Do Cactus Have Roots? Here's All You Need To Know About Succulents | Kidadl


Do Cactus Have Roots? Here's All You Need To Know About Succulents

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As all of us know, the root is an essential part of any plant in the world.

Every kind of vascular plant on this earth has some type of root. This helps them gather nutrients through the soil to complete their photosynthesis.

Cacti, being vascular plants, also have roots. Their looks and functions may vary from species to species. Roots are essential for any plant to grow. They help the plants harvest food and water through the soil they grow in. In this article, we will look at the different kinds of succulent roots and their functions and learn a lot more about cacti in general. So, if you have any questions about how the roots of a cactus function, this article is just what you need.

Roots: Meaning And Their Function

As we all know, the root is the part of any vascular plant that grows underground. Let us look at the functions of roots in plants.

There are primarily two functions of roots. The first is to anchor the plant into the ground so that the tree or plant does not fall over. The second one is to absorb water and minerals from the ground and conduct them to the stem. Roots also act as storage for reserved food for plants. They are different from the stem in more ways than one. First, they do not have buds or leaf scars. They also have root caps, and the root branches grow from internal tissues rather than from buds, as is the case with the stem.

As there are many different types of plants and trees in the world, there are also many different types of roots. The primary root is called a radicle, and it is the first organ that appears from seeds when they germinate. It anchors the seedling into the ground. The radicles then become tap roots as many secondary roots grow from the main root to make a system. In turnips or radishes, taproots also act as food storage for the plants. This is usually the case in dicotyledons and gymnosperms. Monocotyledons like grasses typically have a fibrous root system. Some plants have adventitious roots that grow from stems or leaves. Trees like banyan and screw-pine have these roots, and they are called aerial roots. Their aerial roots also help to anchor the tree into the ground. There are also lateral roots that can be found in mangroves. There are some other types of roots as well. Succulent plants and cacti also have very interesting roots that we will take a look at now. We can trim the succulents using pruners.

Types Of Roots In Cactus with Examples

All types of cacti have roots. They might differ in characteristics and functions, but they are all very important for the plant to grow.

The cactus root system can vary a lot depending on the type of cacti. Much like other plants, some cacti have deep taproots. They send down this taproot after the seed germinates, and it is mainly there to serve as an anchor. These deep roots are primarily present in columnar cacti. Some of the cacti with these roots are the saguaro cactus, the giant Mexican cereus. Both of these grow in the Sonoran desert.

A saguaro cactus will usually have some branches, whereas a barrel cactus will never have any. Some cacti have lateral roots in addition to taproots. The cacti that do not have taproots only have lateral roots. These cacti depend on these lateral roots to anchor them in place and harvest water and food. Saguaros have lateral roots that can absorb moisture from even light rains. A young saguaro can be only a few inches tall but have a massively spread root system. But these fine roots do not go very deep into the soil at all.

Succulent roots are another type of roots commonly found in cacti. These cactus roots can store food in them, just like the cacti stem. The xylem tissues of the root become enlarged to store food. One of the cacti with succulent roots is the Arizona Queen of the Night. A cactus called the Ariocarpus fissuratus can shrink its enlarged fleshy taproots and draw the stem part of the plant under the soil surface to survive drought periods. Even though it is rare, some cacti have adventitious or aerial roots. They are usually common in epiphytic cacti. These types of cacti usually grow among tree branches. Some examples of this type of cacti are Night-blooming Cereus and orchid cacti. In orchid cacti and Night-blooming Cereus, the roots come out from the side of the stems. These roots help the climbing cactus stems anchor themselves onto the trees. As we mentioned before, all types of cacti have roots, and the cactus root system is varied amongst species. Cactus roots can grow up to 3 ft (91.44 cm).

Cactus roots play a huge role in the survival of the plants.

How are cactus roots different than other plants?

As cacti grow in desert areas, their roots are different from that of other plants.

A lot of cacti have fibrous roots. Usually, these are shallow roots that do not go very deep into the soil but instead spread laterally to find substance. But if they grow in areas with more moisture, the roots typically go deeper into the soil to find water. Sometimes cacti cannot get enough water from the soil. In these cases, if the atmosphere is humid, the cacti can start growing aerial roots to gain water from above the surface.

Like other plants, the water supply of the cacti also depends on their roots. Most cacti have a taproot system that helps them get water from the ground. They also have lateral roots that branch away from the central taproot, searching for water. They are usually shallow but widespread, thin, and can form a cluster. These roots live shorter than taproots. The cactus collect water whenever it rains; then, this water is stored in the stems. Taproots are essential because these roots tend to also store water in them. So cacti roots are very different from typical plant roots as cacti survive in a different climate altogether.

The Specialty Of Cactus Roots

You probably already understand that cacti roots play a huge role in the survival of these plants.

Cacti can survive in deserts without any rainfall for years. They have modified leaves that stop any retained water from evaporating. These leaves are the spines that we see in cacti. Cacti belong in the succulent family, which stores water in their fleshy stems. Cacti have various ways of retaining water. For example, like typical trees, cacti also have stomata, but instead of being on the leaves, their stomata are on their stems. The stomata of cacti also open in the night instead of opening in the day like typical plants. This makes it so they do not lose any additional water in the desert heat. Their stems also have a waxy coating that retains as much water as possible. Since water intake is an arduous process for the cacti due to the desert climate, they have evolved in these amazing ways to ensure they survive at all costs.

Written By
Moumita Dutta

<p>A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.</p>

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