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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.