Plants are usually known for their beautiful flowers, leaves, and branches, but there is a whole other side to them that we rarely see. Netherlands-based Wageningen University & Research possesses an archive of 1,180 drawings that depict the intricate patterns and routes of root systems. These elaborate studies were made over a period of 40 years, focusing on the flora of Europe with particular emphasis on Austria.
These drawings were part of a collaborative effort between University professor Dr. Erwin Lichtenegger and University professor Dr. Lore Kutschera, leader of Pflanzensoziologisches Institute. Each illustration portrays a specific type of plant or tree as it appears above ground and below. The artists include a scale on the side to give context to the size and expanse of these root systems.
While the primary function of these drawing exercises was to study the way in which these fibrous networks collect nutrients and water for the plants, they are also exquisite works of art themselves. Dr. Lichtenegger and Dr. Kutschera meticulously sketched the sprawling labyrinthine roots, even as they spread out, stretched in far directions, and grew numerous tendrils. It highlights the beauty of a less-seen side of nature.
Scroll down to see more root drawings, and learn more about the series by visiting Wageningen University's website.