The plant that softens stone.

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posted on Apr, 21 2011 @ 05:27 PM
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I recently read the account of Colonal Fawcett's exploration of South America - 'Journey to the Lost City of Z'. This thread isn't about him or his explorations, however, but just one thing that he comments on in his account. The journals are peppered with his observations on natural history and this involves one of those observations. From pp75 -77...


.. Talking of birds, all through the Peruvian and Bolivian Montana is to be found a small bird like a kingfisher, which makes its nest in neat round holes in the rocky escarpment above the river. These holes can plainly be seen, but are not usually accessible, and strangely enough they are found only where the birds are present. I once expressed surprise that they were lucky enough to find nesting-holes conveniently placed for them, and so neatly hollowed out - as though with a drill.
"They make the holes themselves." The words were spoken by a man who had spent a quarter of a century in the forests. "I've seen how they do it, many a time. I've watched, I have, and seen the birds come to the cliff with leaves of some sort in their beaks, and cling to the rock like woodpeckers to a tree while they rubbed the leaves in a circular motion over the surface. Then they would fly off, and come back with more leaves, and carry on with the rubbing process. After three or four repetitions they dropped the leaves and started pecking at the place with their sharp beaks, and - here's the marvellous part - they would soon open out a round hole in the stone. Then off they'd go again, and go through the rubbing process with leaves several times before continuing to peck. It took several days, but finally they had opened out holes deep enough to contain their nests. I've climbed up and taken a look at them, and, believe me, a man couldn't drill a neater hole!"
"Do you mean to say that the bird's beak can penetrate solid rock?"
"A woodpecker's beak penetrates solid wood, doesn't it? ...No, I don't think the bird can get through solid rock. I believe, as everyone who has watched them believes, that those birds know of a leaf with juice that can soften up rock till it's like wet clay."


Fawcett relates that at first he dismissed it as a "tall tale", then after hearing further accounts, as a "popular tradition" but eventually he heard another story that convinced him of the existance of this plant that can soften rock. This later story involved a man wearing spurs who, having lost his horse, was forced to walk some distance and passed through thick bush to find on the other side that his spurs had been eaten away. On discussing the matter, this man was informed that what had eaten his spurs away was the wide patch of growth of a certain plant "about a foot high, with dark reddish leaves" that he had passed through. He was told "... That's the stuff the Incas used for shaping stones. The juice will soften rock up till it's like paste. ..."

Much later in the journals Colonel Fawcett returned to the subject of this plant. On page 252, Fawcett is discussing the Incan Empire and states "I have heard it said that they fitted their stones together by means of a liquid that softened the surfaces to be joined to the consistency of clay." He then recounts the following in a footnote.


Another friend of mine told me the following story:
"Some years ago, when I was working in the mining camp at Cerro de Pasco (a place 14,000 feet up in the Andes of Central Peru), I went out one Sunday with some other Gringos to visit some old Inca or Pre-Inca graves - to see if we could find anything worthwhile. We took our grub with us, and, of course, a few bottles of pisco and beer; and a peon - a cholo - to help dig.
"Well, we had our lunch when we got to the burial place, and afterwards started in to open up some graves that seemed to be untouched. We worked hard, and knocked off every now and then for a drink. I don't drink myself, but the others did, especially one chap who poured too much pisco into himself and was inclined to be noisy. When we knocked off, all we had found was an earthenware jar of about a quart capacity, and with liquid inside it.
" 'I bet it's chicha! said the noisy one. 'Let's try it and see what sort of stuff the Incas drank!'
" 'Probably poison us if we do,' observed another.
" 'Tell you what, then - let's try it on the peon!'
"They dug the seal and stopper out of the jar's mouth, sniffed at the contents and called the peon over to them.
" 'Take a drink of this chicha,' ordered the drunk. The peon took the jar, hesitated, and then with an expression of fear spreading over his face thrust it into the drunk's hands and backed away.
" 'No, no, senor,' he murmured. 'Not that. That's not chicha!' He turned and made off.
"The drunk put the jar down on a flat-topped rock and set off in pursuit. 'Come on, boys - catch him!' he yelled. They caught the wretched man, dragged him back, and ordered him to drink the contents of the jar. The peon struggled madly, his eyes popping. There was a bit of a scrimmage, and the jar was knocked over and broken, its contents forming a puddle on the top of the rock. Then the peon broke free and took to his heels.
"Everyone laughed. It was a huge joke. But the exercise had made them thirsty and they went over to the sack where the beer-bottles lay.
"About ten minutes later I bent over the rock and casually examined the pool of spilled liquid. It was no longer liquid; the whole patch where it had been, and the rock under it, were as soft as wet cement! It was as though the stone had melted, like wax under the influence of heat."


