Monocots vs Dicots: What You Need To Know

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Plants can be separated into two distinct categories: monocots and dicots. A Maple tree is an example of a dicot whereas turf is an example of a monocot. What makes the two types different and why is it important to understand which is which?


Monocot vs. Dicot

Monocots differ from dicots in four distinct structural features: leaves, stems, roots and flowers. 

But, the differences start from the very beginning of the plant's life cycle: the seed. Within the seed lies the plant's embryo. Whereas monocots have one cotyledon (vein), dicots have two. This small difference at the very start of the plant's life cycle leads each plant to develop vast differences. 


Roots: Fibrous vs. taproot

Once the embryo begins to grow its roots, another structural difference occurs.

Monocots tend to have “fibrous roots” that web off in many directions. These fibrous roots occupy the upper level of the soil in comparison to dicot root structures that dig deeper and create thicker systems.

Dicot roots also contain one main root called the taproot, where other, smaller roots branch off. 

Despite the type of plant, roots are essential to the plant’s growth and survival, therefore encouraging a deeper and more extensive root system that can help increase the health of the plant.


Stems: Arranging the vascular tissue

As the monocots develop, the stem arranges the vascular tissue (the circulatory system of the plant) sporadically. This is extremely unique compared to dicots’ organized fashion that arranges the tissue into a donut-looking structure (see figure).

The way a stem develops is important to note. Stems are in charge of supporting the entire plant and help position it to reach as much sunlight as possible. The vascular tissue within the stem can be thought of as a circulatory system for bringing nutrients to each portion of the plant.


Leaves: Parallel veins vs. branching veins

Both monocots and dicots form different leaves. Monocot leaves are characterized by their parallel veins, while dicots form “branching veins.”

Leaves are another important structure of the plant because they are in charge of feeding the plant and carrying out the process of photosynthesis.


Flowers: How many flower petals does your plant have?

The last distinct difference between monocots and dicots are their flowers (if present).  Monocot flowers usually form in threes whereas dicot flowers occur in groups of four or five.


What Does This Mean for You?

Understanding which kind of plant you are treating is enormously beneficial for both lawn care companies and their clients.

As we discussed in a former blog entry, different herbicides react with different kinds of plants. Spraying a herbicide designed for a monocot on a dicot won’t help kill off a weed.

Also, as we begin to understand the different structures of the plants we are treating, we can better nourish and grow them. Choosing a product that will help develop a strong, thick root system will help the plant grow and better resist damage due to weather stress, disease, insect and traffic. 

Holganix Bio 800+ products contain over 800 soil microbes. Several of these microbes are focused on building thick, web-like root systems for the plant. These soil microbes include but are not limited to: Endo and Ecto Mycorrhizae and Trichoderma fungi


Works Cited

Phelan, Jay. What Is Life? A Guide to Biology with Physiology. New York: W.H. Freeman Custom Publishing, 2011. Print.


Posted by Kaitlyn Ersek on Sep 14, 2012 10:09:00 AM

Kaitlyn Ersek

Topics: lawn care, sports turf, golf course, agriculture

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