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Rhizomes: Definition & Examples

Rhizomes: Definition & Examples
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  • 0:00 What are Rhizomes?
  • 0:33 Plants with Rhizome Systems
  • 1:10 Examples and Uses
  • 1:38 Nuisance Rhizomes
  • 2:18 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Danielle Haak

Danielle has a PhD in Natural Resource Sciences and a MSc in Biological Sciences

Have you ever eaten a rhizome? Would you know if you had? In this lesson, learn more about what rhizomes are. You will also discover which common plants have rhizomes.

What Are Rhizomes?

Rhizomes are networks of plant roots that live under the surface of the ground; they're also known as creeping rootstock. Typically, rhizomes grow horizontally rather than vertically, extending sideways 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. Rhizomes often give the plant a higher chance of surviving in tough environmental conditions. In many plants, even a single section of the rhizomes is enough for a new plant to grow.

Plants with Rhizome Systems

Plants that have rhizomes include poplars, bamboos, ginger, turmeric, lotus, and many types of ferns. Irises are also part of the rhizome family. Some of these rhizomes are edible and sought out as a delicacy. Rhizome soup, anyone? In fact, the part of ginger used in tea and cooking is a plant rhizome. Foods such as potatoes are actually swollen ends of the plant's rhizome system. So you're probably more familiar with rhizomes than you thought!

Take a look at the following pictures to get an idea of what rhizomes actually look like.

Examples and Uses

Some rhizomes are coveted for their medicinal properties and may be steeped as teas that release their curative properties. Ginger rhizomes may cure indigestion or aid in food preservation. In the United States, ginger ale is a common remedy for an upset stomach. Similar to ginger, galangal is also used to treat diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting. Other helpful rhizomes include aloe, black cohosh, and peppermint.

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