The region of maturation is sometimes also called the region of differentiation or root-hair zone. In this region, cells mature into the various types of primary tissues. Recall that root hairs are extensions of the epidermis that serve to increase surface area and aid in the absorption of water and soil nutrients. If the region of maturation is examined carefully, it would be noted that the cuticle is very thin on the root hairs and epidermal cells of roots. It is understood that any significant amount of fatty substance would interfere with the ability to absorb water, as fats are hydrophobic—or water-repelling. A root in cross-section would have an epidermis, cortex, endodermis, xylem, phloem, and a pericycle. The cortex is the tissue at the immediate inside of the epidermis that functions in storing food. Generally, the cortex is many cells thick and similar to the cortex of stems, with the exception of the presence of a root endodermis at the inner boundary. In stems, an endodermis is quite rare, while in roots only three species of plants are known to lack a root endodermis. The endodermis is a cylinder formed by a single layer of tightly arranged cells. The primary walls of these cells contain suberin. The waterproof suberin forms bands, called Casparian strips, around the cell walls perpendicular to the root’s surface. The barrier that is formed forces all water and dissolved substances entering and leaving the central tissue core to pass through the plasma membrane or their plasmodesmata. This entire structure serves to regulate the types of minerals absorbed and transported by the root to the stems.
Next to the inside of the endodermis is a cylinder of parenchyma cells called the pericycle. The pericycle is generally one cell wide, however, it can extend for several cells depending on the plant. It is a vital tissue, as the pericycle is the point of origin for the lateral branch roots, and if it is a dicot, part of the vascular cambium. The cells in the pericycle retain their ability to divide even after they have matured. Primary xylem, which contains water-conducting cells, forms at the core of the root and may or may not have observable ‘branches’ which extend like an ‘x’ to the pericycle. The primary phloem, which contains the food conducting cells, fills in the spaces between the branches of xylem. Any branch roots will usually arise in the pericycle opposite the xylem branches.