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The word rhizome is a philosophical concept developed by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari in their Capitalism and Schizophrenia (1972-1980) project. It is what Deleuze calls an "image of thought," based on the botanical rhizome, that apprehends multiplicities.[1]

A horizontal underground stem which can send out both shoots and roots, rhizomes sometimes have thickened areas that store starch. A horizontal plant stem with shoots above and roots below serving as a reproductive structure.A type of storage organ in plants which situates itself in a horizontal fashion underground.[2]

"As long as the plant is connected, all the roots, the roots that dig down everywhere, can share nutrients. They share their life, their energy, their fuel. The rhizome “grows between and among things.”[3].

The blog Schizophrenic Summer[4] had a nice set of crucial quotes from Deleuze and Guattari's A Thousand Plateaus, broken into categories:

Rhizome VS. Tree:

“A rhizome may be broken, shattered at any given spot, but it will start up again on one of its old lines, or on new lines” (9). “Perhaps one of the most important characteristics of the rhizome is that it always has multiple entryways” (12). “Thought is not arborescent … Many people have a tree growing in their heads, but the brain itself is much more a grass than a tree” (15). “Such is the principle of roots-trees, or their outcome: the radicle solution, the structure of Power” (17) “The tree is filiation, but the rhizome is alliance, uniquely alliance. The tree imposes the verb ‘to be,’ but the fabric of the rhizome is the conjunction, ‘and … and … and …’ This conjunction carries enough force to shake and uproot the verb ‘to be’” (25).

Unlike a tree..."a rhizome’s “traits are not necessarily linked to traits of the same nature; it brings into play very different regimes of signs, and even nonsign states.” “It is composed not of units but of dimensions, or rather directions in motion. It has neither beginning nor end, but always a middle.” “Unlike a structure, which is defined by a set of points and positions, with binary relations between the points and biunivocal relationships between the positions, the rhizome is made only of lines.” “The rhizome is acentered, non-hierarchical, nonsignifying system without a General and without an organizing memory or central automaton, defined solely by a circulation of states.”


  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhizome_(philosophy)
  2. (Science: plant biology) http://www.biology-online.org/dictionary/Rhizome
  3. (ATP, 19)
  4. rebelrhetoric. Unity Through Rhizome. Schizophrenic Summer. Published 17 July 2008. Accessed Oct 2011. http://schizophrenicsummer.wordpress.com/2008/07/17/unity-through-rhizome/