What Is the Difference Between a Root System and a Shoot System?

The root system consists of the roots, while the shoot system is made up of the stems and leaves. The shoot system conducts substances up and down the plant; the root system stores food and retrieves nutrients from soil.

Plants can have one of two major types of root systems. A taproot, like a carrot, has one major root with smaller branches. A fibrous root system consists of many roots that are all much the same size.

Stems, leaves, fruits and flowers make up the shoot system. The leaves are the main photosynthetic organs of the plant. The stems hold the plant up and contain the xylem and phloem. The xylem conducts water and nutrients from the roots to the leaves, while the phloem takes food to the rest of the plant and down to the roots for storage. Fruits and flowers are part of the plant’s reproductive system.