What are some examples of taproot plants

Plant knowledge: deep roots

Depending on their species and location, plants sometimes develop very different types of roots. A distinction is made between the three basic types of shallow roots, heart roots and deep roots. There is another subgroup of the latter - the so-called taproots. They usually only have one dominant main root that grows almost vertically into the earth.

The root system of deep-rooters and taprooters is usually a genetic adaptation to unfavorable site conditions: Most deep-rooters have their natural range in regions that are dry in summer, and they often grow on rather loose, sandy or even gravelly soils. Deep roots are essential for survival here: on the one hand, it allows trees, shrubs and perennials to tap water supplies in deeper layers of the earth, and on the other hand, stable anchoring is required on loose soils so that the taller trees in particular do not tip over in a storm.

Deep-rooted trees and shrubs

The following trees are particularly deep-rooted:

  • English oak (Quercus robur)
  • Black walnut (Juglans nigra)
  • Walnut (Juglans regia)
  • Pine trees
  • Common ash (Fraxinus excelsior)
  • Sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa)
  • Bluebell tree (Paulownia tomentosa)
  • Mountain ash (Sorbus aucuparia)
  • Apple thorn (Crataegus x lavallei ‘Carrierei’)
  • Common hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna)
  • Double fluted hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata)
  • Hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata Paul's Scarlet ’)
  • juniper
  • Pear trees
  • Quinces
  • Grapevines
  • Common broom (Cytisus scoparius)
  • Butterfly lilac (Buddleja davidii)
  • Sack flower (Ceanothus)
  • Bearded Trees (Caryopteris)
  • Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
  • Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
  • Roses

Deep-rooted perennials

There are also some deep roots among the perennials. Many of them are at home in the rock garden and have their natural habitat in so-called rock mats, where they grow in a barren, dry layer of gravel:

  • Blue pillow (Aubrieta)
  • Hollyhocks (Alcea)
  • Autumn anemones (Anemone japonica and A. hupehensis)
  • Turkish poppy (Papaver orientale hybrids)
  • Monkshood (aconite)
  • Foxglove (digitalis)
  • Evening primrose (Oenothera)
  • Candytuft (Iberis)
  • Stone herb (Alyssum)

Deep roots: The biggest drawbacks

Transplanting is particularly difficult with the taproots under the trees, if they have been ingrown for a few years. Young walnuts, for example, have a particularly pronounced taproot. On the one hand, it is a purely technical challenge to pierce the long main root growing vertically into the earth with the spade, because for this you first have to expose the root system over a large area. In addition, some species, such as the broom, do not grow back well after being transplanted. Therefore, all deep roots and especially tap roots should be transplanted in the same location after three years at the latest - after that, the chances of successful relocation in the garden are relatively low for some species.

In the nursery, the smaller deep-rooted trees, but also increasingly larger trees, are grown in containers - this is an elegant way of avoiding the transplanting problem and you don't have to worry about the plants not growing in the new location.

As far as deep-rooted perennials are concerned, there are hardly any problems with transplanting, as long as the root ball is pricked out generously. The disadvantages here are more in the reproduction, because deep-rooted plants can only be divided successfully in the rarest of cases. Therefore, you have to resort to other methods of propagation, such as root cuttings, sowing or cuttings.

Benefits of deep roots

In addition to the disadvantages mentioned, the higher deep-roots under the trees also have a few advantages from a horticultural point of view:

  • They are usually much more stable in the garden than shallow roots.
  • For the most part, they cope relatively well with dry periods.
  • They do not lift the pavement.
  • The soil under the crown does not dry out as much, so the trees can usually be planted under well (exception: the walnut).

Mixed forms between deep and shallow roots

There are some deep-rooted species that, in addition to the pronounced taproot, also develop a few shallow lateral roots - these include, for example, the walnut and the sweet chestnut. At the same time, shallow roots sometimes develop so-called sinker roots, especially on loose soils, which can become quite strong and can reach far into the depths. A typical example of this is the red spruce (Picea abies).