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Prehistoric Giant Swamp Taro (Cyrtosperma chamissonis) from Henderson Island, Southeast Polynesia

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Title:Prehistoric Giant Swamp Taro (Cyrtosperma chamissonis) from Henderson Island, Southeast Polynesia
Authors:Hather, Jon G.
Weisler, Marshall I.
Date Issued:Apr 2000
Publisher:University of Hawai'i Press
Citation:Hather JG, Weisler MI. 2000. Prehistoric giant swamp taro (Cyrtosperma chamissonis) from Henderson Island, southeast Polynesia. Pac Sci 54(2): 149-156.
Abstract:Subfossilleaf fragments of giant swamp taro (Cyrtosperma chamissonis)
were recovered from archaeological contexts dating as early as A.D.
1451 (mean date) on Henderson Island (24 0 22' S, 1280 19' W), Pitcairn
group-a raised limestone (makatea) island isolated at the extreme margin of
southeastern Polynesia and the Indo-West Pacific biotic province. Comparison
of subfossil specimens and modern reference material from a range of known
cultigens under scanning electron microscopy confirms the identification. A
period of active interarchipelago voyaging between A.D. 1000 and A.D. 1500 is
known from recent summaries of the geochemical analysis of exotic finegrained
basalt artifacts from archaeological sites throughout Polynesia. If not
an initial colonization, it is during this time that Cyrtosperma should have
been introduced prehistorically to most, if not all, of the inhabitable islands of
the region, especially those island groups lying to the west of Henderson. Investigation
of subfossil plant remains adds another dimension to understanding
plant distributions, prehistoric crop use, and subsistence practices in the Indo-Pacific
Appears in Collections: Pacific Science Volume 54, Number 2, 2000

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