Plants that soften stone?

glh8180 at glh8180 at
Wed Feb 1 22:58:45 EST 1995

In article <1995Jan27.085622.20694 at>, ae954 at (richard nisbet) writes:
>I'm not a botanist, so please don't get in a snit over my
>ignorance.   I am working on a book on the Peruvian Stoneworks.
>From the time of the Spanish Chroniclers (mid 1500's) there have
>been theories and legends that the incredibly accurate fit of 
>their masonry was accomplished with a plant that had the 
>capability of softening stone.
	Yes, it is possible. Some plants that are ecologically adapted to life
in rock crevices (and this is a common phenomenon among alpine plants) secrete
acids to soften the rock. Thus they gain a greater foothold in their niche. It
may well be possible that the Peruvians knew of a few such plants from
observation. However, I apologize for not being able to give you any exact
species as I do not know the flora of the Andes.

Lidia A. Hess                *   That weakness overcomes strength
PSES/College of Ag           *   And gentleness overcomes rigidity
MSU Bozeman MT               *   No one does not know*   Yet no one puts into practice...Lao Tzu

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