Many plants do not depend exclusively on their roots to reproduce, but instead have the so-called asexual vegetative reproduction , which allows them to spread without the need for flowers or seeds.
In this article we are going to talk about stolons, which are one of those forms of vegetative reproduction that some plants use. Read on and discover what stolons are , what they are for and examples of plants with stolons , among more interesting facts.
What are plant stolons and what are they for?
Stolons are weak horizontally growing stems that always start from the main stem and are produced by many plants. They always grow very close to the ground, either below it, which are the so-called underground stolons , or on the surface of this, which are epigeal stolons , sometimes called creepers or runners, and contain embryonic cells that allow them to take root and produce new plants that, if separated from the main one, will become completely independent.
As a means of asexual reproduction that they are, the function of stolons is none other than to extend the ground that the plant covers in order to be able to reach a greater number of nutrients and colonize a greater surface area. This resource is used by many plants that live in areas or environments where they face unfavorable or hostile characteristics, such as aridity, excess humidity or high salinity. Because the newly rooted plant is still connected to the mother plant through the stem, it can receive nutrients and water from it until it becomes strong enough to fend for itself. This makes plants that reproduce by stolons are usually very resistant and can overcome conditions that are fatal for other species.
Since a stolon can produce more stolons in turn, these plants can cover huge amounts of land and even become a pest if they are in favorable conditions, so when planting plants of this type in natural areas you should Always be very careful not to end up upsetting the balance of the local flora.
Plants with stolons: examples
There are a large number of plants that reproduce by stolons , some of them well known to most of us. Let’s see some of its most characteristic examples:
Strawberry ( Fragaria vesca )
These sweet and sour fruits so popular around the world are perhaps the most popular example of stolon reproduction, as this is also the simplest and easiest way to reproduce strawberries in gardens and orchards. Since the stolons tend to move looking for a location, when looking to reproduce strawberries by means of them they tend to be fixed to the desired place by burying them and placing a light weight that makes them root at that specific point.
Mint ( Mentha )
This genus of aromatic plants, widely used in gardening for its aromatic and culinary value, is also a very good example of a plant that reproduces by stolons. It is usual to cut the stolons to a certain length to immerse them in water until they produce roots and then plant them as if they were a cutting.
Love bow, ribbon or malamadre ( Chlorophytum comosum )
Another plant is widely cultivated in gardens for its ornamental value, which is reproduced throughout the year by stolons, naturally giving rise to dense and continuously expanding clumps.
Clover ( Trifolium repens )
Ireland’s iconic plant, famous for its attributed ability to bring luck to those who find four-leaf clovers, is also another species that makes use of stolons. In fact, it is thanks to this capacity that it is as capable as upholstery, being able to cover large areas of land in a short time.
Difference between rhizome and stolon
The rhizomes and stolons perform functions very similar in plants, since both are cases of asexual vegetative reproduction. The main difference between them, however, is that while the stolons almost always develop above the ground and very close to it, the rhizomes are always underground stems, also horizontally growing, that produce roots and shoots in their different knots.
The rhizomes never stop growing, renewing themselves over time as their oldest parts die, but without stopping producing new ones. Another distinctive feature between rhizomes and stolons is that the former are always thick and short, while the latter are thin and long.