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Horizontal underground plant stem capable of producing the upward shoot and downward root systems of a new plant. This capability allows vegetative (asexual) propagation and enables plants to survive an annual unfavourable season underground. In some plants (e.g., water lilies, many ferns, and forest herbs), the rhizome is the only stem of the plant. In such cases, only the leaves and flowers are readily visible.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on rhizome, visit Britannica.com.