Mark D Merlin

Mark D Merlin
University of Hawai'i System · Botany, University of Hawaii at Manoa

PhD
Teaching at the University of Hawaii

About

95
Publications
89,888
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Introduction
My research has focused on the cultural histories of human-plant interactions with special emphasis on the pan-global, traditional use of psychoactive species. I also study the human impact on native vegetation in tropical island ecosystems, both past and present, with a general interest in the natural history of Remote Oceania. My most important career object has been to contribute to and foster environmental education and preservation of traditional ecological and ethnobotanical knowledge
Additional affiliations
August 1980 - present
University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Position
  • Professor (Full)
Education
August 1975 - June 1979
University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Field of study
  • Geography
August 1970 - June 1972
University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Field of study
  • Geography
August 1963 - June 1967

Publications

Publications (95)
Article
Full-text available
Abundant ancient seeds of plants in the genus Melilotus have been concurrently unearthed with grain crops and livestock bones from the Keyakekuduke beacon tower of the Tang Dynasty (AD 618–907) in Xinjiang, northwest China. This is the first time that a high concentration of Melilotus seeds has been found in archaeobotanical records in Xinjiang. Co...
Book
Full-text available
Today, the body of ecological knowledge created in Micronesia over the millennia is threatened and being lost by the impact of globalization and other effects of modern technology. And yet, this knowledge remains as relevant as ever. Its extraordinary legacy is that it has always been and endures as the base of community resilience and sustainable...
Presentation
The small, far flung islands of Micronesia are located in the northwestern tropical Pacific Ocean region. Within the last few thousand years, fishing and farming people with expert sailing skills discovered and colonized these high and low islands. Progressively, the indigenous societies transformed parts of the islands largely by introducing usefu...
Article
Full-text available
Documentation exists for very widespread traditional human consumption of psychoactive drug materials over thousands of years. However, the worldwide chronology, biological diversity, and geographical range of human use of mind‐altering drug substances are neither complete nor unchangeable. Numerous psychoactive species of plants and fungi, and the...
Article
Full-text available
Breadfruit species (Artocarpus altilis and A. altilis × A. mariannensis) have been an important food and material resource for many Pacific Island societies for centuries, and have traditionally been a primary staple for many small islands and atolls. Domesticated by Near Oceania peoples several thousand years ago, breadfruit was spread throughout...
Presentation
The terminology and taxonomy of Capsicum is confusing. Various common names such as chili, pepper, capsicum, etc. are used interchangeably when referring to the cultivated peppers, C. annuum L. and C. frutescens L., of which there are many diverse cultivars. Provisionally, chili peppers here refer to either of these two Capsicum species, or one not...
Presentation
Session 8: How can we build island communities that are resilient to the impacts of climate change and environmental hazards?
Chapter
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Anatomically modern humans are now believed to have arrived in Eurasia as much as 80,000- 120,000 years ago (e.g., see Callaway 2015), and in bands of hunters and gatherers these early people moved east and west progressively across this massive landmass. In the process of spreading out over this vast continental region, they developed very ancient...
Chapter
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Mind-altering substances have been used by humans for thousands of years. In fact, ancient societies sometimes encouraged the consumption of drugs. Focusing on the archaeological study of how various entheogens have been used in the past, this volume examines why humans have social and psychological needs for these substances. Contributors trace th...
Chapter
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Over the vast time span within which humans have known and used Cannabis for many purposes, it has been heralded as one of our supreme resources and cursed as one of our utmost burdens. Today the consumption of mind-altering Cannabis plant material for recreational or medicinal reasons is widely known. However, the original and early use of psychoa...
Book
Full-text available
Local plants and traditional knowledge about them and their environments have provided vital resources and have sustained many generations of Marshallese. Like comparable books about the islands of the Federated States of Micronesia (see Plants and Peoples of Yap), this book introduces learners and everyone interested in the islands to local plants...
Chapter
Full-text available
Hypothetical early human contact with cannabis and subsequent discovery and application of its useful resources took place during the distant past in one of the more temperate and well-watered areas of ancient Central Asia; and it is in this broad region of Eurasia that the ancient burial sites highlighted in this study were constructed many thousa...
