Schoenoplectus americanus, or the chairmaker’s bulrush, is a common wetland plant in the Americas, and it has an existential problem. It has chosen to live in a place where it is always at risk of being drowned.
Like all plants, the bulrush requires oxygen to produce energy. One solution is obvious: Send shoots skyward like straws to suck down oxygen to the roots. But the bulrush also employs a more unusual strategy: raising the ground on which it grows. The plant builds its roots near the surface, where they trap the sediment and organic muck that flows into the marsh. Eventually, the whole ecosystem stands a little taller, and the
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