Live root bridges

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Live root bridges

Post  Kev Bailey on Tue Jan 26, 2010 9:59 pm

Something I'd not heard of before tonight, but the excellent UK TV series by Dr Ian Stewart "How Earth Made Us" mentioned them briefly and caught my interest.

"Grown from the roots of a rubber tree, the Khasis people of Cherapunjee use betel-tree trunks, sliced down the middle and hollowed out, to create "root-guidance systems." When they reach the other side of the river, they're allowed to take root in the soil. Given enough time a sturdy, living bridge is produced."

I found this at http://www.funonthenet.in/forums/index.php?topic=158902.0 where there are some excellent images. Astonishing, the interweb is a truly remarkable thingamabob!

Keep scrolling down and there are Japanese ones too!

I've tried to find Creative Commons licensed shots to post here, but no luck so far.


Last edited by Kev Bailey on Tue Jan 26, 2010 10:27 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : Added extra info)

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Re: Live root bridges

Post  jon hultgren on Tue Jan 26, 2010 11:47 pm

Thats really interesting stuff there. I wonder if at first they had planned on the roots being bridges or if that was just a happy by-product.

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Live root bridges

Post  Guest on Wed Jan 27, 2010 1:20 am

I watched it too Kev, excellent program. The annual rainfall is 12 metres, so a wooden bridge would rot in no time.

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Re: Live root bridges

Post  Kev Bailey on Wed Jan 27, 2010 9:00 am

Jon, I think these are completely pre-planned. Someone must've noticed the long aerial roots and how they got thicker and stronger once they touched down. From there, it was a short step to redirecting them across the river using hollowed out logs. As Will says, bridges that don't rot in the monsoon climate and get stronger over time. What a solution!

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Live root bridges

Post  Guest on Wed Jan 27, 2010 1:57 pm

Had a look for non copyright images and found this one.

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Re: Live root bridges

Post  Jay Gaydosh on Wed Jan 27, 2010 2:11 pm

Looks like something that might swallow you up when you weren't watching.

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Re: Live root bridges

Post  Guest on Wed Jan 27, 2010 2:17 pm

Yes Jay, I can just imagine those roots making a grab for your ankles affraid

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Re: Live root bridges

Post  Jay Gaydosh on Wed Jan 27, 2010 2:32 pm

will baddeley wrote:Yes Jay, I can just imagine those roots making a grab for your ankles affraid

OR WORSE, hiking up my kilt and scaring the neighbors! Laughing

Seriously, we have all these brilliant engineers running the world over, and it was probably some village peddler or farmer who said, "everything we put over this darned river rots away or floats down river, but these pesky trees thrive here and their roots are persistant little suckers."

Living proof that the old adage "Necessity is the mother of all inventions" really is OLD!

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Live Root Bridges

Post  bonsaisr on Wed Jan 27, 2010 3:53 pm

Kev Bailey wrote:"Grown from the roots of a rubber tree, the Khasis people of Cherapunjee use betel-tree trunks, sliced down the middle and hollowed out, to create "root-guidance systems." When they reach the other side of the river, they're allowed to take root in the soil.
Something here is not making sense. We know that rubber trees, i.e. Ficus, produce aerial roots that could be used for this purpose. However, the betel tree is a palm, and I never heard of a palm that you could slice in half or would produce aerial roots. And Areca is not a rubber tree. Its partner, the betel leaf vine, doesn't fit either. It is a species of pepper. it doesn't have a trunk altogether. Journalists often botch up botanical news.
Iris

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Re: Live root bridges

Post  jon hultgren on Wed Jan 27, 2010 4:17 pm

I think you may have misread part of that. The betel trees were not the trees producing the roots. They were just being used as a scaffolding for the roots of the ficus until the roots could support themselves across the gap.

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Re: Live root bridges

Post  Jay Gaydosh on Wed Jan 27, 2010 5:24 pm

That is how I read it. The betel trees are being used in the same manner we use drinking straws to channel the Ficus roots in the direction we want them to grow. In time the channels break down leaving the roots to establish on the far side of the river bed or draw.

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Re: Live root bridges

Post  Kev Bailey on Wed Jan 27, 2010 6:11 pm

Thanks Will, that's a pretty good image. Gets the idea across and shows that the bridges are stable enough to carry a paved deck.


Last edited by Kev Bailey on Sun Feb 07, 2010 1:22 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : typo)

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Re: Live root bridges

Post  Todd Ellis on Sun Feb 07, 2010 1:13 pm

Hi Kev,
Those bridges are incredible. Thank you for sharing the link. My ancestors called our green friends the "Standing Ones"; they certainly live up to that in these bridges!
Regards,Todd

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Re: Live root bridges

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