20 June 2016

Shallow roots

A striking visual reminder that the roots of trees do not extend deeply into the earth.  Cartoons and illustrations of trees often portray the root system as a mirror image of the above-ground branches.  Some species in arid climates can send down deep tap roots, but for the most part tree roots spread horizontally to harvest precious rainfall and inhibit competitiors. 

Photo from the Photoshopbattles subreddit, where one entry depicts the hardwood under the carpet.


  1. I've been given to understand that the root system mirrors the canopy in extent. This allows the tree to direct all (most of) the rain falling on it and the nutrients in its fallen leaves to its own roots.

  2. some trees have tap roots and other don't. i guess that one don't. you can google as to which does and which daint.


  3. That condition may also have been caused by the type of soil? It looks like might be hard pack six or eight inches down. In that case, the tree does not have a chance to send out a tap root which helps to anchor the tree.

    The humorous part is how the grass has grown to form a compact carpet. :-)

  4. My guess is this shows the effect of laying sod over bad bad soil.
    I recommend everyone in the neighborhood plow, amend, till and PLANT new grass.

  5. But what do the letters on the, ha, letterbox spell ?
    It is not a 7 year old Asian girl trapped in a sweat shop saying 'help me', but …well…
    Best I could make out was HELC*ME, with the asterisk denoting a star.
    But maybe my pixel divining is sub standard and it does say 'help star me'.
    Perhaps more coffee.

    1. You're welcome to do so if you wish...

    2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    3. Anon, a simple comment that it reads "welcome" would have been sufficient. No need to castigate the other reader.

  6. This is what you get when you water a tree in your yard. This condition is especially common in yards with underground sprinkler systems. The roots go to where the water which is along the surface. There is no need for the tree to put down a long tap root because it gets enough water from its surface roots.


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