En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Mycotrophic plants that develop underground for years in Alabama

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - January 10, 2006

From: Jacksonville, AL
Region: Southeast
Topic: General Botany
Title: Mycotrophic plants that develop underground for years in Alabama
Answered by: Joe Marcus and Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I recently heard someone say that there was a plant that took seven years to grow. They stated that the seed is in the ground but it begins the growth under ground but does not come to the surface for seven years. Can you help?

ANSWER:

We don't know of any specific plant that has a seven year root development period before sprouting, though we wouldn't discount the possibility. Because most plants require sunlight to grow much beyond the germination and sprouting stages of development, the most likely candidates to fit the description would be plants that do not produce chlorophyll. There are basically three types of such plants; parasites, which "steal" energy directly from other plants; mycoheterophytes (also called epiparasites), which receive nutrition from other plants indirectly through a fungal intermediary; and mycotrophic (also called saprophytic) plants which also have a symbiotic relationship with fungi (mycorrhyzae) but do not parasitize other plants. You can read a nice article on mycotrophic plants that includes some of the epiparasites as well.

Some well-known examples of mycotrophic plants that might develop roots for many years before emerging from the soil to flower and produce seeds are some of the terrestrial orchids such as those in the genera Corallorrhiza and Hexalectris. Spiked Crested Coralroot (Hexalectris spicata) and Autumn Coralroot (Corallorrhiza odontorhiza) are ones that occur in Alabama.
 

More General Botany Questions

What do cedars do to cause cedar fever?
February 20, 2009 - What do the native cedars in Fate Tx do in the winter that causes allergies to get really bad that they have named it cedar fever
view the full question and answer

Changing the pH of the soil
January 16, 2012 - Hi, We have a job that has mostly Texas native plants on it. The architect is wanting to drop the pH levels of the soils to acidic levels that we don't feel is good for the plants and the area. ...
view the full question and answer

Possible reasons for yellow heads for Indian Blanket
December 13, 2005 - I had Indian Blanket flowers that had almost pure yellow heads. Will the seeds of these flowers produce plants that will have yellow flowers?
view the full question and answer

Do yuccas die after blooming?
October 11, 2010 - We have a blue yucca which was planted 2 years ago and is just now blooming with a tower of white flowers. Will the entire plant die after blooming as the century plants do? If so, is there a way to s...
view the full question and answer

Identification of first flower on Earth
June 14, 2007 - When was the first on Earth and who find it and what was the name of the flower. Also what part of the Earth was if find?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center