Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Rooting Around in the Spring

Weeding...that dreaded ugly activity that some put off until the weeds are beginning to take over.  Some who love the earth less than the rest of us will use a toxic chemical that can wend its way through the earth into rivers, streams and aquifers, a process that requires money but little physical effort on their part.  Some, like me, find weeding therapeutic and try to do it right after a heavy rain and before seed heads form.  We love that neat and tidy look at the end of a back braking afternoon and are in an 'other' category.

While visiting the National Botanic Gardens in D.C. the other weekend we stumbled across a really cool display about roots.  Roots that feed weeds and non-weeds both of which are hard to define.

Roots that grow above and below ground.  Roots that are attached to the mother plant and others that attach to corms and tubers.

Then we came upon a really cool display of various grasses and their roots.

It was as if someone had cut through the middle of a prairie to show us that secret underground.  Look at the mass and length of this food/water transportation system.  You should also realize that some roots send out chemicals to deter different plant species or attract younger of the same plant species!  Some of which were so long they had to have their toes tied up!

Now when you are pulling your little garden weeds that may reach only a few inches below the surface of the earth, remember this scientist below...

and rest on your laurels.


  1. Weeding was what my mom had me do when ever I was "bored." I was not bored often.

  2. We just have lawm because i wouldn't know a weed from a flower unless someone showed me every time.

    And there's too much clover to pull up, so it just gets mowed with the grass.

  3. How fascinating! I never really thought of the roots of common grass. I know that stinging nettle roots here can be very complex and much more extensive than anyone would guess.

  4. I saw this display when I was in 4H and toured the Ag dept at the university. It's amazing.

  5. Amazing root systems! I remember when I first learned that the Marram Grass that grows on sand dunes and helps prevent erosion wasn't just growing on the surface. The entire dune was filled with a network of roots like those you showed here. No wonder they control erosion!

  6. Great display. That's what kept our prairies in place until we plowed them and created the dust bowl.

  7. Cool pics n root systems. I like the grass display.
    I got a Bleeding Heart root planted 2 years ago. It said bury 10 to 12 inches down. I put it in the new side garden, n still haven't seen it get to the surface.
    Weeding roots out here needs a sifter. None to do yet here!


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