(I don't want to get into anything else to do with these accounts other than the plant and it's effect & usage, that is what this thread is about, the accounts are of their time as we can see.)

Well, that is all that I have been able to find so far in reference to this plant.

To summarise - it is described as growing around a foot tall and has dark reddish leaves, and is found in Peru and Bolivia. The leaves are utilised by a particular bird to create its nesting holes in the stone escarpment above rivers. It was reputedly used by the ancient peoples of the region to soften stone to create neat fitting joints for construction. According to the accounts, it may also swiftly corrode metal.
I am also minded of the Mitchell-Hedges crystal skull and I wonder whether, if it exists, the plant could have been used to shape such an artefact as that.

Please - has anyone else ever heard of such a plant from any other source? Or if not, I would still be most interested in your thoughts and comments.

Thanks in advance.

Peace
J
edit on 21-4-2011 by skjalddis because: (no reason given)
edit on 21-4-2011 by skjalddis because: typos




posted on Apr, 21 2011 @ 05:37 PM
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Wow! Thank you for the fascinating story! I've heard of softening the stone from ancient aliens but this is the first of a plant juice being the key to doing so! This sounds like some interesting research to be done.

S&F!



posted on Apr, 21 2011 @ 05:38 PM
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reply to post by skjalddis
 

Nice detail, I find that very interesting to say the least. I would love to see it really working. Might be good for destroying Giants bones!!! Sounds like some kind of natural acid that works in its own particular way.
Thanks again




posted on Apr, 21 2011 @ 05:40 PM
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I am sorry i have not heard of a plant like that,but it wouldent suprise if such a plant existed, lets hope it has gone extinct due to deforestoration or similar plagues.
edit on 21-4-2011 by GoldenGolem because: (no reason given)


+1 more 
posted on Apr, 21 2011 @ 05:46 PM
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If it softens rock, then why not the bird's beaks?
Is it that specific that it will only soften rock?
Hmm..



posted on Apr, 21 2011 @ 05:49 PM
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reply to post by skjalddis
 


Very cool





posted on Apr, 21 2011 @ 05:55 PM
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Thankyou for your comments so far


I would really like to research this some more. This was the first I had ever heard of such a plant, but it seems to me that it is a well kept secret if it still exists. Unfortunately, there isn't much in the way of botanical detail to follow up. The use of the plant by the birds to make nesting holes is a distinctive feature and might be the key to identifying possible species. My worry is, as already pointed out, that it may have gone extinct over the last century, and if so, the birds that used it may have followed it. I was rather hoping that someone may have heard similar stories, perhaps from folklore or literature from the region or elsewhere.

peace
J



posted on Apr, 21 2011 @ 06:08 PM
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I found something about it.
The process is called chelation.
It's how roots penetrate rock.
richardgrigonis.com...

Quote taken from article--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

We have now found out what the plant is, what the leaf is, and it’s quite well known. It’s a very common plant. As a matter of fact, we use it for ornamental purposes. You can buy it in the stores, in a florist’s in New York. The Latin name escapes me, but its got ordinary sort of rather spongy-looking red leaves–it’s red and purple instead of being green. It has a substance in it that is a very strong alkali and not an acid.

