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Rhizome

Rhizome

Overview

In botany
Botany
Botany, plant science, or plant biology is a branch of biology that involves the scientific study of plant life. Traditionally, botany also included the study of fungi, algae and viruses...

 and dendrology
Dendrology
Dendrology or xylology is the science and study of wooded plants . There is no sharp boundary between plant taxonomy and dendrology. However, woody plants not only belong to many different plant families, but these families may be made up of both woody and non-woody members. Some families include...

, a rhizome (from "mass of roots", from "cause to strike root") is a characteristically horizontal stem
Plant stem
A stem is one of two main structural axes of a vascular plant. The stem is normally divided into nodes and internodes, the nodes hold buds which grow into one or more leaves, inflorescence , conifer cones, roots, other stems etc. The internodes distance one node from another...

 of a plant
Plant
Plants are living organisms belonging to the kingdom Plantae. Precise definitions of the kingdom vary, but as the term is used here, plants include familiar organisms such as trees, flowers, herbs, bushes, grasses, vines, ferns, mosses, and green algae. The group is also called green plants or...

 that is usually found underground, often sending out root
Root
In vascular plants, the root is the organ of a plant that typically lies below the surface of the soil. This is not always the case, however, since a root can also be aerial or aerating . Furthermore, a stem normally occurring below ground is not exceptional either...

s and shoot
Shoot
Shoots are new plant growth, they can include stems, flowering stems with flower buds, and leaves. The new growth from seed germination that grows upward is a shoot where leaves will develop...

s from its nodes. Rhizomes may also be referred to as creeping rootstalks or rootstocks.

If a rhizome is separated into pieces, each piece may be able to give rise to a new plant.
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In botany
Botany
Botany, plant science, or plant biology is a branch of biology that involves the scientific study of plant life. Traditionally, botany also included the study of fungi, algae and viruses...

 and dendrology
Dendrology
Dendrology or xylology is the science and study of wooded plants . There is no sharp boundary between plant taxonomy and dendrology. However, woody plants not only belong to many different plant families, but these families may be made up of both woody and non-woody members. Some families include...

, a rhizome (from "mass of roots", from "cause to strike root") is a characteristically horizontal stem
Plant stem
A stem is one of two main structural axes of a vascular plant. The stem is normally divided into nodes and internodes, the nodes hold buds which grow into one or more leaves, inflorescence , conifer cones, roots, other stems etc. The internodes distance one node from another...

 of a plant
Plant
Plants are living organisms belonging to the kingdom Plantae. Precise definitions of the kingdom vary, but as the term is used here, plants include familiar organisms such as trees, flowers, herbs, bushes, grasses, vines, ferns, mosses, and green algae. The group is also called green plants or...

 that is usually found underground, often sending out root
Root
In vascular plants, the root is the organ of a plant that typically lies below the surface of the soil. This is not always the case, however, since a root can also be aerial or aerating . Furthermore, a stem normally occurring below ground is not exceptional either...

s and shoot
Shoot
Shoots are new plant growth, they can include stems, flowering stems with flower buds, and leaves. The new growth from seed germination that grows upward is a shoot where leaves will develop...

s from its nodes. Rhizomes may also be referred to as creeping rootstalks or rootstocks.

If a rhizome is separated into pieces, each piece may be able to give rise to a new plant. This is a process known as vegetative reproduction
Vegetative reproduction
Vegetative reproduction is a form of asexual reproduction in plants. It is a process by which new individuals arise without production of seeds or spores...

 and is used by farmers and gardeners to propagate certain plants. Examples of plants that are propagated this way include hops
Hops
Hops are the female flower clusters , of a hop species, Humulus lupulus. They are used primarily as a flavoring and stability agent in beer, to which they impart a bitter, tangy flavor, though hops are also used for various purposes in other beverages and herbal medicine...

, asparagus
Asparagus
Asparagus officinalis is a spring vegetable, a flowering perennialplant species in the genus Asparagus. It was once classified in the lily family, like its Allium cousins, onions and garlic, but the Liliaceae have been split and the onion-like plants are now in the family Amaryllidaceae and...

