Winter is the season of the earth element and earth, and it's hard to speak about earth without speaking about physical roots, our ancestral roots, the root (aka foundation) of BEing, energetic roots, grounding, what lays beneath the surface, the lower, middle and upper worlds, and more. Of course, plant roots and soil come under this seasonal theme too, so we'll take a look at an aspect of that here.
It’s generally understood that terrestrial plant life evolved from algae, one key to its successful adaptation being roots that sprawled underground to absorb important nutrients and water. Billions of years later, the fibrous networks are essential to life across the planet as they ensure the growth and health of individual specimens, help prevent erosion, and capture carbon from the air.
A collaborative project of the late botanists Erwin Lichtenegger and Lore Kutschera celebrates the power and beauty of these otherwise hidden systems through detailed drawings of agricultural crops, shrubs, trees, and weeds. Digitized by the Wageningen University & Research, the extensive archive is the culmination of 40 years of research in Austria that involved cultivating and carefully retrieving developed plant life from the soil for study. It now boasts more than 1,000 renderings of the winding, spindly roots, some of which branch multiple feet wide.
We’ve gathered some of the biological studies here, but you can pore through the full collection on the Wageningen University site.