Monday, April 20, 2015

Polka Dots

The subtropical garden has plants that we don't have at all. These little yellow polka dots look more like something fabricated than a product of nature. These turn out to be a Psilotum nudum also known as the Skeleton Fork Fern.  Its name means 'bare naked' in Latin, because it lacks most of the organs of modern plants.  It is considered a'primitive' plant.  It is prized in Japan and called pine needle orchid there.  In the Hawaiian Islands it is known locally as Moa because of its chicken feet like stems.  Hawaiians use the spores like talcum powder. Children have a game called 'moa nahele'  or cock fighting with the branches and stems.  The winner would crow like a rooster.  It also has a common name of Whisk Fern, as a handful of its branches would be tied together and used as  broom.  

All this history from an unusual plant in the conservatory of the Marie Selby Gardens in Florida.


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