, ginger
Ginger
Ginger is the rhizome of the plant Zingiber officinale, consumed as a delicacy, medicine, or spice. It lends its name to its genus and family . Other notable members of this plant family are turmeric, cardamom, and galangal....

, iris
Iris (plant)
Iris is a genus of 260-300species of flowering plants with showy flowers. It takes its name from the Greek word for a rainbow, referring to the wide variety of flower colors found among the many species...

es, Lily of the Valley
Lily of the Valley
Convallaria majalis , commonly known as the lily-of-the-valley, is a poisonous woodland flowering plant native throughout the cool temperate Northern Hemisphere in Asia and Europe....

, Cannas
Canna (plant)
Canna is a genus of nineteen species of flowering plants. The closest living relations to cannas are the other plant families of the order Zingiberales, that is the gingers, bananas, marantas, heliconias, strelitzias, etc.Canna is the only genus in the family Cannaceae...

, and sympodial
Sympodial
Sympodial means "with conjoined feet", and in biology is often used to refer to the outward morphology or mode of growth of organisms.-In botany:...

 orchids. Some examples of rhizomes that are used directly in cooking are ginger
Ginger
Ginger is the rhizome of the plant Zingiber officinale, consumed as a delicacy, medicine, or spice. It lends its name to its genus and family . Other notable members of this plant family are turmeric, cardamom, and galangal....

, turmeric
Turmeric
Turmeric is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant of the ginger family, Zingiberaceae. It is native to tropical South Asia and needs temperatures between 20 °C and 30 °C and a considerable amount of annual rainfall to thrive...

, galangal
Galangal
Galangal is a rhizome of plants of the genus Alpinia or Kaempferia in the ginger family Zingiberaceae, with culinary and medicinal uses originated from Indonesia...

, and fingerroot.

The Quaking Aspen
Populus tremuloides
Populus tremuloides is a deciduous tree native to cooler areas of North America, commonly called quaking aspen, trembling aspen, American aspen, and Quakies,. The trees have tall trunks, up to 25 metres, with smooth pale bark, scarred with black. The glossy green leaves, dull beneath, become golden...

 (Populus tremuloides) is an example of a tree that propagates using a rhizome. Aspen clonal colonies in the American West, such as the large Pando
Pando (tree)
Pando is a clonal colony of a single male Quaking Aspen located in the U.S. state of Utah, all determined to be part of a single living organism by identical genetic markers and one massive underground root system, although whether it is a single tree is disputed...

 colony in Utah, may have been living for over 1 million years. The rhizome of an aspen colony is the key to its longevity. Foragers, insects, fungus, and forest fires may destroy the above-ground portion of the tree, but the underground rhizome is somewhat protected against these threats.

A stolon
Stolon
In biology, stolons are horizontal connections between organisms. They may be part of the organism, or of its skeleton; typically, animal stolons are external skeletons.-In botany:...

 is similar to a rhizome, but, unlike a rhizome, which is the main stem of the plant, a stolon sprouts from an existing stem, has long internodes, and generates new shoots at the end, such as in the strawberry
Strawberry
Fragaria is a genus of flowering plants in the rose family, Rosaceae, commonly known as strawberries for their edible fruits. Although it is commonly thought that strawberries get their name from straw being used as a mulch in cultivating the plants, the etymology of the word is uncertain. There...

 plant. In general, rhizomes have short internodes; they send out roots from the bottom of the nodes and new upward-growing shoots from the top of the nodes. It is a method of reproduction for plants. A stem tuber
Tuber
Tubers are various types of modified plant structures that are enlarged to store nutrients. They are used by plants to survive the winter or dry months and provide energy and nutrients for regrowth during the next growing season and they are a means of asexual reproduction...

 is a thickened part of a rhizome or stolon
Stolon
In biology, stolons are horizontal connections between organisms. They may be part of the organism, or of its skeleton; typically, animal stolons are external skeletons.-In botany:...

 that has been enlarged for use as a storage organ
Storage organ
A storage organ is a part of a plant specifically modified for storage of energy or water. Storage organs often grow underground, where they are better protected from attack by herbivores. Plants that have an underground storage organ are called geophytes in the Raunkiær plant life-form...

