Roots pictured above from left: Osage Orange tree roots in St. Louis Botanical Garden; middle and center both taken in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
In the English language we say that children need 'roots' as well as wings. We use the word 'roots' to denote the origin of something, as in the 'roots of jazz in New Orleans' or the 'roots of democracy.' We also use 'root' to cheer on our favorite sports teams. And we can never forget that our hair and teeth also have 'roots.'
For a tree, roots are essential for their very existence. Roots store food reserves during the winter. Year round they absorb and transport water and minerals from the soil to the rest of the tree. We never forget that they anchor the tree against wind. Yet for all their hard work they are largely ignored by us humans. Leaves are celebrated in the fall. A tree's fruits, flowers and nuts are celebrated in summer and fall. As far as I know, roots are never celebrated -- and I think they should be! Their shapes and patterns can be enchanting. Perhaps it is their lack of color that accounts for the lack of attention paid to them.
A general misconception is that most of a tree's roots are deeply buried and out of sight. Yet most tap roots are only 15 feet deep and 99% of tree roots are in the top 3 feet of soil; with the vast majority of those in the top 1.5 feet of the soil. This is because tree roots need oxygen to function and it is easier to access oxygen closer to the surface.
I am always amazed when I see tree roots living on hard rock, as in the photo in the top far right. They certainly get access to oxygen that way! And serve as a wonderful example to all of us about adaptability, flexibility and tenacity.
Ruthie photographs trees because she loves them.
1 - 3pm
A Walk in the Woods
423 N. Main St.
Photographer and editor Ruthie Rosauer will be on hand to autograph copies of her book, THESE TREES. The book, a compilation of 140 trees photos paired with poems, has been described as "A gorgeous book, a heart-opening photo collection."