What is a tuber

what is a tubercle characteristics

In our diet we introduce tubers numerous times and many people do not know it. For example, the best known tubers are the potato and the sweet potato. Some people don't know what is a tuber and how it differs from other types of organs.

In this article we are going to tell you what a tuber is, its characteristics, origin and importance.

What is a tuber

what is a tubercle

Tubers are underground storage organs found in certain plants. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, cassava, carrots, and radishes are good examples of root vegetables that we often eat in our diet.

Plants, like us, have different organs to perform different basic life functions. Plant organs are divided into two parts, one is above ground and the other is underground. The leaves, stems, thorns, fruits and flowers are usually aerial organs involved in processes such as structure, photosynthesis (the plant feeds on sunlight and atmospheric carbon dioxide), reproduction and plant defense against the Predators.

Roots, rhizomes, bulbs, and tubers are the underground organs of plants. that is, they grow underground and are responsible for important functions such as obtaining water and mineral nutrients, supporting or anchoring the plant. In the soil, from energy storage in the form of sugars, from vegetative reproduction, etc.

Tubers are underground organs that function especially in the storage of carbohydrates such as starch. Historically, these plant organs have been an important source of food for humans, since they normally They provide 80% of the total calories we need each day to maintain a healthy life.

There are many types of root vegetables in nature, but potatoes, sweet potatoes and carrots are the most popular and consumed in the world.

Key features

types of tubers

Let's see the main characteristics of tubers:

  • They are the underground organs or structures of plants.
  • Its main function is to store carbohydrates (carbohydrates, sugars).
  • They can be modified stems or roots, “bloated”, specifically for storage.
  • They are found in almost every ecosystem on Earth.
  • They consist of a special type of plant tissue (parenchyma) whose cells store large amounts of water and carbohydrates in the form of starch.
  • For some plants, they are reproductive or vegetative structures.
  • For others, on the other hand, they are resistance structures in seasons such as winter.
  • They are an important source of food for different animal species, including humans.

Types of tubers

Jerusalem artichoke

Although the tubers are always underground, they can be divided into two types: one is the stem and the other is the root.

Stem tubers

The tubers are actually modified stems that grow underground and swell, specializing in storing energy in the form of starch. They are close to the earth's surface where they can grow horizontally and cover large areas; stems and leaves can be formed from these roots.

The most characteristic elements of these tubers are the growth nodes, also known as "eyes", from which new plants can grow. Examples of stem tubers, also called "true tubers", are the potato or potato -which we eat- and the dahlia, an ornamental plant.

root tubers

Root tubers are modified roots that are visibly thicker and have a storage function. They usually grow vertically towards the ground and often they fail to form new plants like many tubers.

They are very compact and typical examples of these tubers are carrots and cassava, known in some places as cassava or cassava.

Examples of tubers


It is a plant closely related to other well-known species such as tomato and eggplant. It produces tubers of different shapes, rich in starch. Although it is native to the American Andes, It is a highly consumed species throughout the world.. It is usually cooked and eaten.

French Fries

It is a plant that produces thin tubers that when cooked have a texture similar to potato, but with a very specific sweet flavor. It is also native to the American continent and is very popular all over the world. As usual, it is cooked and eaten.


It is a thin, edible root, usually orange in color, rich in vitamin C. It is native to "Eurasia" and is also a tuber eaten worldwide. It can be eaten raw or cooked in different ways.


It is a plant that produces tuberous roots of variable size, with a thick outer cover and a center that is usually white or yellow, depending on the variety. It is native to tropical America and is rich in starch.. It is eaten cooked and its starch is used in different preparations.


It is a well-known plant species that produces showy, large, brightly colored flowers. Originally from the Iberian Peninsula, produces tubers that can reproduce vegetatively.


It is a plant that produces fleshy tubers with a rounded appearance and characterized by its intense purple color and sweetish smell. Depending on the variety, both the leaves and the tubers (raw or cooked) are edible. It is a very important species because one of its varieties is used for sugar.


It is also known as white radish and is native to the Asian continent. Its consumption is popular in almost the entire world, where it is usually eaten raw and its young leaves are used in salads.


It is a relatively fast-growing plant that produces red, slightly pungent, low-starch root tubers. They are usually eaten raw.


They represent a group of plants native to Central America that they are popular in the floral industry for their beautiful flowers. They produce tubers that are commonly used to propagate them.


It is a root vegetable native to the American Andes that is rich in carbohydrates. Also known as white carrot, its high starch content makes it a common ingredient in soups, purees, and other culinary preparations.

As you can see, there are a large number of tubers apart from those commonly known. I hope that with this information you can learn more about what a tuber is, its characteristics, types, importance and examples.

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