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Why Would a Tree Have Such Big Roots? Learn About Buttress Roots



We usually think of roots as the parts of the tree that are found underground. While they may start running along the surface a little (much to the chagrin of anyone trying to mow their lawn around said roots), they stay beneath.

In the case of some trees in places like the rainforest, though, they have evolved to form large buttress roots on top of the soil. These are used to form a strong structure to help the tree stay up.


Another reason that these are created is because there are not many nutrients in the soil, so there is nothing for the roots to find. These shallow roots can extend far from the tree and give it more opportunities for nutrition overall. Since the roots are so tall, fallen leaves tend to collect inside and release nutrients as they decompose.

Examples of trees that form buttress roots include figs and mangroves. You may also see these called prop roots or stilt roots.

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