. In general, a tuber is high in starch
Starch
Starch or amylum is a carbohydrate consisting of a large number of glucose units joined together by glycosidic bonds. This polysaccharide is produced by all green plants as an energy store...

, for example, the common potato
Potato
The potato is a starchy, tuberous crop from the perennial Solanum tuberosum of the Solanaceae family . The word potato may refer to the plant itself as well as the edible tuber. In the region of the Andes, there are some other closely related cultivated potato species...

, which is a modified stolon. The term tuber is often used imprecisely, and is sometimes applied to plants with rhizomes.

Some plants have rhizomes that grow above ground or that lie at the soil surface, including some Iris
Iris (plant)
Iris is a genus of 260-300species of flowering plants with showy flowers. It takes its name from the Greek word for a rainbow, referring to the wide variety of flower colors found among the many species...

species, and fern
Fern
A fern is any one of a group of about 12,000 species of plants belonging to the botanical group known as Pteridophyta. Unlike mosses, they have xylem and phloem . They have stems, leaves, and roots like other vascular plants...

s, whose spreading stems are rhizomes. Plants with underground rhizomes include ginger
Zingiberaceae
Zingiberaceae, or the Ginger family, is a family of flowering plants consisting of aromatic perennial herbs with creeping horizontal or tuberous rhizomes, comprising ca. 52 genera and more than 1300 species, distributed throughout tropical Africa, Asia, and the Americas.Many species are important...

s, bamboo
Bamboo
Bamboo is a group of perennial evergreens in the true grass family Poaceae, subfamily Bambusoideae, tribe Bambuseae. Giant bamboos are the largest members of the grass family....

, the Venus Flytrap
Venus Flytrap
The Venus Flytrap , Dionaea muscipula, is a carnivorous plant that catches and digests animal prey—mostly insects and arachnids. Its trapping structure is formed by the terminal portion of each of the plant's leaves and is triggered by tiny hairs on their inner surfaces...

, Chinese lantern
Physalis alkekengi
Physalis alkekengi , is a relative of P. peruviana , easily identifiable by the larger, bright orange to red papery covering over its fruit, which resemble Chinese lanterns. It is native from southern Europe east across southern Asia to Japan...

, Western poison-oak
Western Poison-oak
Toxicodendron diversilobum, western poison oak or Pacific poison-oak is in the Anacardiaceae family and is a plant best known for its ability to cause allergic rashes after contact...

, hops
Hops
Hops are the female flower clusters , of a hop species, Humulus lupulus. They are used primarily as a flavoring and stability agent in beer, to which they impart a bitter, tangy flavor, though hops are also used for various purposes in other beverages and herbal medicine...

, and Alstroemeria
Alstroemeria
Alstroemeria , commonly called the Peruvian Lily or Lily of the Incas, is a South American genus of about 120 species of flowering plants. Almost all of the species are restricted to one of two distinct centers of diversity, one in central Chile, the other in eastern Brazil...

, and the weeds Johnson grass
Johnson grass
Sorghum halepense, commonly called Johnsongrass, is a plant in the grass family, Poaceae, native to the Mediterranean region, but growing throughout Europe and the Middle East. The plant has been introduced to all continents except Antarctica and most larger islands and archipelagos...

, bermuda grass, and purple nut sedge
Cyperus rotundus
Cyperus rotundus is a species of sedge native to Africa, southern and central Europe , and southern Asia. The word cyperus derives from the Greek "κύπερος" and rotundus is from Latin, meaning "round"...

. Rhizomes generally form a single layer, but in Giant Horsetails, can be multi-tiered.