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[APD] Happy Year of the Red Pig

Happy New Year!

Some plant lore for the occasion.   People are being warned not to eat as it
contains toxins linked to Parkinson's disease and is becoming rare from over


Fat Choy (Nostoc flagelliforme)
In Chinese cuisine, "fat choy" in Cantonese or "fa cai" in Mandarin refer to
a black, hair-like vegetable served in China during festive seasons, such as
the Chinese Lunar New Year. It is eaten as a vegetable primarily because
"fat choy" reads the same as "strike a fortune," as one would find in
Chinese greetings such as "kung hei fat choy" or "wishing you the luck to
strike a fortune." This interesting vegetable comes from the black,
hair-like strands of Nostoc flagelliforme (Nostocaceae), a terrestrial
cyanobacterium native to northern China and other regions. Individual
strands appear dull greenish when wet, but dried strands resemble black
hair. A mass of strands is similar in size and shape to those of ordinary
steel wool. Each macroscopic strand (visible to the naked eye) is actually
composed of many microscopic, bead-like filaments of prokaryotic cells. This
cyanobacterium grows very slowly in desert steppe and in arid and semi-arid
regions of northern and northwestern China. According to Paul Pui-Hay But,
et al. (2002), it forms a matlike growth that binds to the substrate.


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