Larry Davis wrote:John E. Weaver (1884-1966), longtime professor at University of Nebraska did the most extensive work on prairie plant roots. Had 45 PhD and 50 MS students according to online bio. In his last (posthumous) book Prairie plants and their environment, published 1968, there are pictures (pp12-15) of roots of Rosa suffulta as he called it. They go down about 20 ft, no surface-tracking rhizomes or roots shown. Rather thick but spare with few branches. The pictures are of course composite drawings from multiple specimens. For some plants he dug 5-10, or more specimens, by hand with careful washing away of the soil from huge undisturbed monoliths. That is described in his early books on roots of prairie plants.
The pictures are based on work published in 1919 & 1920 in the Publications of the Carnegie Institution of Washington # 286 and 292. The former is entitled Ecological relations of roots (128 pp) while the latter is Root development in the grassland formation (151 pp). Soil type influences the branching and fibrousness of root systems as shown in Weaver's work.
Thanks for the info. I haven't had time yet to read the reports, but here they are for anyone who may be interested.
Prairie plants and their environment (1968)https://soilandhealth.org/wp-content/up ... educed.pdf
Ecological relations of roots (1919)http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/item ... 7/mode/1up
Root development in the grassland formation (1920)http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/item ... 5/mode/1up
Back when I was at K-State, I worked part time on a study conducted by a Nigerian student on the root growth of soybeans. I washed roots.
Plots were dug to various depths, the soil was washed off, and the roots were collected, dried, and weighed. It was messy work, but I understood the importance. It was also an interesting challenge talking with someone who seemed to have a learned English from someone with a British accent.