We found out that the process is quite well known, it’s called chelation. It’s well known to all botanists, and it is nothing else but the simple natural process by which the roots of plants dissolve rock. Look out of this window here, I mean we have a picture window here, and all of these trees growing around the house. The way these trees can put their tap roots right down through the soil, into the subsoil, right through that, and maybe into solid rock, is called chelation. The little tiny ends of the soft roots, the very tips, dissolve the stone and soften it. Then they move in, drag all the moisture out and pump it up to make the leaves and everything else. It’s an enormous industry now in this country



posted on Apr, 21 2011 @ 06:09 PM
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reply to post by reticledc
 


I wondered about that, but it is possible that they have developed some kind of natural defence to it, perhaps something that neutralises the effect. I think this use of the plant by these birds may be the thing to research into first as the most likely to throw up further leads. I wouldn't be surprised to find zoological descriptions of the activity of the birds that are clueless about this feature of the nature of the plants that they use, that is one of the things these days with scientists and other professionals that they are too specialised and seem to learn little of fields of research outside their own.

peace
J



posted on Apr, 21 2011 @ 06:11 PM
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Got a link/source OP?



posted on Apr, 21 2011 @ 06:17 PM
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reply to post by Ear-Responsible
 


I gave the source in the first post - it is a book. I gave the page numbers.

www.amazon.com...


peace
J



posted on Apr, 21 2011 @ 06:22 PM
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reply to post by kdog1982
 


Well found!

And I am so glad to hear that it is not extinct!


(TBH I was still figuring out a suitable search string for a web search.. :-s )

That is a very interesting item that you have found, I'll have a good read through this. Many thanks!

peace
J



posted on Apr, 21 2011 @ 06:23 PM
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great story, just wondering why the liquid in the Earthenware jar would not turn this also back to a soft permeable state where either the liquid escaped or turned the jar and surrounding ground rocks into the wet cement type state it supposedly is able to do.
maybe it only effects certain classes of rock or stone and not all.



posted on Apr, 21 2011 @ 07:24 PM
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reply to post by skjalddis
 

You are welcome.
That Ivan T. Sanderson was the ATS of his day.
But he went into the field,not behind a computer.



posted on Apr, 21 2011 @ 07:29 PM
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Originally posted by kdog1982
We have now found out what the plant is, what the leaf is, and it’s quite well known. It’s a very common plant. As a matter of fact, we use it for ornamental purposes. You can buy it in the stores, in a florist’s in New York. The Latin name escapes me, but its got ordinary sort of rather spongy-looking red leaves–it’s red and purple instead of being green. It has a substance in it that is a very strong alkali and not an acid.



That is an interesting item and he does give a little more info, unfortunately, he doesn't give a name for the plant. I have done a bit of digging around but I still haven't managed to identify it. He does say that it is very common so this hadn't ought to be that difficult to figure out. Perhaps I should just pop into a florist and see what they have that has red spongy-looking leaves.


Oh well, it is late here, I shall come back to this tomorrow.

thankyou all for your posts

peace
J



posted on Apr, 21 2011 @ 08:04 PM
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I found some stuff on the chelation process,which can dissolve metals,
en.wikipedia.org...

also this,softening stones with plant extracts
caniyoumyime.com...
And I'm still searching......



posted on Apr, 22 2011 @ 12:26 AM
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Originally posted by reticledc
If it softens rock, then why not the bird's beaks?
Is it that specific that it will only soften rock?
Hmm..


Huh?

The birds beak and the rock are two totally different materials. What makes you think they would react the same way to the juice?


edit on 22-4-2011 by polarwarrior because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 22 2011 @ 12:46 AM
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Hmm wow, I wonder what would be the benefits of this plant?



posted on Apr, 22 2011 @ 12:51 AM
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reply to post by skjalddis
 


I really love plants and I like to think of myself as a very well informed novice. Everyone with a field of interest typically narrows it down to 2 or 3 things that they know a lot about. Between a close friend and I we know a lot about weird plants and neither of us has heard of this. Neither has Google seemingly.

Maybe it would be more profitable to look in to the bird?

Thanks for the amazing story and a great thread.



posted on Apr, 22 2011 @ 01:00 AM
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Wow thats crazy i have never heard of such a leaf but it would be great if we could find it and examine it.





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