Difference Between Roots and Shoots

Plants are one of the groups of living organisms. They are classified under the kingdom Plantae. Plants are non-motile and are present in the same place they germinate unless they are moved to another place by a human. Plants make a large composition of the living world. Every animal depends on plants either directly or indirectly. Plants have different parts that help them in many specific ways.

Roots vs Shoots

The main difference between roots and shoots is that roots are useful in absorbing the essential nutrients for plant growth and survival along with water but, shoots help to transport these essential things throughout the plant. In most plants, roots are not visible as they are buried in the soil while, shoots are what we directly see in a plant it comprises of branches, leaves, stems, and flowers.

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The root is the plant part that grows beneath the soil. When a seed germinates the root part grows towards the soil. The root is meant for getting water for the plant. Roots are of different types and they differ based on the type of habitat the plant lives in. The two main types of roots are Taproots and Fibrous roots.

The Shoot part of the plant grows above the soil level. It includes Stem, Leaf, Flower, Branches, and Fruits. The shoot is responsible for photosynthesis and the transportation of food materials throughout the plant body. The shoot of different plants is different in structure. The shoots of plants in the desert are adapted to conserve water and of water, plants are adapted to float.

Comparison Table Between Roots and Shoots

Parameters of Comparison RootsShoots
Location Below groundAbove ground
Function Anchorage and water absorption Reproduction, Transpiration, and Photosynthesis
Components Roots, Root tubers, and rhizome Flower, leaf, branches, and stem
Special structures In some plants roots are developed into root tubers by the storage of starch and water Shoots of water plants are adapted to float in water and desert plant shoots are specialized to store water
Food productsCarrot, Beetroot, Tapioca, Turnip, and ginger are some commonly eaten rootsSugarcane, Spinach, Fruits, etc,

What are Roots?

The roots are the underground part of a plant. They help in taking water along with nutrients from the soil. They also function in anchoring the plants to the soil. Tall trees like eucalyptus have long roots. These roots go so deep in the soil searching for a water source. Roots are very essential for the normal health of the plants.

Different plants have a particular type of roots. Plants like lotus and water lily have roots adapted to float and grow in water. Some plants and trees have taproots that grow deep and have one main root. The other type is the fibrous roots in which there are no deep roots but many roots that are present in the form of a network on the surface.

In special types of plants like the epiphytes, the roots are present in a way to attach the plant to trees or other hosts. The roots of epiphytes have a special function of absorbing moisture from the environment. Orchids and Vanda are the perfect examples of Epiphytes.

Some plants store their food materials and water in roots. Their reserve food material starch is stored in the tubers. Plants use this food during the time of draught. Good examples of this type of root tubers are potatoes, turnips, carrots, etc, Since, these roots tubers are rich in nutrients they are used as food by a human.

What are Shoots?

The shoot of a plant consists of all the apical parts of a plant. The shoot is responsible for important plant processes like photosynthesis and reproduction. The shoot of different types of plants differ. Angiosperms have a different shoot type and the shoot of gymnosperms is different. In germinating seed the green sprout that grows towards the light source develops into the shoot.

The shoot of trees is used as timber and shoot yields beneficial products like fruits and flowers. In some plants like sugarcane, the food materials are stored in the stem which is a part of the shoot. The shoot of leafy greens can be eaten. Herbivores usually feed on this part of the plant.

The shoot of a plant is very important just like the roots of it. Shoot helps in vital functions like respiration, photosynthesis, and reproduction. Leaves are part of the shoot they contain the pigment chlorophyll which is responsible for Photosynthesis. The energy and food produced by photosynthesis are transported throughout the plant.

Leaves contain small openings that are responsible for the transpiration process. These openings are called Stomata. Shoot bears reproductive structures like flowers which then develop into fruit and seed. Since the shoot of plants differs in looks the plants with beautiful shoots are mostly used for gardening and ornamental purposes.

Main Differences Between Roots and Shoots

  1. Roots are present inside the soil and maybe outside in some plants but, shoots are present outside the soil
  2. Roots are involved in the water absorption process but, shoot have a wide range of functions
  3. Root does not photosynthesize since it lacks chlorophyll but, shoots undergo photosynthesis
  4. Root tubers can be used to propagate plants by vegetative methods while shoots get involved in sexual reproduction by flowering
  5. Roots anchor the plant and protect it from storm and wind whereas, shoots have plant fibers that give them strength
  6. Some of the commonly eaten roots are potatoes, turnip, carrot, etc, while edible shoots are greens, cilantro, asparagus, etc.


The roots and shoots are equally important for the survival and growth of a plant or tree. While roots provide anchoring and water with nutrients shoot helps in other functions. Plants are moderately tolerant to cuts and breakages. They can regenerate the broken part like the root and shoots.

Plant propagation can be done by shoot propagation or root tuber propagation. Both the root and shoot of some plants have high medicinal values and can be used to treat some diseases. Roots like turnip, tapioca, carrot, and beetroot are eaten. Shoots like sugarcane, spinach, greens, etc, are edible. Root and shoot parts also differ in cellular organization.


  1. https://academic.oup.com/jxb/article-abstract/36/1/39/524566
  2. https://acsess.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.2134/agronj1984.00021962007600010029x
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