Definition of rhizome in US English:



  • A continuously growing horizontal underground stem which puts out lateral shoots and adventitious roots at intervals.

    Compare with bulb (sense 1), corm
    • ‘In addition, shrub roots and rhizomes grow into above-ground gaps, making below-ground gaps smaller than above-ground gaps.’
    • ‘Despite their differing underground structures, corms, tuberous roots, and rhizomes are all referred to as bulbs.’
    • ‘Mucilages found in rhizomes, roots and seed endosperms may act primarily as energy reserves whereas foliar mucilages appear not to serve as storage carbohydrates.’
    • ‘Irises grow from thick, underground stems, called rhizomes, that store food produced by the leaves.’
    • ‘The plant is tough to stamp out because it develops a system of roots and rhizomes, horizontal underground stems that descend as far as six feet into the sand.’
    radicle, rootstock, tuber, tap root, rootlet
    View synonyms


Mid 19th century: from Greek rhizōma, from rhizousthai ‘take root’, based on rhiza ‘root’.