Block of the Week: Rooted Dirt
We're rooting for it!
Azalea trees are really something. Not only do they look beautiful, all tall and proud. Not only do they subtly indicate the presence of lush caves below. Not only do their saplings provide pollen for bees, unlike other tree saplings. But they also – most amazingly of all – generate a new type of dirt. Yes, dirt! It’s called “rooted dirt”, and it’s our block of the week.
Rooted dirt was initially shown off at Minecraft Live 2020, then became a part of the full game when the first part of the Caves and Cliffs update was released. Smart readers will notice that this is the same time that Azalea trees were added to the game, which is obviously no coincidence.
Rooted dirt is dirt filled with roots – specifically, dirt-filled with azalea roots. If you want some, then locate an azalea tree and dig beneath it to find plenty of the stuff. You can also grow new azalea trees if you want, because any dirt below the tree will be immediately converted to rooted dirt when it grows. In a pinch, if you can’t find any azalea trees at all, you can also buy rooted dirt from wandering traders.
Once you’ve got some, what can you do with it? Well, not a whole lot. It’s mostly decorative. But grass and mycelium won’t spread onto rooted dirt, so it can be used to make your garden look a little more interesting.
The one unique feature of rooted dirt is that using bonemeal on it will cause hanging roots to grow out of the bottom of the block. You can’t do much with hanging roots either, but they look pretty cool – especially if you’re trying to create an overgrown tunnel kind of vibe.
In the real world, organic matter makes up about 10% of most soils, and some of that organic matter is roots. We usually think of roots in connection with trees, but almost all plants have roots that serve as both a way to get water and nutrients and also a system to anchor the plant’s body to the ground. Some plants also store food in their roots.
There are two different kinds of root systems – fibrous roots have lots of roots growing in all kinds of directions, while taproots have a single main root that grows directly down with some secondary roots growing off it. Sometimes these taproots are edible – like sweet potato, carrot, turnip, and horseradish.
But it’s not just food that we get from roots. Yam roots create estrogen compounds that are used in birth control pills, while other plant roots are used in the creation of medicines, insecticides, and even fertilizer. Oh, and roots also protect the environment by preventing soil erosion and landslides.
So really we’ve got quite a lot to thank roots for. Thanks, roots!
- Written By
- Duncan Geere
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