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Plenary Symposium: Botany in the World's Service

Moran, Robbin [1].

Helpful and Harmful Ferns.

Ferns have interacted with people in both good and bad ways. The mosquito fern (Azolla), a small floating fern, has been used as a fertilizer in the rice paddies of southeastern Asia since at least 1200 AD. In many places around the world, the fiddleheads of certain species are commonly eaten. Ferns are also used in various handicrafts, such as ponga ware from New Zealand (made from tree fern trunks) and baskets from Thailand (make from the leaf midribs of a climbing fern, Lygodium). Ferns have helped answer scientific questions, such as what happened at the time the dinosaurs went extinct (the fern spike). On the bad side, one of the world's worst aquatic weeds is a fern: the molesting Salvinia (Salvinia molesta). A climbing fern (Lygodium microphyllum) is now a terrible weed in cypress swamps in southern Florida. Bracken fern (Pteridium) invades and ruins pastures worldwide, and its fiddleheads, which are commonly eaten, are implicated in a high incidence of human stomach cancer.


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1 - New York Botanical Garden, Institute of Systematic Botany, 200Th Street & Southern Boulevard, Bronx, New York, 10458-5126, USA

Keywords:
ethnobotany
Ferns
weeds
vascular plants
Edible plants.

Presentation Type: Symposium or Colloquium Presentation
Session: 4-3
Location: Salon G - Austin Grand Ballroom/Hilton
Date: Monday, August 15th, 2005
Time: 9:15 AM
Abstract ID:150


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