How to cite Botanical methods of prospecting involve the use of vegetation in searching for ore deposits. Although these methods have been used for several centuries, there is much confusion about terminology because there are two distinct methods of botanical prospecting. Geobotanical methods are visual and rely mainly on an interpretation of the plant cover to detect morphological changes or plant associations typical of certain types of geologic environments or of ore deposits within these environments. Geobotanical methods were first used in Roman times when vegetation was employed in the search for subterranean water. Later the Russian botanist Karpinsky became the first man to study thoroughly the relationship between plant communities and their geologic substrate. A number of books have appeared on the subject of
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The topic is introduced by Robert Temple in his publication The Genius of China as follows: The Chinese were the first people to notice and use the connection between the types of vegetation which grow in certain areas and the minerals to be found underground at the same localities.
The use of botanical observation in this way to find minerals is known as geobotanical prospecting. In modern times insufficient attention has been paid to this practice, and many of the ancient Chinese findings have not been investigated. There are, however, some widely recognized examples of plants which grow in soil too rich in certain minerals to be tolerated by other plants.
There is, for instance, a wild pansy Viola calarninaria which is zinc-loving, one per cent of its ash constituting zinc. Even more zinc-loving is the pennycress Thlaspi , 16 per cent of whose ash can constitute zinc. The tragacanth source of gum tragacanth, once widely used in pharmacy is quite insensitive to selenium in the soil, which poisons other plants. A particular type of grass Panicurn crusgalli indicates lead in the soil. There are several plants which indicate copper, and so on.
The oldest traces of this knowledge in China would seem to go back several centuries Be; but it is first found, substantiated by texts, in the third century m;. This plant cannot be identified with certainty; it could be a type of orchid, basil, hawthorn, or wild pear or plum, all of which have names somewhat similar to this archaic one. The origins of geobotanical prospecting in China go back to the preoccupation with the nature of different types of soil and their suitability for crops.
This text describes the natures of the soils in the different regions of China in terms which Needham has recently been able to demonstrate are technical to a degree not previously appreciated. It is therefore safe to assume that, although the primary interest was agricultural, geobotany was beginning by that time to be used for prospecting as well.
However, for the whole of Chinese history we are short of texts actually giving accounts of prospecting by these methods. Possibly the reason was secrecy. But it is also probable that such accounts as do survive still await discovery and are to be found in the thousands of old regional histories and gazetteers which have not [p. The Book of Master Wen, compiled about AD but containing material of the third century BC, says that in areas where jade is found, tree branches tend to droop.
It is clear that the Chinese noticed not merely the occurrences of certain plants, but their physiological condition, with relation to mineral deposits.
In the first half of the sixth century AD there were at least three manuals devoted entirely to systematic accounts of geobotanical mineral prospecting, and listing the varieties of plants and their associated minerals.
When in the mountains there is the hsiai plant [a kind of shallot], then below gold will be found. When in the mountains there is the ginger plant, then below copper and tin will be found. Definite awareness that mineral trace elements actually occurred in and could be extracted from certain plants is seen in the year in a book called Precious Secrets of the Realm of the Keng and Hsin symbols of metals and minerals. There we are told quite specifically that gold occurs in the rape turnip, silver in a type of weeping willow, lead and tin in mugwort, chestnut, barley, and wheat, and copper in the Indian sorrel Oxalis corniculata.
But perhaps it is copper rather than gold that assumes greater importance. Here the complexities of the Copper Trade intrude on an already controversial hypothesis, yet there can be little doubt about the antiquity of the subject, or its extension into the Pacific Northwest.
It is perhaps not that well known just how pure some of the copper deposits from certain areas of North America were - so pure in fact that they could be directly hammered into sheets.
As for the Northern Regions, names such as Coppermine in the Central Arctic and the Copper River in southwest Alaska are common-place, while the Canadian Shield is again recognized for both its variety and its mineral richness - not merely copper, but Gold, Silver, Tin, Lead and Zinc. Here access could feasibly have been via Hudson Bay rivers e.
As for the "Copper Trade" in our present context, that takes on entirely new dimensions in the Pacific Northwest - primarily as an indicator of wealth in a land of plenty, e. Temple, Robert. In otherwords, as an example; a specific plant in eastern China is found only in that location and nowhere else. It is specific to a local microclimate. However, as another example; a plant from a specific latitude both north and south of the equator can, in most cases, be transplanted on all continents in the same latitude.
Many plants from Africa, Australia, China, Japan and other similar regions have been introduced to the America Continent and thrive quite well. Instead of growing as a closed grained hardwood, the resultant growth is a stringy fiberous wood. Many elements will determine exact growth habits such as rainfall, soil types, etc.
In San Diego, the Torrey Pine, a slow grower may obtain 40 to 60 feet. In Australia, the same tree is a rapid grower to double the California height.
Books A "most faithful" indicator plant is Ocimum centraliafricanum , the "copper plant" or "copper flower" formerly known as Becium homblei, found only on copper and nickel containing soils in central to southern Africa. It is well known for its tolerance of high levels of copper in the soil, and is even used by geologists prospecting for precious metals. In , Stephen E. Haggerty identified Pandanus candelabrum as a botanical indicator for kimberlite pipes, a source of mined diamonds. He served as a principal investigator in the U. Apollo and the Soviet Luna sample return programs. The metallic mineral known as "haggertyite" is named in his honor.