It's a good question. I know old timers that say a lot of it lays dormant in any given year. I've heard some say it only comes up every other year and heard some say the root still grows and even better during a dormant year. I find that hard to swollow-how the root would grow in a year that it wasn't being fed sunlight and nutrients from a top. From my own personal observations, I've never been convinced much if any actually lays dormant with out sending up a top in the spring. What I do believe, is a tremendous amount gets broke or grazed off early in the year and once it looses it's top in a year, it won't shoot up a new one till the next year. I feel it's a fragile top, compared to many other woodland plants and when one thinks of all the critters that have scavenged through the woods, both animals that would like to munch on a top and just flat footed clumsy animals, that step on it and break it, by the time we are out looking for it, it has been up over 4 months and a bunch of it has lost it's top for the year. Of course that's just my observations and theories for a plant I still find to be somewhat mysterious and I too would love to hear others opinions on the subject!