A Theory: Why Stem Plants Grow Aerial Roots

Vishaquatics

I often get a lot of questions about why a client's submersed grown stems have tons of roots coming out of the stem. Often, it is considered to take away from the aesthetic of the tank as it can look quite strange to have roots erupting in mid air (or mid water column).

Here's my theory on why aquatic stem plants grow aerial roots:

Most stem plants are amphibious and can grow above the water as well as below. These stems also come from areas with wet and dry seasons. When the wet season starts, the rivers/ponds/streams flood and the water levels rise, submerging the stems for a few months. Once the dry season starts, the water level recedes and the stem plants are now trying to grow out of the water.

Often, the transition from submerged to emersed is more difficult than emersed to submerged due to the delicate nature of submersed stems as well as their tendency to dry out quickly. When submerged stems are exposed to the air, their stems are weak and cannot support upright growth so they flop over as a result. The stems are often located on the banks of bodies of water and flop over onto wet soil. That's where these aerial roots grown underwater kick in.

When the submerged stems flop over as the water level recedes, the stem has a huge advantage where they can quickly establish a root system (due to the existing aerial roots along the side) and transition easily to emersed growth without too much melting.
 

Crispii

Interesting theory. All three stems of my Hygrophila corymbosa seem to be developing aerial root structures, though I don't really mind it all. All I care about is the plant thriving.
 

BillynJennifer

I can see that.
 

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