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Stem Tuber vs. Root Tuber: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Published on January 8, 2024
Stem tubers are swollen underground stems storing nutrients, while root tubers are enlarged roots serving a similar storage function.

Key Differences

Stem tubers, like potatoes, are thickened underground stem segments storing nutrients. Root tubers, such as sweet potatoes, are modified roots that also store nutrients.
In stem tubers, buds or "eyes" can sprout into new plants. Root tubers lack these buds and reproduce differently.
Stem tubers grow from stolons or rhizomes, horizontal stems. Root tubers grow directly from the plant's root system.
The primary function of stem tubers is both storage and vegetative reproduction. Root tubers mainly serve as storage organs and are less involved in reproduction.
Stem tubers contain nodes and internodes, characteristic of stems. Root tubers, being roots, lack these stem features.

Comparison Chart

Part of Plant Modified

Underground stem


Sweet potato

Reproductive Feature

Has buds ("eyes")
Lacks buds

Growth Origin

From stolons or rhizomes
Directly from root system

Structural Characteristics

Contains nodes and internodes
Lacks nodes and internodes

Stem Tuber and Root Tuber Definitions

Stem Tuber

Stem tubers function in both nutrient storage and vegetative reproduction.
Gardeners often plant pieces of stem tubers to propagate new plants.

Root Tuber

Root tubers store nutrients and water for the plant.
Root tubers can help plants survive in adverse conditions.

Stem Tuber

A stem tuber grows from a rhizome or stolon.
Each eye on a stem tuber can grow into an independent plant.

Root Tuber

Root tubers are mainly involved in storage, not reproduction.
Root tubers are harvested mainly for their nutritional value.

Stem Tuber

Stem tubers are storage organs developed from stems.
Stem tubers can sprout new plants from their eyes.

Root Tuber

A root tuber is an enlarged storage organ developed from roots.
Sweet potatoes are nutritious root tubers.

Stem Tuber

Stem tubers contain nodes, from which new shoots can grow.
The nodes on stem tubers give rise to new shoots and roots.

Root Tuber

A root tuber grows directly from a plant's root system.
Root tubers develop underground, often unnoticed.

Stem Tuber

A stem tuber is an enlarged portion of a subterranean stem.
The potato is a commonly eaten stem tuber.

Root Tuber

Root tubers lack the nodes and "eyes" found in stem tubers.
Unlike stem tubers, root tubers do not sprout new plants.


Do root tubers have buds for reproduction?

No, root tubers typically lack buds and do not sprout new plants.

What is a root tuber?

A root tuber is an enlarged root serving primarily as a storage organ.

Are stem tubers part of the root system?

No, stem tubers are modified parts of the stem, not roots.

How do stem tubers store nutrients?

Stem tubers store nutrients in the thickened portions of underground stems.

Can root tubers be used for vegetative reproduction?

Generally, root tubers are not used for vegetative reproduction.

Can stem tubers grow into new plants?

Yes, stem tubers can sprout new plants from their buds or "eyes."

What is an example of a stem tuber?

Potatoes are a common example of stem tubers.

How do root tubers grow?

Root tubers grow directly from the plant's root system.

What is a stem tuber?

A stem tuber is a swollen underground stem segment used for storage and reproduction.

What nutrients do root tubers store?

Root tubers store water, carbohydrates, and other essential nutrients.

Why are root tubers important for plants?

Root tubers provide essential nutrient reserves, aiding plant survival in harsh conditions.

How are stem tubers harvested?

Stem tubers are dug up from the soil where they grow underground.

What's the difference in the growth of stem and root tubers?

Stem tubers grow from horizontal stems, while root tubers grow from the root system.

What is an example of a root tuber?

Sweet potatoes are a well-known type of root tuber.

Can stem tubers be eaten?

Yes, many stem tubers like potatoes are edible and nutritious.

How do root tubers adapt to environmental conditions?

Root tubers can store water and nutrients, helping plants survive in various conditions.

Are stem tubers visible above ground?

No, stem tubers develop and grow underground.

Do stem tubers contribute to plant survival?

Yes, stem tubers help plants survive through nutrient storage and reproduction.

Are root tubers edible?

Yes, many root tubers, like carrots and sweet potatoes, are edible.

Do both stem and root tubers store the same nutrients?

Both store similar nutrients, but the concentration can vary.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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