Friday, May 4, 2012


Look at this very attractive cone of this Cycas micronesica. This is the time of cone production for this species of cycad which is found in Micronesia , the Marianas Group and the western Caroline Islands. As it is often the case, many things that look and feel beautiful can be deadly, and this can be deadly. The seeds of this cone are commonly thought, through a neurotoxin contained within them, to be linked with the human degenerative Lytico-Bodig disease, which is similar to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease.) Cycad seeds are a big part of the Chamorro lifestyle. The seeds from this species were ground to make a flour called "fadang", and the flour was then used to make tortillas and dumplings. Knowing the seeds are very toxic, the flour was cleaned several times before preparation for food. Unfortunately, the inhabitants of these islands also ate bats that, unbeknownst to them, fed on these seeds and the toxins were accumulated in the fat tissue with increased potency! Once the research came out, the practice of eating these seeds ceased in Guam in the 1960s! I am not sure whether eating bats continued The moral of this? Don't eat things that look pretty or don't eat things that eat things that look pretty! Deadly.

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