As the name suggests, the root quiescent center (QC) is an area at the root tip of low cell-division activity. This special issue of the Journal of Experimental Botany provides a comprehensive overview of what we understand about the QC and its importance in root growth. The issue is dedicated to the memory of Frederick Clowes on what would have been his 100th birthday. Clowes built upon previous studies wherein the root apical meristem had been shown to be a region of high cell division activity. Through radioactive labeling followed by sectioning and autoradiography, Clowes identified these quiescent cells within the root apical meristem. His and others’ studies subsequently demonstrated that the QC cells not only provide a reservoir of initial cells (less prone to mutation as a consequence of their lower rate of division) but also that the QC acts as an organizer that controls patterning and cell identity acquisition. The articles in this issue cover insights about QC formation, maintenance, and function that have been gleaned through studies in large-rooted plants (including maize and radish) as well as genetic approaches in Arabidopsis. (Summary by Mary Williams @PlantTeaching) J. Exp. Bot. Vol 72, Issue 19, October 2021.