Underground Roots

Underground Stems

The underground stems, by being situated below the surface of the soil, protect themselves against unfavorable conditions of weather and the attack of animals and serve as storehouses for reserve food, and in vegetative propagation. Their stem nature can be distinguished by the presence of nodes and internodes, scale leaves at the nodes, axillary buds in axils of scale leaves and a terminal bud. Further, the anatomy of the underground stem resembles that of an aerial stem. The underground stems are of four types namely rhizome, tuber, bulb, and corm.


A rhizome is a thick horizontally growing stem which usually stores food material. It has nodes and internodes, scale leaves, axillary buds, adventitious roots and a terminal bud. Scale leaves enclosing the axillary buds are seen arising from the nodal points of the stem. Some of the axillary buds develop into branches which grow upwards into the air and then produce normal green foliage leaves. Usually, the growing points of the rhizome continue to remain underground causing an elongation of the rhizome. Roots develop from the lower surface of the rhizome. Eg. Ginger, Turmeric.

structure of rhizome in ginger

fig. 27.17 Rhizome of Ginger

root stock or vertical rhizome in alocasia

fig. 27.18 Root Stock (Vertical Rhizome) of Alocasia


Tuber is a swollen end of an underground branch which arises from the axil of a lower leaf. These underground branches grow horizontally outwards in the soil. Each tuber is irregular in shape due to the deposition of food materials (starch). On the surface of each tuber, many leaf scars are seen. These leaf scars are the impressions of fallen scale leaves. Each such leaf scar encloses an axillary bud. A leaf scar with an axillary bud is called an eye. These eyes of a potato are capable of producing new plants by vegetative propagation. E.g., Potato.

structure of tuber in potato

fig. 27.19 Tuber of Potato


Here, the stem is reduced and represented by a short disc. The lower surface of the stem produces many adventitious roots. E.g., Onion, Garlic.

In bulbs of onion, garlic, etc. the inner leaves are fleshy while the outer ones are dry. This is called as tunicated bulb since the concentric leaf bases form a complete covering or tunic. The apical bud of the bulb produces the shoot. The axillary buds sometimes produce daughter bulbs, as in garlic.

structure of bulb in onion

fig. 27.20 Bulb of Onion

structure of bulb in garlic

fig. 27.20 Bulb of garlic


A corm is a greatly swollen underground basal portion of an erect stem. The swelling is due to the storage of reserve food material. It bears scale leaves and axillary buds. At the end of the growing season, the aerial parts die. With the return of favorable conditions usually one axillary bud (rarely more than one) near the apex develops into a new shoot utilizing the food reserve material in the old corm. The new plant produces a new corm at its base. The earlier corm shrivels off. E.g. Amorphophallus, Colocasia.

structure of corm in colocasia

fig. 27.21 Corm of Colocasia

Root Magic

adamandeverootDifferent spells use different parts of plants, but roots, which lie buried in Earth, are considered particularly magical. The most powerful plants have the most powerful roots and some are extremely potent indeed. Different roots are used for different purposes. Adam and Eve root, for instance, which resembles its namesake, is used to draw love, while Angelica root, also known as Archangel root because knowledge of its use was a gift from the Archangel Michael, bestows healing and protection to all, as well as extra power for women.


Root magic is tremendously ancient. The Jewish Bible records Leah and Rachel’s squabble over possession of a mandrake-with-flowersprized mandrake root said to draw both love and fertility.

Today many magical root plants are terribly endangered. Because it’s easier to destroy the plant to obtain the root, indiscriminate harvesting has decimated many of these species. In addition, many spells require roots to be chopped into small pieces. In this form, they are fairly unrecognizable. Dishonest merchants prey on people’s desires by substituting other plants. If you’ve purchased what is marketed as Mandrake in the United States, it’s most likely you actually bought mayapple, also a plant used in enchantments but not the same thing, not as rare and certainly not worthy of Mandrake prices. Even worse, artificial and/or petroleum products are frequent substitutes.

lucky-hand-rootThe best way to be confident that your roots are genuine is to be familiar with its aroma and appearance. What should it look like, what should it smell like? Lucky Hand Root {Dactylorhiza orchids}, for instance, looks like a tiny human hand with too many fingers. Those extra fingers are believed to help you catch whatever it is that you need. For complete security and power, cultivate your own root plants or purchase roots only from reputable vendors.