The taproot is an enlarged plant root that vertically grows downward. Plants with taproots are not usually easily moved due to the fact that they grow deep. For examples Dandelions are difficult to uproot because of the presence of a taproot, and although the top portion of the plant is pulled, the long taproot will remain beneath the soil and will eventually sprout again.

Unlike the fibrous root system that has numerous branched roots, the taproot system only contains a single, bark-like root with some tiny fine roots emerging from it.

Several plants, particularly dicots, normally start with a taproot with a single root forming from the seed’s enlarging radicle.

A taproot forms an axis that dominantly penetrates the earth downward to a sufficient depth without the need of dividing (a process that gives rise to the formation of lateral roots).


Turnip taproot photograph by John Morgan. Turnips have what is known as a Napiform root.

Different taproots can be modified to become storage organs of water or food; and can also be long enough to reach water deep in the ground.

Types of Taproot

There are three types of taproots::

  1. Conical root. Another term for taproot.

  2. Fusiform root. Radish is an example of this, wherein tapers are found at the top and bottom and the roots are widest in the middle.

  3. Napiform root. Turnip is a good example of this root, as instead of being long, napiform roots are broader and conical in shape.

Plants with taproots include carrot, dandelion, burdock, parsley, poppy mallow, parsnip, beets, sagebrush, turnip and radish.

©2005-2015 Plant Biology Advice - Dean Ravenscroft