I’m learning something new every week having to write these jounrals. Today I saw an article released last week on sfgate.com where they talked about the ability of ferns to help clean up pollution. Who Knew? Probably a lot of biologist and bio students, but I didn’t know about it until now. It’s called Phytoremediation. The article mentions that ferns are the best at this practice of reducing toxicity in soils.
According to the article, ferns used to cover much of the earth, but evolution has forced them to evolve to much smaller sizes. The plants have survived for hundreds of millions of years. The article highlights a particular fern, Chinese brake fern (Pteris Vittata) which are deemed hyper-accumulators. This particular fern is able to pick up heavy metals from the soil and apparently is great at extracting arsenic.
The article mentions that arsenic is now being used to kill insects, bacteria and fungi, though it has been used previously as a wood preservative. The decomposing wood treated with arsenic will leave behind some arsenic which can be picked up by this fern. The problem with this is the Petris Vittata, is not native to the U.S. and is considered an invasive species in the south, especially Florida.
I’m not quite sure what the impact of that fern species is, but if they are so good at cleaning up pollutants, i’m pretty sure we should start covering the earth with ferns. Probably not the best idea, I know, but maybe we should surround metal plants or industrial plants with ferns so at least it cleans up that area. Pretty amazing what plants can do, it’s a shame that we try our hardest to get rid of all the forests on earth.