Not your everyday roots...



This page is a work in progress... but there's worthwhile content here already, I hope you'll agree.

In the photo above you see some of my houseplants. They live in the area around my stairway, below some skylights. Look nice?

The one on the left stands about 165cm (over 5') tall... a story for another day... but quite similar to the Monstera ("Swiss Cheese Plant") that is on the right, and the subject of today's story. The Monstera leaves are up to 65cm (26") long, not counting the petiole ("stem"). (Wikipedia's article.)

Upper detail, houseplants

What I hope you'll find amusing about this plant is the roots it has grown. At the right, you can see a close-up of the base of the plant. The bag of fertilizer outlined in magenta is to give you the scale. It is about 33cm (13") high, and appears in most of the following pictures. (It appeared in the first one too, before PhotoPlus from Serif took it out!)

Trailing down from the plant's stem, past the bucket the plant is rooted in, you will see a root! (Marked by magenta arrow.) There are four of them, all about as thick as my thumb. Though not all are easily seen in the pictures.

That root grew from the plant with the plant where you see it now. It just kept questing for soil. The Monstera is native to the Amazon rainforest, and sometimes they start to grow from a perch on a tree.

Lower detail, houseplants

As the roots grew, I became amused by them, so when they reached the floor downstairs, I provided an extra bucket with soil in it.

These roots are actually more clever than you may realize.

If I put water in a length of plastic tube, and blow on it as hard as I can, I can only push the water up about two thirds of the distance the plants roots lift it.... a bit more than three meters (10'+) from the level of the soil in the lower bucket to the point the root grows from the plant's stem.

The pressure needed to raise water 3 meters is about 5 psi. (Apologies for the mixed units!) In other words, if you had a column of water 12" on a side, it would press down with a force of about 700 pounds. And yet the plant forces the water to rise to the plant. Pretty cool?

The leaves you see in the "downstairs" pictures are from a separate Monstera plant.

The plant you see is just the continuation of one that was on the landing at a school I worked in back in 1980. Thus, in 2010, it is at least 30 years old. The reproduction of Monstera (and many similar plants) is another story for another day!

TK Boyd 09/10. Click here to contact him.

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