Roots and Rhizomes

Good strong rhizomes

The rhizome root system of Euphorbia rhizophora
The rhizome root system of Euphorbia rhizophora | Source

Notes from a Lancashire Countryman

How many gardeners have become frustrated by attempts to pull up a dandelion from their lawn or from cracks between paving stones or on the driveway, only for them to reappear again after a few days?

In many of my previous articles I have introduced several wild flowers and some garden flowers, hopefully passing on my knowledge of them including their uses and how to identify them. In this series of articles I will share my knowledge of how the plants live and thrive,starting with the root system.

It is my intention to keep the text as simple as possible in the hope it will be of interest and not bogged down in technical jargon or botanical terminology.

root systems
root systems

What Is a Root?

Upon germination of the seed the embryo root, termed as radicle,grows and develops into the first true root. This first root may grow on to develop into a taproot with many branching lateral roots, or it may develop into adventitious roots. It mat also develop into fibrous which are very fine and completely opposite in composition than taproot.


There are aerial roots that grow above the ground. Tuberous roots that are thick and relatively soft, with storage facilities, typically thick and roundish in form such as the potato. There are corms, bulbs, rhizomes, stolons to name but a few types of root system.

The first under review in this article is the taproot. referring back to my opening paragraph, the frustration is due to the dandelion having such a root system. Tap roots grow straight down vertically an organism from which other lateral roots grow out into the soil. on e of the main sources of the gardeners frustration is the ability of a damaged tap root to regenerate new growth at the point where they have been broken off. Away from out neatly manicured lawns and pristine drive ways it is the natural way for the species to survive.

They are typically wide at the top tapering at the bottom as in the dandelion. others are known as Fusiform, this type being widest at their middle and tapering at the top and bottom. Another form is like the shape of a spinning top wide at the top then suddenly tapering at the bottom, an example of this "Napiform" is the turnip.

Many plants have tap roots these include Burdock and goat'sbeard and garden vegetables such as parsnip and carrot. of course many of the taproots are edible as the last two named suggests. nearly all species of seed plants begin their life with a tap root. However, most tap roots die off or the growth is diminished and replaced by spreading lateral roots that stretch out into the soil.

Illustration including roots.

Dandelions are notorious for having tap roots that regenerate themselves.
Dandelions are notorious for having tap roots that regenerate themselves.
The large foliage of the Burdock arises from a tap root system
The large foliage of the Burdock arises from a tap root system | Source

RHIZOMES

Rhizomes are thick, mainly underground, structures, of familiar plants such as mint and iris, whose buds develop into new growth. the word rhizome derives from the Greek rhza meaning a root or rhizoma indicating a mass of roots. they are often referred to as rootstock, or creeping rootstock.

In general rhizomes have short internodes { the part in between nodes} They generate new shoots from the nodes. Roots form from beneath the nodes and while shoots arise from the top, thus vegetative reproduction begins. Some species have rhizome that appears just above the soil, species such as iris, geum and many ferns.

As with the tap root any part of the rhizome that has been left in the ground will regenerate mew growth. Thus plants that are not wanted in the garden or allotment, such as the rosebay willow herb, the whole rhizome must be dug up to prevent vegetative regeneration.

Geum have rhizomes

GEUM LIKE THIS ORANGE SPECIES HAVE RHIZOMES THAT  OFTEN APPEAR ABOVE THE GROUND.
GEUM LIKE THIS ORANGE SPECIES HAVE RHIZOMES THAT OFTEN APPEAR ABOVE THE GROUND. | Source
FERNS OFTEN HAVE VISIBLE RHIZOMES
FERNS OFTEN HAVE VISIBLE RHIZOMES | Source
GARDEN IRIS ALSO HAVE RHIZOMES.
GARDEN IRIS ALSO HAVE RHIZOMES. | Source

How Does the Root Work?

The root is the main organism that takes up water and liquid nutrients {for example plant food} from the soil that sustains most seed plants and ferns. It is also capable of storing reserves. The root has another important function, that of anchoring the plant into its growing medium, ie, soil, clay compost etc.

As we have seen most roots grow below ground level and is, therefore, an extension of the above ground growth. Roots also help to prevent soil erosion. A root has three layers which are as follows

The Epidermis-from the Greek epi-meaning upon, above, or over, + derma -skin. It is the outermost layer and acts as a protective covering. It is sometimes referred to as the cuticle.

Cortex-- This layer is a practical storage area for food and water, air spaces and the endodermis { from the Greek endo, meaning within +derma meaning skin. The endo dermis is the inner boundary of the cortex which controls the passage of water and liquid nutrients.

Vascular Area---is the inner most area of the root contains vascular tissue which is composed of two types of cells Xylem cells and Phloem cells. Xylem cells { from the Greek Xulon meaning wood} transport the water and other liquid nutrients to the stems and other parts of the plant. Phloem {from the Greek phloos meaning bark} cells carry the food from the stem to the root.

The pericycle is a single layer of cells surrounding the vascular tissue. branch roots grow from the pericycle.

Goatsbeard and other species

GOATS BEARD FOLIAGE ARISES FROM A TAP ROOT
GOATS BEARD FOLIAGE ARISES FROM A TAP ROOT | Source
DAFFODILS SHOOT FROM BULBS
DAFFODILS SHOOT FROM BULBS | Source
BUGLE SPREADS BY MEANS OF STOLONS
BUGLE SPREADS BY MEANS OF STOLONS | Source
ROSE BAY WILLOW HERB HAS RHIZOMES.
ROSE BAY WILLOW HERB HAS RHIZOMES. | Source
CROCUS ARISE FROM CORMS
CROCUS ARISE FROM CORMS | Source

Many plants such as strawberries, creeping buttercup and bugle have stolons , or runners, which spread out along the soil away from the parent plant. These stolons are capable of rooting themselves at intervals along their length. Once rooted new growth occurs and it is an efficient means of establishing new growth away from the parent plant. In the case of the creeping buttercup it can cause some consternation has it spreads by this means across neatly grassed areas. In the case of the bugle and others of its ilk it is an excellent ground cover species that allows large areas to become covered by its beautiful spikes from just a few plants being originally planted.

In the next article in this series I will be looking at leaves. There are many forms and uses. I will be looking at the function of the leaf in the well being of the plant

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Comments 7 comments

D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 5 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

Thank you to everyone who have taken the time to comment on ROOTS AND RHIZOMES, They are much appreciated.


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 5 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

Hi kimh039, nice to meet you, thank you so much for your appreciated comments and for taking the time to leave them. Best wishes to you.


kimh039 profile image

kimh039 5 years ago

DAL. Your passion for Botany comes through in this hub. Thanks for keeping it simple for me though! My husband is passionate about gardening, and I try to learn a little here and though, but have not been able to muster up a passion! This was a well written hub with amazing pictures. Thank you.


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 5 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

Darski, than you for your warm and appreciated comments. Some weeds are a challenge as you say, but how else would they survive as a species? Glad you joined me once again Love and best wishes to you.


Darlene Sabella profile image

Darlene Sabella 5 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

When I saw those long roots in your diagram I wanted to scream, I could see those as the weeds I try to pull and I never win! Really this is an awesome hub, the photos are breathtaking and I adore your hubs. Thank you for another cool walk with you through this wonderland of a green world, I always love our walks and talks. Rate up love darski


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 5 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

libby101a, thank you for being the first to comment, it is appreciated.


libby101a profile image

libby101a 5 years ago from KY

Good information! Voting up!

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