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Difference Between Stems and Roots

Last updated date: 24th Jul 2024
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Stems and Roots- Important Plant Parts

The producers on our planet, plants are autotrophic. Plants are designed in such a way that they can produce their food from sunlight, water, and minerals in the soil. The two main parts of a plant body are the stem, the part that stays above the ground and holds the other parts of the plant, and the root which grows below the ground and helps keep the plant fixed in one place. The roots absorb minerals and water. Both these plant parts have many important functions on which the survival of the plants depend.

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The stem of a plant emerges from the plumule of the embryo, exhibiting growth that is positively phototropic and negatively geotropic. Stems have nodes and internodes that facilitate the growth of different plant structures such as leaves, branches, flower buds, etc.

Functions of the Stem

  • To facilitate fluid and nutrition transport.

  • Provide mechanical support to the plant body. It changes into a trunk as the plant grows into a tree. The trunk is the hard, brown part that gives physical support. 

  • To provide an appropriate arrangement of branches and leaves.

  • Storage of nutrients and water.

  • Provide for the lifelong growth of the plant.

  • It facilitates the production of new cells and tissues.

  • Stems are composed of morphological structures- nodes, internodes, and axillary buds.


Roots are the major vegetative parts of the plants that are negatively geotropic. Roots develop from the radicals of the embryo.

Functions of Roots

  • Absorption of water

  • Storage of nutrients

  • Providing anchorage to the plants

  • Facilitating vegetative propagation

  • Roots are of various types like taproots, adventitious roots, lateral roots, fibrous roots, etc.

Let us look at the major differences between stem and roots.

Stem vs Root



Stems are the parts of plants that bear branches, leaves, and fruits.

Roots are the underground parts of plants that bear root hairs.

Their primary function is to supply minerals, water, and food to all plant parts.

Roots provide anchorage to the plant, it facilitates the absorption of water and minerals from the soil.

Stems are positively phototropic, i.e., they have an affinity towards light and grow in its direction.

Roots are negatively phototropic, i.e., roots grow away from light.

Stems of the plants bear plant structures- flowers, and buds.

Roots bear root hairs and buds.

Stems do not have a shoot tip. Instead, they possess a terminal bud.

Roots have a root cap at the tip of the root.

Stems are multicellular.

Root hairs are unicellular.

Green in colour particularly at younger stages.

Typically white in younger stages, and turns darker or brown as it grows.

Stems have nodes and internodes.

Nodes and internodes are not found in roots.

Stem branches have a thick cell wall.

Root hairs have a thinner cell wall.

Stem branches have a longer lifespan than the roots.

Root hairs have a shorter lifespan.

The branches of the stem have special functions to prevent water loss from the surface of the stem.

Root hairs primarily function to absorb water and minerals from the soil.

Stem branches are exogenous or they have an external origin and emerge from axillary buds.

Root branches are endogenous, that is, they have an internal origin and can emerge from any region.

Epidermal cells in stems are cutinized.

Epidermal cells in roots are not cutinized.

The function of the epidermis of stems is to provide protection.

The function of the epidermis of the root is to provide support to the plants and absorb nutrients and water from the soil.

The epidermis of the young stem shows the presence of stomata.

Stomata are not present in roots.

The cortex of the stems is narrow and differentiated into outer, middle, and inner compartments.

Roots have a broad and undifferentiated cortex.

Chlorenchyma in stems is seen in outer cortical cells.

Chlorenchyma is not found in roots.

The pericycle is multilayered and plays an important role in secondary thickening.

Roots have a uninuclear pericycle which is also involved in secondary thickening.

Xylem is Endarch, so the protoxylem is directed towards the centre in case of stems with metaxylem elements present at the periphery.

Xylem is exarch in the case of roots, as protoxylem is directed to the periphery and metaxylem present at the centre.

Xylem and phloem fibres are present in the stems.

Xylem and phloem fibres are not present in roots.

Vascular bundles of stems are conjoint and collateral.

