Big Bluestem roots

Good deep roots make a difference. The photo to the right is from the University of Wisconsin Arboretum, and it shows how deep and strong and tangled the roots of the prairie bluestem are. It’s impressive how robust prairie ecosystems are, and we rip them up and replace them with Kentucky Bluegrass, which has the most pathetic shallow mat of a root system. See?

My mother is in the hospital right now — she’s been declining for years, but she keeps bouncing back because she has deep strong roots. I’ve taken her for granted for my entire life, because she always perseveres. I’m hoping she pulls through this time, too.


  1. StevoR says

    ^ Seconded 100%.

    Best wishes to her PZ and yes. Amazing monocotyledon roots there.

    Andropogon hallii ( I presume?

    When you think about how hard soil can get, (esp here in South Oz in Summer) and how roots can push their way thrugh them and the sort of environments trees and grases and plants geenrally can manage to grow in and into and all that. Yes. Toughness indeed.


  2. Rob Grigjanis says

    All the best. My mum’s been declining too, but I’m laying odds she’ll see me out. Tough old broad. Latvian peasants, my lot. But the men don’t seem to have quite the staying power.

  3. René says

    I second (3rd, 4th, …, nth) all of the above wishes for a healthy recovery of your mum, PZ (n = 9 at the time I respond). Having said that, I just noted that my mum died one week before you were born. (I’m going to get EMDR for that trauma in the coming week — very skeptic about its effectiveness.)
    Send my love to your mum.

  4. bodach says

    Best wishes for your mom. I sat behind her (& your sister?) in Seattle years ago. She seemed lovely and was very proud of you.

  5. weylguy says

    According to Ken Burns in his 2012 documentary The Dust Bowl, the massive plowing-up of the Great Plains’ deep-rooted buffalo grass resulted in America’s decade-long ecological disaster of the same name. Now mega-agricultural firms in the same region are exploiting the millions-year-old Ogallala Aquifer to exhaustion. But not to worry–eventually there will be many fewer mouths to feed as a result. We never learn.

  6. says

    …Kentucky Bluegrass, which has the most pathetic shallow mat of a root system. See?

    Actually, at first, I didn’t. It’s so tiny that I didn’t notice it next to the others.

  7. A. Feesh says

    Thinking you you and your family. It’s so hard seeing your parents age. Hope she’s on the mend quickly.