woensdag 9 april 2014

Surtsey and the tomato as weed

The island Surtsey arose from the sea, south of Iceland, in a volcanic eruption that took from 1963 to 1967 to complete. Like Krakatau it has been extensively monitored by ecologists and biologists studying biological succession.

Here is how John McPhee writes about in The Control of Nature (1990):
From Surtsey's inception, scientists of many disciplines have carefully observed the island, taking advantage of any number of exceptional opportunities - for example, to observe the very beginnings of the process of forest succession, as seeds from who knows where invade and colonize freshly forming soil. For many months, they watched intently for the first green shoot to make its appearance in the black grit. This could offer insight so deep it might extend illumination even as far as the Silurian world. At last, a leaf appeared, unfurled, and was followed by a vine - a tomato plant.
The first plant to arrive was actually sea rocket, but the story of the vagrant tomato is well known. Introduced by human defecation (it was well manured, yes) and removed. 

If you want to know history, know the plants.

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