is potato a root or stem

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Potato is a very popular vegetable. Surely, we know this and we can tell that potatoes grow underground and a huge mass of potatoes is under the ground. But is a potato a root or a stem? It’s confusing, right?  

In this post, we will discuss just that, what part of the potato plant do we eat, is a potato a root or stem? I am sure after you finish this article you won’t have any confusion whatsoever. 

Is Potato A Vegetable?

Vegetables are the parts of the plants we eat, either raw or cooked. They are grouped according to the portion of the plant that we eat. this leaves a whole lot of varieties of vegetables like leafy vegetables, stem vegetables, root vegetables, and flower vegetates. 

So according to this, a potato is definitely a vegetable. Now the next question would be is it a root vegetable, stem vegetable, or fruit?

Is Potato A Fruit?

The potato is a member of the Solanaceae (nightshade) family, which includes tomato, pepper, eggplant, petunia, etc. Potato plants produce fruits, but that is not the one that we eat. 

When we mention potatoes usually we mean the potato tubers. These potato tubers are fundamentally different from potato fruits. 

A fruit forms from the flowers of a plant. Many fruits have edible portions in them that we eat. But not all fruits are edible. Potato fruits are not edible. They look like small green tomatoes and contain the true seed of the potatoes.

The portion we eat in a potato plant is the tubers. And when you ask about potatoes most often than not it is the tubers you are referring to. 

Potato tubers are not fruits. 

is potato a root

Is Potato A Root:

Potato is not a root. This is a very common mistake people make. 

In most plants, it is the root that goes under the ground and the stem stays up. Due to this common notion that anything that goes beneath the ground should be a root, people falsely think that a potato is also a root. But this is not true. 

The main purpose of the potato tubers is to give rise to new plants and not to absorb any minerals or water. You will never find any traces of roots in potato tubers like that you can see in root vegetables like carrots.

Some Common Root Vegetables:

There are endless numbers of root vegetables. Here are some of my favorite ones: 

  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Beets
  • Parsnips
  • Carrots
  • Turnips
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Radish

Is Potato A Stem:

A potato is a stem, not a root. It’s a stem that stores the energy necessary to grow. The stem in this case has swollen and moved underground. This is a perfect example of a modified stem. 

In potato plants, it is part of the stem that also grows beneath the ground just like the roots. These underground stems are also called stolons. These stolons develop potato tubers or potatoes. 

Potatoes start to develop when the plant is 6-8 inches tall. If you look closely at a potato you will see many pits. From these pits, new buds grow, and those buds will eventually give rise to new potato plants. 

What Are The Differences Between Stems And Roots:

A plant has three parts: root, stem, and leaves. The main duty of the stems and leaves is to gather energy from the sun and air for growing, flowering and propagating.

The roots, on the other hand, have two functions. One of them is to gather water and minerals from the ground. The second duty is to give physical support to the plant. 

Why Potato is A Stem:

Generally, potato plants are not grown from seeds. That’s right, Potatoes use vegetative propagation to grow and propagate. 

You can easily grow potatoes from potato tubers. All you have to do is find a couple of eyes on the potato and plant it. They will develop into fine plants and eventually produce new potato plants. 

If you don’t know anything about botany, let me tell you vegetative propagation is a characteristic of the plant stem. Roots don’t propagate vegetatively, you will never see budding in roots. 

You might also ask if the potato is a stem why not it is green in color. But remember potatoes grow underground so they don’t receive any form of sunlight. As a matter of fact, you have to make sure that potatoes remain underground during the whole potato growing season. 

But if you don’t do that and the potatoes get any form of sunlight it will behave like any normal stem and turn green. 

Green potatoes and potato leaves are toxic, never eat them.

Some Common Stem Vegetables:

Some common stem vegetables are:

  • Potatoes
  • Celery 
  • Green onions
  • Leeks
  • Rhubarb
  • Kohlrabi

So, now that you know that a potato is not a root but a stem, and what part of the potato plant do we eat your confusion should have ended. Now, it’s time to grow one.

We have a detailed post on how to grow potatoes at home from potatoes, give that a read. Trust me potato growing is easy and fun. Try it yourself.

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