The Q&A Archives: What kind of rhizome looks like a small twisted white carrot?

Question: We had a St. John's Wort plant we planted some years ago that could too big for the plot, so we dug it up. We found probably 100 things that appear to be rhizomes, though they weren't connect to the Wort. They're about as big as an adult thumb, are completely white, segmented and somewhat twisted in appearance. I want to know what they are so I'll know whether I want to plant them. I haven't found anyone else who can identify them. Prior to the Wort there was a cedar tree in the plot. I live in upcountry South Carolina. Thank you.

Answer: Your St. John's Wort, or Hypericum, can and will develop tuberous roots called rhizomes and I'm pretty sure that's what you've been digging up in your garden. Rhizomes develop just below the soil surface from the crown and can extend outwards. Although you say yours were not connected and you dug them up after you removed the original plant, I suspect they were connected by roots at one time and those roots died out once the rhizomes were able to store adequate carbohydrates to sustain them. Fragmented rhizomes can develop new plants. You can certainly replant the rhizomes or segments of the rhizomes if you want more plants.

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