Sunday, January 01, 2012

Puerto Rico and Princeton--Buttress Roots

One of the pleasures of an acquaintance with plants is being able to see similarities and differences in distant plant worlds. Some of our potted plants, such as the pothos vine and various kinds of fig trees that show little ambition while standing neglected in a dimly lit corner, grow to enormous size outdoors in tropical climes.

The roots of fig trees can be as impressive as their canopies.
Here's one, growing next to dormitories at the University of Puerto Rico, that brings back memories of flying buttresses on European cathedrals.

If this tree were to ever blow over, which is looking very unlikely, it would take the wall with it.
Princeton offers a few examples of root buttressing. This white oak grows on a lower slope of the Princeton Ridge, in Herrontown Woods, where the soil is often wet for long periods.

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