Article
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The intellectual careers of Dr. Ernest Small and this reviewer have crossed a number of times over the past half century. Small received a doctorate in plant evolution from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1969. Since then, he has been an employee of the Research Branch of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, where he presently holds the...
Presentation
Pandanus tectorius Parkinson (senso lato), is a widespread small tree found in the tropics, in coastal strand habitats and sometimes inland on low elevation slopes of moderately wet to wet valleys up to about 600 meters. Its native range extends from Australia through parts of mainland and insular Southeast Asia into both Near and Remote Oceania. T...
Article
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With the resurgence of interest in cannabis, forfiber, oil,and drug uses, we now can realistically look forward toconsider future needs required to establish it as a moderncrop. With the anticipation of future funding opportuni-ties, it is likely that many avenues for its further domesti-cation will become available. Here, we have asked theexperts...
Article
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A well-preserved outer coffin, several hundred years old, was discovered under waterlogged conditions in the ancient Qian Zhang Tomb located within Wuxi, an old eastern Chinese city in southern part of Jiangsu Province. Wood anatomy was employed to identify the tree species used to build this ancient outer coffin. The results showed it was construc...
Article
Full-text available
Humans and the Cannabis plant share an intimate history spanning millennia. Humans spread Cannabis from its Eurasian homelands throughout much of the world, and, in concert with local climatic and human cultural parameters, created traditional landrace varieties (cultivars resulting from a combination of natural and farmer selection) with few appar...
Article
Full-text available
An extraordinary cache of ancient, well-preserved Cannabis plant remains was recently discovered in a tomb in the Jiayi cemetery of Turpan, NW China. Radiometric dating of this tomb and the archeobotanical remains it contained indicate that they are approximately 2800–2400 years old. Both morphological and anatomical features support the identifica...
Presentation
s the American Revolutionary War (1771-1781) progressed, imported hemp (Cannabis sativa) became costly. This encouraged domestic production of this fiber crop in the colonies. In 1775, Cannabis seeds for fiber cultivation were introduced into Kentucky, which would develop into the center of the U.S. hemp industry. However, Russian hemp continued to...
Article
Full-text available
Marijuana and hemp (Cannabis) and the closely related hop genus (Humulus) are the only widely known genera included in the small, but economically valuable, Cannabaceae family. Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus, the “father of modern taxonomy,” first published the scientific name Cannabis sativa in his seminal Species Plantarum of 1753. The Latin name...
Article
Full-text available
Few plant genera have received as much attention concerning their taxonomy and domestication as Cannabis. “Solving the taxonomy puzzle” is important for botanical, agricultural, legal, political and medical reasons (Lausen, 2015). However, for the authors of this rebuttal, resolving the issue of one or more species is not as fascinating as understa...
Presentation
Initial arrivals of Cannabis in the African continent via human agency appear to have occurred relatively late after people had spread out of Central Asia through Southwest Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean regions. These early arrivals probably involved drug plant varieties of C. indica, rather than fiber varieties of C. sativa. By 1500 C.E., C....
Presentation
Ephedra species have an ancient history of use in Eurasia, especially but not entirely in the arid areas of this huge region. More recently, archaeological and archaeobotanical evidence, along with deeper understanding of relevant written records, have provided us with additional insight into the traditi...
Presentation
Full-text available
Ephedra species have an ancient history of use in Eurasia, especially but not entirely in the arid areas of this huge region. More recently, archaeological and archaeobotanical evidence, along with deeper understanding of relevant written records, have provided us with additional insight into the traditional utilization of this of genus of unusual...
Article
Full-text available
Identification of Cannabis Fiber from the Astana Cemeteries, Xinjiang, China, with Reference to Its Unique Decorative Utilization: In the Turpan District of Xinjiang, China, large numbers of ancient clay figurines, with representations including equestrians, animals, and actors, have been excavated from the Astana Cemeteries and date from about the...
Article
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Pritchardia (loulu palms) are a significant part of Hawaiian forest communities, occurring in many types of environments including coastal areas, dry windward and high precipitation leeward forests, as well as high-elevation sites (Hodel, 2007). Pritchardia palm species are found today on islands in the western Pacific, including those of Cook, Ma...
Book
Full-text available
