Adventitious Roots: Definition & Examples

Instructor: Ebony Potts

Ebony has taught middle and high school physical science, life science & biology. She's also been an assistant principal and has a doctorate in educational administration.

Have you ever heard of adventitious roots? Well, many plants have the ability to produce them. In this lesson, you will learn about them as well as some examples of plants with this ability.

Your Favorite Plant

Oh no! Your cat and dog were fighting again while you were out, and your favorite plant was caught in the middle of the melee. Some of the leaves of your fern were ripped off from the main stalk. You are so upset! You remember when your aunt Shirley gave you that plant as a housewarming gift. As you think about the day she gave it to you, you also remember something she said to you. Aunt Shirley said that you could always grow another plant by using leaves from the original plant! You hope that she was right. You take a few of the leaves that were ripped off of the plant and place their stems in water in the window. To your surprise, a few days later you see what look like roots coming from the leaves. Your plant will be saved after all!

Adventitious Roots

Plants are in a constant fight to survive. Just like the fern in the introduction, all plants are constantly faced with obstacles that they have to overcome in order to survive. Some plants have developed adaptations, which is when an organism picks up habits or behaviors that allow them to be better suited for their environment. The plants with the best adaptations have a better competitive edge over other plants that do not posses the same adaptation. One very helpful adaptation, is the ability to produce adventitious roots, like the fern. Most plants germinate when its seed is placed in fertile soil. The roots of the typical germinating plant are located at its base. If the plant is pulled up from its base, and the roots don't find their way back to the soil, the plant will die. Or, like our fern, if its leaves and stem are cut, most plants will die as well. Plants with the ability to sprout adventitious roots have a competitive edge on these types of plants.

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