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Word of the Week: Rhizome
July 26, 2019 by Haya Aldoori

Welcome to Word of the Week! Stay tuned for a new word each Friday to amp up your nature vocabulary!

Photo by Andrew Yee

Rhizome [RAHY-zohm] (noun): A rootlike subterranean stem, commonly horizontal in position, that usually produces roots below and sends up shoots progressively from the upper surface.

In the areas of High Park where there is Black Oak Savannah habitat, a mid-summer favourite is in bloom: Wild Bergamot! This pompom-like flower has an impressive root system that consists of deep, strongly branched roots, and shallow, yet durable, rhizomes which are responsible for the spreading of the plant. These rhizomes typically send up multiple leafy stems in a tight cluster, which is why Wild Bergamot appears to be growing in large bushy clumps.

During the time when this wildflower is bloom, many of our program participants are encouraged to gently rub the leaves between their fingers and enjoy the wonderful smell. We find that it smells a little bit like oregano and sometimes even jokingly refer to it as the pizza plant with the kids (a great way for them to remember the flower!)

The aromatic Wild Bergamot is not only enjoyed by humans but also by the local pollinators. Just this week, we spotted a patch of Wild Bergamot with, what seemed like a bumblebee at each flower.

Keep an eye out for Wild Bergamot on your next visit to High Park and notice how many bumble bees are buzzing around the flowers!

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