Tiny Fern Could Help Fight Climate Change


Courtesy of Mother Nature Network

“A fern with leaves no larger than a gnat could be one of the most important plants on Earth.” according to researchers as reported by  MNN (Mother Nature Network).

This tiny water fern, known as Azolla filiculoides, could possibly take action in climate change. It absorbs nitrogen faster than the average plant, be a carbon sink, and ward insects off. Even though this fern sounds like any other plant, this piece of nature has an extraordinary use. In addition, it can be used as a fertilizer in rice paddies which has been used in Asia for over one thousand years because of its symbiotic relationship with the cyanobacteria Nostoc Azolla.

Now the answer to this well-known question, “How could this tiny fern make an impact on our vast problem of global warming?” The explanation, “Fossil records show that, fueled by abundant nitrogen and carbon dioxide, the fern formed thick mats across the entire bodies of water and crept onto the surrounding continents. Over the course of 1 million years, the plant pulled an estimated tens of trillions of tons of CO2 from the atmosphere, which scientists believe helped cool the planet to a climate more similar to what Earth has today.” according to Yale Environment 360.

This fern has a symbiotic relation with cyanobacteria, working together to collect nitrogen in the air and transform it into something that the fern and other plants could use. With Azolla filiculoides fern, this eliminates nitrogen-added fertilizers, which hurts the environment altogether. Not only does this fern take nitrogen out of the air, it also takes in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and contributing it to the cooling of the planet. Growing large amounts of these ferns can help contribute carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere to create cooling and potentially help climate change.