Before we can fully understand the importance of stolons and rhizomes, we must first discuss the life cycle of grass.  When we see a lawn that has been around for several years, such as an athletic field, we think the age of the grass is pretty high.  This however, is false.  Individual grass leaves only have a life cycle of approximately forty days.  Turf grass is continuously making “new grass”blades, also known as tillers, to keep up with the grass that has died back or suffered damage.  The roots of the turf grass die back as well.  In fact, over the course of a year turf grass will shed its entire root system twice!  Not all at once though.  Each root is replaced individually until all the roots have been shed.  Two important structures, stolons and rhizomes, help with this process.  Stolons and rhizomes are both grass stems that produce nodes which in turn produce a new grass plant.  Each new grass plant is identical to the grass stolon or rhizome it derived from.  Stolons are stems that grow horizontally above the ground while rhizomes are stems that grow horizontally and continue to elongate beneath the soil surface.  It is important not to mistake rhizomes for roots.  They are often confused because rhizomes look like a small white “root system”.  Remember that these “roots” of the rhizome are actually stems producing nodes, which in turn create new plants.  Roots are roots, they are not stems and do NOT produce new plants.

roots and rhizomes