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Re: Aquatic Plants Digest V2 #937

> Date: Fri, 5 Sep 1997 22:51:34 -0400 (EDT)
> From: Tetra59057 at aol_com
> I am the 9th grader who posted the question about what type of plant i had,
> and if laterite was a hard packed rainforest soil.  Because I know most of
> you don't like to reply to people that don't state their names.  Although i
> don't understand you're reasons for this i will give my name because i need
> some replies.
> Stephen Martin in houston Texas

Hi, Steve.  Yes, laterite is a hard-packed rainforest soil.  It occurs in
hot climates where there is high rainfall.  Most of these soils are very
old, and millions of years of rain have leached out all but the most insoluble
materials, mostly alumina and iron oxide.  The iron makes these soils red.
The last stage in this process is bauxite, which is even lower in iron.
It is used as aluminum ore.

Unlike temperate climate soils, especially "new" ones derived from ice age
deposits, laterites lack important plant nutrients such as potassium,
phosphorus, calcium and magnesium.  Rain forests look very lush, but most
of the plant nutrients are in the living plants and a thin layer of dead
leaves, etc on the ground.  When these forests are cleared and burned, the
nutrients are quickly washed away and the soil is exposed to sunlight which
bakes it into a brick-like material.  After a few years, this soil will
support very little in the way of plants. It also erodes easily in the rain,
which destroys aquatic habitats by choking out plants and ruining breeding
areas for fish.  Most temperate climate soils can be rehabilitated, because
new plant nutrients can be released from clay particles, but laterites don't
have these reserves, so when they are dead, they are pretty much dead for keeps.

Some people feel that if people don't use their real names, they are
likely to be irresponsible about what they say.  If they mean what they
say, they should be willing to sign their real name to it.

I hope this helps.