Root systems are quite easily overlooked. Out of sight, out of mind, right? Not always. This article takes you back to your HORT 101 class.  And it’s good reading for those of us who may be just a few decades away from that last class. 🙂

This article was originally published in March of 2003 in Lawn and Landscape. It is packed with great information, and jeesh! it took me at least a week to write, so no complaining, spend 10 minutes here and freshen up!

Excerpt from "What Lies Beneath": 

As a component of a universal three-part plant system, including roots, stems and leaves, roots often take the behind-the-scenes supportive roles essential to total production, but far from the limelight of recognition and celebrity. Leaves – the photosynthesizing plant organs – are typically the show stars, receiving not only all of the hype and acclaim for their performance, but also the "oohs" and "aahs" over their aesthetic appearance. Therefore, the root system of a vascular plant may be one of the most oversimplified and underappreciated organs in living history.

ROOT DOWN. A root system’s primary functions are anchorage and the absorption of water and minerals. The secondary functions include storing water and minerals and producing shoot growth hormones. A plant is comprised of an above ground shoot system, which includes the stem or trunk and leaves, and a below ground root system. The stem or trunk supports the photosynthesizing plant organs – the leaves. These organs function with the help of a highly developed vascular system, which consists of two conductive tissues – xylem and phloem that exist together and circulate through the entire plant. Xylem transports water up from the roots to the leaves and phloem distributes food throughout the plant.

Growth within the root system is two-part. Primary growth originates from the apical meristem – an area of perpetually embryonic cell tissue. Apical meristems are located at the tips of roots and shoots and manufacture the plant’s extension growth. Secondary growth, which thickens the roots, originates from the vascular cambium and the cork cambium, two lateral meristems….. For the complete article visit Lawn and Landscape.