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The Root System of Artemisia Tridentata at 9,500 Feet in Wyoming

Tabler, Ronald D.
Ecology 1964 v.45 no.3 pp. 633-636
Artemisia tridentata, nutrients, root systems, roots, soil profiles, Wyoming
Three plants of big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata Nutt.) were excavated on each of four sites at 9,500 ft elevation in northwestern Wyoming. All plants studied were characterized by a woody taproot which rapidly tapered to a diameter of 2 or 3 mm within the first 6 dm of soil and a dense well‐developed system of lateral roots. About 62% of the total root length was concentrated in the upper 6 dm of the soil profile. Depth of maximum penetration varied from 12.2 to 18.3 dm, and maximum radial spread from the stem ranged from 9.1 to 15.2 dm. Root penetration and depths of concentration were slightly greater on the drier ridge and west‐exposure sites as compared to the more moist valley bottom and east exposure locations. Radial root spread was greatest on plants growing on sidehill sites. The general root configuration of big sagebrush would appear to allow utilization of both surface and subsurface moisture and nutrients.