Vascular tissues in roots are arranged radially.

Secondary vascular growth in stems occurs by cambium by both intrafascicular and interfascicular.

If secondary vascular growth takes place, it emerges from conjunctive parenchyma and pericycle.

How Vedantu helps in preparing NEET Aspirants for Stems and Roots

The National Eligibility cum Entrance Examination is needed to be taken by all medical aspirants.  It is conducted to assess the quality of students who will be taken in for MBBS  and other related medical courses.  The difference between stems and roots can be understood if one reads about them properly.  The stem originates from the plumule of the embryo and has nodes and internodes. It stores the nutrients and water for plants which makes sure that the plants get nourished for life. Roots are the chief vegetative parts of the plant and develop from the radicals of the embryo. They help in the absorption of water and lend anchorage to all plants. More about this has been explained by Vedantu.

Vedantu has information for NEET on its platform. This page has explained what the different parts of a plant are. It has then discussed the distinction between stems and roots through comparing them properly.  The functions of both have been explained in detail and everything that’s coming for NEET has been included on this page. NEET aspirants need to be overly serious in terms of their preparation as even the slightest amount of negligence could prove to be dangerous.

FAQs on Difference Between Stems and Roots

What is the difference between the Xylem of Stems and that of Roots?

The xylem in stems is endarch which means the protoxylem is directed towards the center in the case of stems with metaxylem elements present at the periphery. On the other hand, the xylem in roots is directed to the periphery, and the metaxylem is present at the centre, so it is exarch.

What is the one basic difference between Stems and Roots?

The basic difference between stems and roots is that the stems are positively phototropic and grow above the ground to bear leaves, branches, and apical buds. However, roots are negatively phototropic and grow away from light, towards the ground and bear root hairs and buds.

Where can students find questions on Stems for NEET?

Students can find relevant matters on Stems if they go to Find The Difference Between Stems and Roots on Vedantu. This page has a lot of matter on Stems and Roots and is designed as per the syllabus for NEET. Students can refer to this and then understand the kind of questions that will come from Stems during their tests.  All questions that have a probability of coming for the tests will be understood once this page has been read properly. Students will have lesser chances of facing any difficulties if they completely read from this page and imbibe the important pointers.

Does NEET have questions on the functions of Stem?

Yes, NEET has quite some questions that have to do with the functions of stems. All the questions that are important for exams are included here. This page will provide the students with the necessary insights that are needed. NEET has a comprehensive syllabus that the students must be aware of. Skipping any portion will not be in their favour as questions can come from any part of the syllabus. It is always better to be safe in terms of one’s preparation.

How do NEET aspirants learn about nodes and internodes?

All those students looking to prepare for NEET must go through Find The Difference Between Stems and Roots on Vedantu. This page has the relevant information on nodes and internodes. Students must practise from here and then try to understand whatever’s on the page. Every part of the plant has been explained in simple terms and reading from here will assist the students in learning well and scoring higher marks in their tests. Students can also revise this page from time to time. Students can also revise this page from time to time as that will re-instate what they have already picked up.

Where can students prepare for NEET and revise the topic Stems and Roots?

Students who are preparing for NEET can look up Find The Difference Between Stems and Roots on Vedantu and then revise from here.

This page has compact information on the same and is extremely useful for all the students who have plans of appearing for NEET.  Revision of a topic becomes crucial before questions on it are attempted during exams. Revising a topic instils a sense of confidence in the aspirants and also helps them brush up on all the concepts. Revision always has its advantages.

How can students answer questions on Xylem and Phloem for NEET?

Students can read from Find The Difference Between Stems and Roots on Vedantu and then understand the mechanisms of both xylem and phloem. NEET is an essential exam for medical aspirants and needs to be prepared well in advance. After going through this page, they will get to know how they need to answer questions on both. Vedantu has provided this to the students free of cost so that it is convenient for them to go through it without any reservations in mind. Xylem and Phloem can be easily learnt if they read on it from this page.