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Old Today, 10:50 AM
 
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for years I've heard the claim that for every given tree, there is an equivalent root mass below ground so that trunk + branches/twigs = roots, by weight.
however, after seeing quite a few big trees uprooted I doubt that's the case.

does anyone know?
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Old Today, 12:21 PM
 
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I have heard it too. I would say that any tree you saw uprooted did not represent the entire root mass. It was probably a sick or injured tree that fell over because it did not have its normal, healthy amount of roots. Healthy root zones extend well beyond the drip-line and the complexity of roots is incredible. Roots get smaller and smaller until they are just root hairs, only one cell wide.
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Old Today, 12:44 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TreeZoo View Post
I have heard it too. I would say that any tree you saw uprooted did not represent the entire root mass. It was probably a sick or injured tree that fell over because it did not have its normal, healthy amount of roots. Healthy root zones extend well beyond the drip-line and the complexity of roots is incredible. Roots get smaller and smaller until they are just root hairs, only one cell wide.
good point on the bolded, I think that's true. some of the roots still remained underground, I'm sure, but it doesn't seem like it would add up to the amount of mass aboveground, esp. in the case of really big trees.

i did find this -

https://www.sciencedaily.com/release...0222073630.htm

but it doesn't say what the proportion is.
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Old Today, 02:26 PM
 
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Well the root ball is bigger with the larger trees. I don't think the roots go down as deep as the branches reach above.


Enjoy:



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMwCThoK43k
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Old Today, 02:32 PM
 
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wow, nice video. I lost two similar size trees during hurricane Irene and the roots stuck up about that far.
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Old Today, 03:06 PM
 
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, originally from SF Bay Area
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We see a lot of that in the woods where we hike after a windstorm has hit the area. Climate has a lot to do with it. Here we get rain 9-10 months of the year so roots stay very shallow, making them more hazardous. Some trees like the California Live Oak have a long, straight tap root to reach water way below the surface in dryer areas. The soil/terrain also affects it, roots will not go as deep if they keep hitting rocks and get diverted sideways.
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Old Today, 03:08 PM
 
Location: Central WI
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Tree roots can't go any deeper than the bedrock, and that usually isn't anywhere near as deep as an old tree is tall.

OTOH, the roots can extend out quite a way-- well beyond the drip line as noted above. That's the reason we're warned about staying away from trees in a lightning storm: a strike anywhere near the tree will carry the charge along the roots like a wire mesh. You might be standing on the opposite side of the tree from a strike and still get a shock thru the ground via the roots.

Excavators can kill a large oak just by driving their heavy equipment over the root zone, many feet away from the tree trunk. Oaks are very sensitive in this way.

And visitors to nature reserves are often warned to "stay on the trails" because experience has taught the officials that even minor foot traffic on root zones seemingly far away can injure trees.
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Old Today, 03:08 PM
 
Location: Old Hippie Heaven
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uggabugga View Post
good point on the bolded, I think that's true. some of the roots still remained underground, I'm sure, but it doesn't seem like it would add up to the amount of mass aboveground, esp. in the case of really big trees.

i did find this -

https://www.sciencedaily.com/release...0222073630.htm

but it doesn't say what the proportion is.
It depends on the species, but the physiologically functional part of the root system - the part that actually absorbs most of the water and nutrients - are the root hairs, and they are just what they sound like. They will remain in the ground when the tree blows over - or when you pull up the weed. And they may indeed comprise more of the plant than the parts you can see. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Root_hair

Keep in mind that when you looking at a big tree, most of the wood you see is no longer very physiologically alive. A good part of it is flat-out dead, the rest serves as storage. On some really old trees, the green parts are far outweighed by the old wood, which at this point is structural, but no longer involved in photosynthesis.

There's a great book by Robert Kourik about roots - RobertKourik
Be sure to click on the link "Click to see inside Understanding Roots"

Your library most likely has it, and it will give you a whole new take on the plants you see.
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