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What causes roots to form on the sides/stems of stem plants?
 

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Almost all stem plants, if not all of them, form aerial roots. It is natural. My guess is that the plants evolved to do that as a way to better anchor themselves when they lay on the substrate. Some plants hide the aerial roots better than others do - Lobelia cardinalis, small form, for example, keeps those roots hidden inside an outer layer of leaves until it grows so high it can no longer do that.
 
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