'Delta bulrush' plant could help ease oil spill crisis: Botanist

     The delta bulrush plant has natural properties that could reduce the impact of the Gulf spill, according to an eminent botanist. Dr. Alfred Ernest Schuyler, the Academy's curator emeritus of botany, said that the plant Scirpus deltarum or delta bulrush has detoxification properties that could decompose the oil and protect the marsh plants. According to Schuyler, the common three-square (Schoenoplectus pungens), can transmit oxygen to underwater microorganisms capable of decomposing oil. "Air cavities in the stems transport oxygen to underwater portions of the plants, making the oxygen available to microbes capable of decomposing pollutants in the sewage," Schuyler said. The botanist added that these plants are more tolerant of oil than any other but it is too soon to estimate how much oil is too much for the delta bulrushes. If the oil were to cover the plants, Schuyler recommends harvesting them just below the oil line.

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