Difference Between Stem and Root


Main Difference

The main difference between Stem and Root is that Stem is the part of the plant body that is present above the soil, while the Root is the part of the plant body that is present below the ground.

Stem vs. Root

Stem lies above the ground level. Roots lie underground. The shoot is the portion of Stem which bears leaves, whereas roots don’t bear leaves. The Stem is also known as the central bone or basic structure of the plant body. The Root is known as the heart of the plant, which supplies it with water minerals and nutrients.


The Stem takes water and other minerals from the roots and delivers it to all the parts of the plant. Roots anchor the plant; they spread themselves in the soil to absorb water and minerals and transfer them to the Stem, leaves, and other parts of the plant through vascular bundles.

During the process of seed germination, the Stem arises from the plumule, while the roots originate from radicals. A stem may be present under the ground, but a root can’t lie above the soil surface.

Comparison Chart

It grows above the soil.It grows below the soil.
It arises from the plumule part of the embryo.It arises from the radicle part of the embryo.
It contains chlorophyll.It does not contain chlorophyll.
It usually tends to grow upward in the direction of light.It usually tends to grow away from the direction of light.
It has a large diameter.It has a small diameter.
It bears leaves, nodes, and internodes.It does not bear leaves, nodes, and internodes.
Terminal and Axillary buds are present in Stems.Terminal and Axillary bud is absent in Roots.

What is Stem?

The Stem is the central portion of the primary axis of the plant, which develops from the plumule. The leaf-bearing Stem is known as shoot. A branch is also a shoot. The part of the Stem from which a leaf arises is called a Node. The portion between two successive nodes is termed as Internode.

Stems can be Annuals (one growing season), Biennials (two growing seasons), and Perennials (for several years). Stems may be aerial such as climbers or trailers. Underground stems like rhizome superficially look like Root, but they can be recognized by distinguishing features.

Layers of Stem

  • Epidermis: The outer part of the Stem that provides stability and acts as a shield from wind and rain.
  • Phloem: It is transport tubes of the plants, moves stable molecules from one part of the plant to another section.
  • Xylem: It is like phloem, but instead of transporting foods, it carries water and dissolved minerals from roots.

What is Root?

The Root is the cylindrical plant organ, which arises from the radicle. It does not bear leaves or nodes. It is covered at its tip by the root cap. The Root contains hairs that aids in the absorption of water and minerals from the soil. Their main functions are to anchor the plant, store food, provide shelter to nitrogen-fixing bacteria, provide extra support to the plant, for which the roots undergo various types of modifications.

Roots bend in the direction of temperature that is most favorable for growth and tends to grow in the course of moisture supply. When a seed germinates, the embryonic root (radicle) gradually elongate and form the Primary Root.

Layers of Root

  • Epidermis: It is only one-celled thick. This phenomenon increases in some plants due to the presence of root hairs, which are small extensions of the skin.
  • Endodermis: It is a tightly packed layer act as transport balance between cortex and vascular cylinder.
  • Vascular Cylinder: It is inside of endodermis and pericycle surrounds it. The pericycle is a layer of cells that initiates the growth of branch roots. Xylem and phloem cells are present that transport water and food.

Key Differences

  1. The Stem is the part of the plant that is usually found above the soil, while Root is the part of a plant that is always found under the ground.
  2. Stems contain chlorophyll, whereas Roots are devoid of chlorophyll.
  3. Stems have leaves, nodes, and internodes, but Roots only have some multicellular hairs on them.
  4. Stems have a large diameter. On the other hand, Roots have a small diameter.
  5. Stem originates from plumule, while Root originates from the radicle part of the embryo.
  6. Buds are present on the Stem, but not on Roots.
  7. Stems grow towards the direction of light on the flip side Roots grow away from the direction of light.


The stem is the part of a plant that arises from plumule and grows in the direction of light above the soil. The root is the part of a plant that occurs from radical and grows away from the direction of light under the ground.

Janet White

Janet White is a writer and blogger for Difference Wiki since 2015. She has a master's degree in science and medical journalism from Boston University. Apart from work, she enjoys exercising, reading, and spending time with her friends and family. Connect with her on Twitter @Janet__White