Typically, the rhizomes grow horizontally rather than vertically, extending laterally from the main root of the plant. This is the part of the plant where starches, proteins, and other nutrients are stored for later use.
What is a rhizome?
A rhizome is a type of plant stem that contains nodes from which roots and shoots originate. Rhizomes are unique in that they grow perpendicular, allowing new shoots to grow out of the ground. When separated, each piece of a rhizome is capable of producing a new plant.
Rhizomes often give the plant a greater chance of surviving in harsh environmental conditions.
The main function of the rhizome is the storage of nutrients, including carbohydrates and proteins, until the plant requires them for the growth of new shoots or to survive the winter in a process called vegetative reproduction.
Farmers use vegetative propagation to laterally propagate plants such as hops, ginger, and various species of grasses. Some rhizomes are also eaten or used as a condiment, such as ginger and the very famous turmeric.
20 examples of rhizomes and uses
Some rhizomes are coveted for their medicinal properties and can be steeped as tea that release their healing properties.
Ginger rhizomes can cure indigestion or help preserve food. In the United States, ginger ale is a common remedy for an upset stomach. Like ginger, galangal is also used to treat diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting.
Other useful rhizomes include aloe, black cohosh, and peppermint.
The most dominant type of rhizome is the underground rhizome; It is located underground and includes ginger, hops, poison oak, grass species, and bamboo. Many of these plants have rhizomes that humans consume (for example, ginger).
Rhizomes above ground
While most rhizomes are found underground, some plants have rhizomes that grow at or above ground level. Examples of these plant species include ferns and irises.
Most rhizomes occur as a single layer from which shoots and roots originate. However, there are some plant species that form multiple layers in a complex network (for example, the giant horsetail rhizomes).
Anyway, the following are the most common rhizomes:
- Ginger ale
- Black cohosh
- Poison oak
- Giant ponytail
- Cane from the Indies
- Solomon’s Seal
- The irises
- Some types of ferns
Plants with rhizome systems
There are two main types of rhizomes:
Leptomorphs produce indeterminate stems that continue to develop new plants at each node. Leptomorphic stems tend to have long internodes and lateral shoots at each node that can remain dormant or produce new shoots.
Pachymorphs produce large, slow-growing horizontal stems that are determined and terminate in a flowering stem. pachymorphic rhizomes are determining structures that end each season’s growth with a flower bud, while vegetative growth continues on the lateral buds.
Some of these rhizomes are edible and are sought after as a delicacy. In fact, the part of ginger used in tea and cooking is a plant rhizome. Foods like potatoes are actually inflamed ends of the plant’s rhizome system.