Potato is one of the most popular vegetables. We all like to have it in our plates. It is the staple diet of many countries. Believe me, it is the most consumable vegetable worldwide. Besides all, there is still confusion the potato is a root or stem. Today I will try to explain the facts regarding this issue.
potato is a Root or Stem?- Biologically it is a tuberous stem. Actually, It is a part of the stem that is swollen and grown underground.
Scientific Name of Potato: – Solanum Tuberosum. It is well pronounced as -“Solanum Tu-berosum”
Is potato a Root?
It is a very obvious question. First of all, those who don’t know much about potato farming- let me tell you that it grows underground. Yes under the soil.
A single potato plant can grow 10-20 potatoes together. Another important fact about the potato is that it can be cultivated only once. It means you can harvest potatoes once from each plant.
Now, coming to the point, Being an underground vegetable- we think potato as root but is it so?
No, really It is not a root. Potato seems to be a root though it is a stem. Actually, It is a modified stem usually called a tuber. Technically potato is a modified stem called tuber that grows underground. These are connected by stem sections called stolons.
Being a stem, potato exhibits certain characteristics that only a stem can possess. Roots cannot show these characteristics as these are not meant to perform such functions.
Potato root or a Stem
New potato plant can be directly grown from a potato. This is a specific characteristic of vegetative propagation. Usually, we see such propagation in the case of budding.
If you examine a potato closely, you will see several small notches or pits. These are the spots where new buds will grow.
These buds develop to stem and leaves. So we can easily conclude that potato is a part of the stem.
Now, If it is stem, then why it looks different in color and shape?
potato is a Tuber
First of all, it is not clear that potato is a stem. Now, we will discuss its structure in detail.
When you see a potato, no matter big or small- It looks irregular. Being irregular is the prime identification of a tuber. Symmetrically if you ignore the roughness, then it can be treated as both cylinder or oval occasionally.
The color of a potato is somewhat between pale yellow to white. Also, it comes in a little reddish variant. The color usually depends on the variety we grow.
Talking about the shapes, A potato can be round, oval or cylinder all in an irregular shape. Generally, the shape of a potato varies according to the nature of the soil. If the soil is hard then potato will be small. On the other hand, if the soil is porous then the potato can grow big enough to attain the weight of nearly half a pound or 200-300 grams approx.
So, what makes a potato look like this? why does a stem swell to form potato?
An interesting question isn’t it. Actually, a potato is not swollen by mistake. It is the genetics that compiles it to swell. A potato swell after the accumulation of starch. If you remember my previous post on the use of Glucose by plants then you might know that plant prepare glucose for their use. Plants store this glucose in the form of starch. Potato is the best example of stored starch.
A Potato plant stores excess of its prepared food in the modified stems that forms a tuberous structure. Technically, Tuberous means “Tube Like”. Therefore a Potato is a well identified Tuberous stem.
Potato is a stem, not a root- Why?
This is very obvious to say that potato is a stem. But can you differentiate why we can say it a root or why it should be considered as a stem, not a root?
It is pretty simple, Potato forms buds that can develop to form new plants. This a type of budding and characteristics of the stem. No root can show direct budding. In fact, roots can grow into new plants but in such case at first the stem then the leaves will develop with proper root structure.
Secondly, If see closely then you can easily distinguish that the section joining the potato with the plant is very different from a root. Actually, these are the stolons, a connective tubular stem that binds and conducts starch and water to the growing potato.
Third and the most important difference is the structuring. A normal root is meant to absorb and conduct water and minerals to the plant. But a modified stem or a tuber like a potato is meant to store prepared food for the future generation. It is two very different tasks and hence will react differently in the presence of water.
A simple activity to check Potato is a Stem
Ok, I think I have my words. Everything you need to know about the Potato tuber-“Tuber stem” is here for you. Now I will show you a very easy trick to show potato is a Stem. How to prove- Potato is a stem? Do You know, if not then please read carefully?
- Take a big and healthy potato from your kitchen. It should be fresh and not boiled.
- Take a small pot with some good quality Soil in it.
- Plant the potato in the pot. You have to be a little careful in this step.
- First, fill the pot with soil and leave 2-3 inch space from the top.
- Now place the potato in the center and put some soil over it.
- water it completely, fill more water until it comes out from the drainage hole in the bottom of the pot.
- after watering place the pot in a semi-shaded region for 10-15 days.
- Probably within a week after potting you will see tiny plants coming out from the soil.
- Water it properly whenever needed.
- When the plant gets 4-6 inches height. Remove soil from its root carefully.
- You will see tiny potatoes there.
- Carefully move a few of them above the ground. DON’T DAMAGE THE JOINTS. Be Careful *
- Again water the plant and let the potatoes grow bigger.
- After a few days you will see, The potatoes above the ground get green. Yes, It will develop Chlorophyll.
- Only stems can develop chlorophyll for photosynthesis. No Root can show these Characteristics. Roots can not develop chlorophyll.
- This experiment confirms that Potato is a Stem, not a Root. If you think I am wrong then you should try this same experiment with some roots of any plant. Check whether it grows green or not.
Do potatoes grow underground?- Yes Obviously, Potato Grew underground. All varieties of potato can be grown underground. You can still grow potatoes without soil. For that, You need to set up a Hydrophonic garden, that requires controlled water and mineral flow.
Which part of potato do we eat, the root or stem? – Technically we eat the stem, though many of us think it as the root of the plant. You should always remember biologically a potato is a modified stem called tuber. It is somewhat storehouse of the plant.
Is a potato a legume?- No, Technically it is not a legume. Though it seems like a legume, actually it a Tuberous Stem that grows under the soil. The tuberous stem that connects these is called stolons. The major difference between a leguminous plant and a tuberous plant like potato is the formation of the node.
In a legume, The nodes are formed by the accumulation of nitrogen seeking bacterias. The cluster forms swelling in the roots and looks like a porous bulge. On the other hand, a tuberous plant as potato is formed by the accumulation of the starch in the modified stems called tubers.
Is potato a starch? – Yes, Potato is mostly a stored form of starch. We can eat it and its a good source of carbohydrate. The starch gets dissolved and broken into composite sugars that we use as an energy source. The starch provides a firm structure for the potato. It the main reason for the hardness of the Potato. Without starch, a potato may look like an ordinary green soft stem.
Is a potato a vegetable? – yes, potato is a vegetable. I personally like it always. I am sure you all will do. In fact, it is a part of the staple diet in many countries.
Sometimes it is treated as the king of the vegetables. If you are a food lover then you can make 100s of recipes with potatoes. The best part is potato doesn’t have any specific taste like- sour, bitter or spicy. So you can make anything from sweet to sour and even spicy out of a Potato.
Please share your views on what do you think about potato- Is it a stem or a root? just answer or comment on your views below. Hope you have liked this post. If I missed something then please let me know?