Plants with taproots are difficult to transplant.
The 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:
- Patterson's Curse
- Poppy mallow
- Sturt's Desert Pea
It develops from the radicle of the seed. The radicle grows into the primary root or the taproot. It produces branches called the scondary roots. These branch to form secondary roots and they in turn produce branches to form tertiary roots. These may further branch to form rootlets.
- 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.
- 2006-01-13, Sciencedaily: Deep-rooted Plants Have Much Greater Impact On Climate Than Experts Thought Citat: "...The tap roots transfer rainwater from the surface to reservoirs deep underground and redistribute water... increases photosynthesis and the evaporation of water... by 40 percent in the dry season... During the wet season, these plants can store as much as 10 percent of the annual precipitation as deep as 13 meters (43 feet) underground, to be tapped during the dry months... tree roots acting like pipes to allow water to shift around much faster than it could otherwise percolate through the soil."
- One reference at Ohio State
- Fullerton Arboretum on taproots