Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Question for the Hive Mind: Bright Orange Something

I saw these in the spring. They were more or less in a ditch, next to a corn field. The ditch was dug up in maybe April, more or less right before they planted the field. They look like carrots, but carrots don't get that long, do they? Especially not if they get dug up every year, as these apparently do. Also I think they might have been horizontal under the soil, before getting dug up, though these pictures don't really support that and it's been a few months so I don't know what that impression is based on.

But so anyway. What are these? Opening the photos in a separate window may be helpful.


Anonymous said...

They look a lot like the roots of the invasive European Morus alba, white mulberry. Was there a mulberry tree nearby?


Anonymous said...

Is there a hedgerow nearby? I'm thinking Osage Orange tree roots (Maclura pomifera). Can't seem to find a good image of the roots on the web.


Diana said...

I've dug up plants with orange roots before. I just can't recall off the top of my head what they were (sweetgum trees? Poke weed?). It's something common and weedy, though.

I'll be checking back to see if anyone else can come up with the plant.

mr_subjunctive said...


At least one, within about fifteen feet, plus probably others further away, because in Eastern Iowa you're never too far away from a mulberry tree. I'm pretty sure you got it.

Garden Groans / Nanina:

I don't think so, but in fairness I probably wouldn't recognize one if it didn't have fruit on it. They're not that common around here in developed areas, though (I assume because the fruit is messy and attracts animals): the only ones I've seen were in a state park.


Sweetgum either won't grow here, or will but isn't popular, and pokeweed does but I don't think overwinters. (And even if it did, wikiposedly it has a "large white taproot.") Mulberries are common and weedy, though, too, so maybe that's what you were thinking of?

Unknown said...

Look a bit like sassafras roots too, actually..

Anonymous said...

Oooooo - sassafrass roots? Did you dig one, or smell it at all? I wish I had a quarter for every cup of sassafrass tea I drank as a kid in Indiana. And when we moved east our relatives would dig roots and mail them to us. Even though it originally was drunk as a way to thin the blood in the spring, we grew to crave it.

On the other hand there are a surprising number of plants with orange roots; we just spent a year grubbing out roots from an "ornamental" sumac that was sending out roots the size of cables all over the yard and garden.

Steve Asbell said...

Whatever it is they sure look invasive! Wicked looking too.

Tom said...

Sure looks like Mulberry to me

Anonymous said...

I was digging around in a woody area and found some of those last night, and I was looking to see what the belong to. There is, in fact, a good sized mulberry tree right there where I was digging, so thanks for the post and comments.