AskDefine | Define taproot

Dictionary Definition



1 (botany) main root of a plant growing straight downward from the stem
2 something that provides an important central source for growth or development; "the taproot of his resentment"; "genius and insanity spring from the same taproot"

User Contributed Dictionary



tap + root


(US) IPA: /ˈtæpˌruːt/


  1. a long tapering root possessed by many plants (such as carrots and dandelions)


  • Italian: fittone

Extensive Definition

A plant's taproot is a straight tapering root that grows vertically down. It forms a center from which other roots sprout.
Plants with taproots are difficult to transplant. The presence of a taproot is why dandelions are hard to uproot — the top is pulled, but the long taproot stays in the ground, and re-sprouts.
A taproot system contrasts to a fibrous root system, with many branched roots.
Most trees begin life with a taproot, but after one to a few years change to a wide-spreading fibrous root system with mainly horizontal surface roots and only a few vertical, deep anchoring roots. A typical mature tree 30–50 m tall has a root system that extends horizontally in all directions as far as the tree is tall or more, but well over 95% of the roots are in the top 50 cm depth of soil.
Many taproots are modified to become storage organs.
Some plants with taproots:


It develops from the radicle of the seed. The radicle grows into the primary root or the taproot. It produces branches called the secondary roots, and they in turn produce branches to form tertiary roots. These may further branch to form rootlets.

Typical taproots

  • Conical root: this type root tuber is conical in shape, i.e. broad at the base and tapering gradually towards the apex: e.g. carrot.
  • Fusiform root: this root is swollen in the middle and tapers towards the base and the apex: e.g. radish.
  • Napiform root: the root has a top-like appearance. It is very broad at the base and tapers suddenly like a tail at the apex: e.g. turnip.

External links and references

commons Taproots
taproot in Danish: Pælerod
taproot in German: Pfahlwurzel
taproot in Spanish: Raíz primaria
taproot in Esperanto: Pivotradiko
taproot in Ido: Paliso-radiko
taproot in Italian: fittone
taproot in Dutch: Penwortel
taproot in Japanese: 直根性
taproot in Polish: Palowy system korzeniowy
taproot in Vietnamese: Rễ cái

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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