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Types of Root Vegetables

Types of Root Vegetables

Root vegetables are widely planted for harvesting their edible roots or modified stems (corm, tuber, rhizome). With so many varieties, listing all types of root vegetables is not an easy task. Here's how to classify them, and some of the popularly consumed root vegetable types.
Ningthoujam Sandhyarani
Last Updated: Dec 13, 2018
As the term clearly suggests, root vegetables are edible parts of plants harvested from their underground system. Despite the name, this category includes both true roots and non-roots (or modified stems) of plants.
However, two things shared by all types of root vegetables are, they serve as the main function of storing nutrients for the plants, and are extracted from underneath the soil surface.
Classification of Root Vegetables
All of us are aware of the fact that plant roots perform the function of anchoring to the soil and drawing moisture along with nutrients from the soil medium. But some plants have specialized roots that help to store maximum nutrients.
Altogether the roots of a plant are called the root system. The list of root vegetables is definitely a long one. Before we take a look at the various types, let's take a brief look about edible stems and roots that are grouped under these vegetables.
Taproot
This is a true root and not a modified stem. It is an enlarged, fleshy root that is broad at the top and tapers gradually at the base. From the sides of the main taproot, other smaller fibrous roots emerge laterally.
turnip
Examples of taproots that are consumed as vegetables include carrot, radish and turnip.
Tuberous Root
Sweet potato over rustic wooden background
Colloquially known as a storage root, it is a lateral root that has been modified to serve as a storage portion for the plant under inactive growth season. Common examples are yam and sweet potato. It is large-sized, starchy and contains high amounts of nutrients.
Bulb
Dahlia tubers
A bulb is a fleshy, globular stem used for vegetative propagation. This structure acts as a dormant phase for seed producing plants (for example: dahlia bulbs, onion bulbs, etc.) under unfavorable conditions and houses a tender bud. When favourable conditions arrive, the resting bud germinates and grows into a new plant.
Rhizome
It is another underground structure that grows in a horizontal manner. Even when the parent plant dies due to unfavorable growth conditions, this underground stem survives, allowing the plant to propagate asexually.
Arrowroot Root Vegetable
It later produces both roots and shoot for further growth. Examples of rhizome vegetables are turmeric, lotus root and arrowroot.
Tuber
Many fleshy and dense root vegetables are of tuber type. This is another modified stem, which is adapted for storing plant nutrients and also, for vegetative reproduction.
Tiger nuts
Potato is one such example of tuber that is consumed as a starchy vegetable. Other examples of the same category are groundnut, Jerusalem artichoke and tiger nut.
Corm
Very often, we confuse a corm with tuber. Also referred to as bulbotuber, it is a vertical, short and bulbous stem. The plants that form a corm use this modified stem for asexual reproduction during extreme cold and hot climatic conditions.
Chestnuts food
Examples of edible corms consumed as vegetables include taro, chestnut and cocoyam.
Common Types of Root Vegetables
When it comes to planting root vegetables, it's simple and effortless. Nearly all of them are used for asexual reproduction processes. They themselves are responsible for vegetative propagation, when the parent plants are unable to produce seeds. In short, they play a major role in helping the plants to overcome the least hospitable environmental conditions.
Carrots
Garden Fresh Carrots
A carrot is an excellent root vegetable for raw diet plan. This orange colored taproot is a rich source of beta carotene and is beneficial for improving eyesight.
Carrots are also added in a number of vegetarian and non-vegetarian stir fry recipes. So, if you have a vegetable garden, you should definitely try growing this root vegetable.
Potato
Yellow Potato
Talk about the types of root vegetables and you really cannot skip potato. Yes, this starchy vegetable is an essential crop for the world food supply, leading 4th in the list of largest food crops.
This tuberous root is starchy and comes in various varieties (approximately 4,000 species). It can be stored easily and serves an excellent vegetable for every season.
Beets
Beet roots
Most of us are well acquainted with the red colored beets or beetroots. But these types of root vegetables are also available in white, striped and golden colors.
Beets are popularly consumed by baking, steaming or boiling. But, you can saute them with flavorful vegetable oil or butter for a real treat. They can also be pickled for preservation.
Radish
White radish root
Radish is not just a vegetable, but it holds a specific place in herbal treatment. A good source of vitamin C, it is found in different shapes, colors and sizes.
Classification of this tuber vegetable is done with respect to the growing season. What's more, the top green portion of radishes can be consumed like other leafy vegetables.
Garlic
Cutting board of garlic
Garlic shares the same family with onion, and is appreciated for its wide range of uses.
Indeed, there is hardly any herbaceous plant that is as valuable as garlic in both culinary and medicinal applications. Though the leaves are also harvested for cooking purposes, the underground bulb is more commonly used in raw or cooked form.
Onion
Fresh red onions on a wooden background
Who doesn't know onion, garlic and ginger? They are the most frequently used flavoring ingredients for food recipes. There are varied types of onions, which differ in color, size and taste.
All parts of the onion plant are edible and you can use them in salads, cooking and preserved foods. Onions are found raw, pickled, canned, powdered, caramelized and in several other forms.
Ginger and Turmeric
Fresh ginger
The rhizomes of ginger and turmeric plants are harvested for use as spices. They act as flavoring agents in cooking varied dishes. In addition, they are highly prized herbs in medicine and cosmetics.
You might be already aware about the antiseptic properties of turmeric, and drinking ginger tea for cold and cough. The rhizomes are sold in raw, dried or in powdered forms.
Root vegetables like potatoes, carrots, turnips, beets, can be used in many ways. They impart a nice color, flavor and taste to various dishes. The starchy roots can be eaten raw, baked, grilled or you can simply fry them. Whichever method you cook them, these vegetables yield carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and many other nutrients for a complete diet.