Lycophytes and Monilophytes hike

For the past five or more years the term has started on a Thursday, which meant that the first ethnobotany class was also on the first day of class at the end of the week. Attendance had suffered as a result. This term started on a Monday, which put the first ethnobotany class on the second day of classes on a full week of class. Attendance was strong with all but one student attending.

The first day I brought in five plants as a pretest, the results of which were depressing. That introduction plus coverage of the syllabus left time only to cover cyanobacteria. The first day of class was wet and rainy, and the students were not yet prepped with the knowledge that ethnobotany walks under the rain. In view of this, I had brought in a specimen of cyanobacteria (Nostoc). Thus moss was not covered on the first day of class.

On the second day of class, the class headed out on the hike into the valley of the monilophytes. I did not open the class, opting to leave from in front of the classroom at 3:30 to maximize the time available for the hike. We stopped to put backpacks in the division supply closet as the weather was again rainy.

Behind the gym the class paused briefly as I looked for moss sporophytes. I did not see any and moved on. I opted to use the trail that takes off from the southwest corner of the parking lot on the west side of the gym.

This dropped the class down into the area where I had previously found Psilotum nudum. I did not locate any P. nudum, the area having become covered with Piper ponapense.

I led the class through the Hibiscus tiliaceus to the trail.

On the Ridgeline

The class stopped on the ridgeline to view the lycopodium Lycopodiella cernua and the sun-loving fern Dicranopteris linearis. Lycopodium is a member of the division Lycophyta, the ferns are members of Monilophyta. After a fire three years ago, and over-harvesting due to decoration for graduation, the Lycopodiella was scarce. This term the Lycopodiella appears to have recovered and expanded along the ridgeline.

Again the language loss among the students was severe. Only one student came up with kidien mal. One of the few Chuukese students disputed unen kattu. And for the first time that I can recall, the main island Yapese student was clueless as to whether the plants even had a name.

The class then paused at the top of the steep slope where Nephrolepisspp. and Thelypteris maemonensis were observed. A tree at the top of the trail now has a healthy growth of the lycopodium Huperzia phlegmaria on the trunk. Since last January strobili have developed on this plant. I was devastated when not a single student could name the Nephrolepis fern - rehdil. A single young man may have known the plant, but was too shy to say. The inability of essentially all of the Pohnpeians to name rehdil is unprecedented.

Local uses and meanings of these plants was also explained, along with names in the local languages. The local names for Microsorum scolopendria, its use as amwarmwar, and the function the plant had as a mwarmwarin protecting the dancer from soumwahuen eni were covered. A plant known locally as marekenleng was located on a tree, this plant is currently listed in the virtual herbarium as Asplenium polyodon.

Also found atop the steep slope was Davallia solida (ulung en kieil). I was so taken aback by broad and deep loss of language, that I forgot to cover the term devolution. Asplenium nidus was encountered as we descended the slope.    Now that I no longer cover the use of Vittaria, the fern is re-establishing on the trees at the top of the slope. This omission has been necessary due to over harvesting of the plants. This term I mentioned only the Pohnpeian name and that the fern is a primitive fern.

On the slope

The descent into the valley was particularly wet and slippery this term due to ongoing drippy rain.

In the valley

Down in the forest I could not locate Humata banksii. This term I also did not locate the Psilotum complanatum nor did I see Huperzia phlegmaria in the valley. The Asplenium Polyodon was still present both on top of the slope and in the valley.

Father along the trail the class observed Cyathea nigricans. One student could name the tree, a couple others agreed with the student. The rest of the class drew a blank.

I then took the class down to the river and up to the Antrophyum callifolium. We reached the A. callifoliumaround 16:40. No one said that they knew its name, no one indicated that they had seen this fern before. I then took role and at 16:47 I dismissed the class. This was one of the later dismissals, but this term add/drop continued until the next day. No one dropped the class.

Overall my impression  continued to be that plant language loss is increasing term-on-term. While there will always be statistical fluctuations in the knowledge set of a given class, this class seems weaker in their local language skills than any previous class.


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