Chloe Elliot

The Root of the Crack, An Appetite for Rocks, Nature Finds a Way

The Root of the Crack, An Appetite for Rocks and Nature Finds a Way 


Plants and Rocks

When we look at plants and trees, we admire their sheer beauty. Sometimes we find shade under the sprawling branches of a tree or find ourselves lured toward the intoxicating scent of a flower. But beneath a beautiful appearance lies a persistent force, so powerful it can break and shape rock.

This force is called plant weathering. Usually overlooked, it occurs all around us, even under our own two feet! A tree’s growing root exerts pressure on a sidewalk and breaks it apart. The cracks are then invaded by plant forms like lichen, which hold water against the rock, eroding its surface, and releasing chemicals that break down its minerals. Holes and gaps form on the rock, providing more opportunities for weathering, as new plants creep in and grow between the cracks.


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