Putting Down Roots

September 15, 2017

By: Barb Holtz

My husband was an Air Force kid so he moved a lot as a child. He has wonderful memories of each base and especially living overseas. But each move meant pulling up roots, deep and shallow. Leaving new friends that didn't have time to become old friends. Roots are important. They ground us to people and places, memories and traditions. Humans are lucky. We can pick up and go if our placement doesn't suit our needs or wants. Plants, not so much.

Seed can travel but once sprouted, the commitment has been made. Putting down roots isn't the sexy part of plantdom. It's much like waterproofing your basement. Important for a dry, secure foundation but expensive and unseen. A kitchen redo? Definitely a sexy home improvement. Roots make the sexy possible for plants. Native plants have been around the northeast Ohio block and well aware of what's ahead of them - clay, drought, snow, grazing. Roots first, stem and leaf second, and then...wait for it...flower finale!

Roots are not simple structures. They reach for water and soil nutrients to sustain about ground growth. Above ground growth sustains roots via photosynthesis, feeding sugars for energy as well as storage during dormancy. But roots have to anchor before substansial leaves even unfurl. They begin off a determinate amount of stored energy from seed leaves or cotyledons. Once main roots establish, tiny root hairs do the bulk of absorption labor. Small but mighty, they have a relationship with an entire microcosm we only walk upon. Soil is living and roots call it home.

Maybe humans aren't lucky because we can move as we please. Maybe if we were tied to a place because we had to stay, we would put more effort into said place. So many lessons offered by nature to ponder. Roots are important. Roots take time. Roots are a part of a diverse whole. Roots are life.