[Ads-l] rootstalk - 1837

Benjamin Barrett mail.barretts at GMAIL.COM
Tue Aug 16 03:44:06 UTC 2016

According to Wikipedia, a rhizome (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhizome) is also called a “creeping rootstalk” or a “rootstock”. As “stalk” and “stock” are homophones for me, this is an interesting convergence as the two have different etymologies.

The online Oxford Dictionary has “rootstock” but not “rootstalk”. 

The earliest example of “rootstalk” I see in Google Books is 1837 in the book "Amaryllidaceæ: Preceded by an Attempt to Arrange the Monocotyledonous Orders, and Followed by a Treatise on Cross-Bred Vegetables, and Supplement” by William Herbert (http://bit.ly/2bj6Z6a), and it is accompanied by “creeping”:

It appears (see fig. 2.) to have a creeping rootstalk with small pyriform tubers appended.

In the 1856 “A Treatise on Therapeutics, and Pharmacology: Or Materia Medica, Volume 2” by George B. Wood (http://bit.ly/2bAFwNE), the term appears without “creeping”:

All these species are climbing, briery plants, having long slender roots, which proceed in all directions from a common rootstalk or rhizome…. As sarsaparilla is usually imported, it consists either of whole roots, including rootstalk and radicals, folded lengthwise, or of the latter exclusively, separated from the rhizome, and in either case bound together, in large cylindrical bundles, by circular turns, either of the rootlets themselves, or of some flexible stem

Benjamin Barrett
Formerly of Seattle, WA
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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