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Root coat of the tree ferns

Many species of tree ferns attain a height of well over 10 meters. To stabilise their trunks, taller tree ferns cannot thicken their stems like normal trees. Instead they enlarge the diameter of their stems with a dense coat of tough, wire-like roots, that sprout from lower part of the stem. This root coat can grow very thick indeed, and even has commercial importance.

Sawed into slices, it is sold under its Brazilian name, “Xaxim”, or the term used in Mexico, “Maquique”. It’s coveted by gardeners as a medium for cultivating orchids and bromeliads, as its fibers are very solidly intertwined, decay very slowly, and allow water to drain easily. In general, only tree ferns at least half a century old are useful for producing Xaxim. Thanks to overexploitation and the ongoing destruction of the tree ferns‘ natural habitats, the sale of Xaxim has been internationally banned since 1995. Bromeliad and orchid fanciers have been forced to find alternatives, like mixtures of coconut fiber and bark.

Audio file download
Root coat of the tree ferns (MP3, 512 KB)

Audio production and copyright: Soundgarden Audioguidance GmbH
Text: Andreas Gröger, Botanischer Garten München-Nymphenburg

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