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Microbotanical remains reveal Polynesian agriculture and mixed cropping in early New Zealand

by admin last modified 2008-03-25 01:59 PM

Horrocks M, Shane PA, Barber IG, D’Costa DM, Nichol SL. 2004. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 131, 147-157.


We present direct microbotanical evidence from New Zealand of the prehistoric cultivation of four introduced Polynesian plants. Pollen, phytoliths, starch grains and xylem of bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria), paper mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera), sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) and taro (Colocasia esculenta) have been identified. The microremains are from a range of locations (spanning 600 km) and were found in a variety of depositional settings, including sediment cores, and prehistoric agricultural structures and coprolites. The data identify combinations of early Polynesian crops, including both field- and tree-cropping systems, and provide the first direct field evidence of prehistoric taro cultivation in the South Island.


Microbotanical remains, prehistoric agriculture, Polynesia, New Zealand.

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