There are several types of fibrous roots: aerial roots, prop roots, and contractile roots. Fibrous roots are a mass of roots that typically grow on the organs of a plant. They grow very differently than plants with taproots.
Aerial roots are adventitious roots that grow from epiphytes such as those from the orchid family. They typically do not come into contact with the ground, instead providing nutrients and benefits to the plant through photosynthesis, water retention and as supports. Bulbous plants commonly have contractile roots. These roots perform vertical contractions that help pull the plant into the soil. Prop roots grow out horizontally and act as a support structure for plants such as corn, or a Ficus tree. They begin as a stem that grows aerial roots that eventually reach the soil, providing a stronger foundation for the plant or tree.
Fibrous roots grow from the radicle of a germinating seed, sprouting many individual roots of similar length. Fibrous roots provide a number of advantages for the plants on which they grow and the environment around them. Fibrous roots are useful for protecting the soil from erosion. The densely packed roots serve as an effective binder for the soil, helping to ward off water or wind that may displace the soil. This helps the soil retain its quality.