negatively geotropic. 
Phototropism Roots are negatively phototropic as they grow in the direction opposite of that light.   The stem is positively phototropic as they grow upwards towards the sun. 
Function Provides support, holds it firmly with the soil and provides water, moisture, and nutrients from the soil.Transports the substances and also provides support for leaves, fruits, and flowers.
Above or below the groundThey are mostly under the ground, whereas they can also be above the soil in aerial plants.     The stem is always present above the ground and very rarely under the soil.    

What is Root?

The roots play a major role, and they are the only part of the plant that carries and transports the water and nutrients from the soil. They hold the plant firmly and are, in most cases, under the soil. For a few plants, they have areal roots, which means they lie fully above the ground, or a part of the root emerges outside the soil and lies above the ground.

When absorbed through a microscope, one can visibly see the four zones into which the roots are divided. These are the root caps, root hairs, apical meristem, and the elongation zone. The root caps are the part that helps the root to completely emerge and push through the soil.

New cells are produced by the apical meristem that elongates and provides more length for the roots. Roots have been developed out of the inner layer of the pericycle, and that is why they are endogenous. In other words, it is also a different extended version or a different configuration of the stem.

The roots grow and adapt themselves to the nature of the soil. In the development of the roots, there are two phases which are the primary growth and the secondary growth. The growth from the meristems is the primary growth, whereas secondary growth is in which the roots grow and develop horizontally, and its diameter changes.

What is Stem?

 Stems are an important and functional part of the plant. They support the leaves, fruits, flowers, and buds by uplifting them and accounting for the structure of the plant. The xylem and phloem in the stems are extremely inevitable for a plant as they carry water from the roots to different parts of the plant

. They also carry the food prepared by the plants from the leaves to the other parts. Apart from the roots, the stem is also a storage house of nutrients. The meristem of the stems is the main reason for the plant’s lifetime as they produce new living tissues and gives life to the plant.

Transpirational pull, root pressure, and the capillary action helps the xylem to transport water throughout the plant. The sieve tubes, along with the companion cells, are responsible for the phloem and help in transporting food. Stems are usually of two types, monocot stems and dicot stems.

Wood plants or the plants with stronger are trunk-like are called gymnosperm stems. In a few plants, the stem is also an edible part. The structure and the health of a stem can be impacted greatly by the chemicals, pesticides, and pollutants in the air. A few examples to support this are cinnamon, spinach, and onions.

Main Differences Between Root and Stem

  1. Usually, roots are present below the ground, but the stem is found above the soil.
  2. Roots absorb the water, nutrients, minerals from the soil, whereas stem transport the absorbed nutrients and water.
  3. Roots are geotropic, but the stem is negatively geotropic.
  4. Roots are negatively phototropic, while the stem is phototropic.
  5. Roots usually aren’t used for commercial pur[oses while stems are.


Between stem and roots, stems are used for commercial purposes, whereas roots don’t. For example, they are used as food, spices, in making jewelry, and sometimes also in manmade plant environments due to their high nutrition content.

The important use is that they are used to make wood that has a plethora of needs and demands. They are used in making furniture, construction and in a lot of other places. They also have great medicine values, for example, the barks of quinine and cinchona.

Camphor is also obtained from the wood of the tree. Chewing gum is also made out of stems and barks. Apart from being functional and essential to plants, the plant parts also serve us.


  1. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF00014776
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0092867405008093

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