Cannabis: Evolution and Ethnobotany is a comprehensive, interdisciplinary exploration of the natural origins and early evolution of this famous plant, highlighting its historic role in the development of human societies. Cannabis has long been prized for the strong and durable fiber in its stalks, its edible and oil-rich seeds, and the psychoactive...
Presentation
Full-text available
Although agriculture reached the British Isles about 7,000 years ago, Cannabis and the cultivation of this annual, resource-rich plant was not grown for its bast fiber, seed, and medicinal value until thousands of years later, possibly as early as the Bronze Age, but almost certainly by late Roman times. Subsequently, hemp farming appears to have b...
Article
Full-text available
I first became aware of the presence of entheogenic mushrooms as occurring on the Island of Fiji after reading a private communication written to R. Gordon Wasson concerning an accidental ingestion of psilocybian mushrooms. The letter was written in response to Wasson’s May 13, 1957 and June 10 (International Edition) of a Life Magazine publication...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The rapacious 19th century commercial exploitation of sandalwood species in the Pacific region was a relatively short term phenomena that had significant ecological and social impact on the isolated islands where it took place. The oil-rich heartwood of these plants was gathered by Western traders because it was one of the few commodities that Chin...
Chapter
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Chapter
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Wood from the Hawaiian and South Pacific sandalwoods traditionally had a diversity of uses such as carving, medicine, insect repellent when burnt (St. John 1947), and fuel (Wagner 1986). The grated wood was used to a limited extent to scent coconut oil (for application to the hair and body) and cultural artifacts such as tapa cloth (Krauss 1993; Ke...
Article
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Prosopis pallida and P. juliflora (commonly referred to as algarroba, mesquite, orkiawe) were introduced from South America to areas in Oceania, Asia, and Africa during the early nineteenth century. In many cases, they naturalized and became widespread. In some places, alien Prosopis species are highly valued for the products and services that they...
Article
Full-text available
For many centuries, the kava plant, Piper methysticum, a series of sterile clones of a truly wild Piper species, has been used in several high islands in remote Oceania, including Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia. Until modern times, its use on all of these islands was largely restricted to chiefly, priestly, and medicinal use. Because...
Article
Full-text available
Oceanic is an extensive subgroup that contains about 460 of the roughly 1,200 Austronesian languages. As originally conceived, the volume under review was to be the third of five volumes, and was to focus on the lexicon of both plants and animals of Proto-Oceanic, the hypothetical ancestor of the Oceanic languages that entered the western Pacific f...
Book
Endangered Plants and Threatened Ecosystems on the Island of Hawaii has just been released and is available at island bookstores. The full color, 64 page volume is co-authored by UHH Geography and Environmental Studies professor James Juvik along with recent UHH Geography graduates John Delay and Kealoha Kinney. Other book co-authors include UH Man...
Article
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A group of 44 people from ethnobotany and associated disciplines participated in an Ethnobotanical Summit at the National Tropical Botanical Garden in Kaua‘i on 27-30 January 2007. Considering the grave environmental crisis facing the world today, the loss of biodiversity and the loss of culture, the group decided to issue a statement to stress the...
Article
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Curcuma longa L., the turmeric plant, is a fully domesticated species, which is thought to have originated and spread widely from South Asia. This cultigen was also transported very early by ancient voyagers to many tropical areas beyond its original homeland, from Madagascar in the west to numerous tropical Pacific islands in the east. Its present...
Chapter
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The kava plant, Piper methysticum Forst. f., is an attractive shrub in the pepper family, Piperaceae (figure 12.1). Known by various names in tropical Pacific, such as yagona, kava, kava kava, ’awa, seka, and sakau, it is propagated vegetatively, as are most of the traditional crops in the region. Kava has been used for many centuries to produce ps...
Article
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We live in an age when a divine vision is dismissed as an hallucination, and desire to experience a direct communication with god is often interpreted as a sign of mental illness. Nevertheless, some scholars and scientists assert that such visions and communications are fundamentally derived from an ancient and ongoing cultural tradition. The hypot...
Article
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Western and other scholars have traditionally divided the massive Pacific region beyond Southeast Asia and Australia into three subregions or categories: Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. More recently, with the elucidation of a suite of characteristics (e.g. linguistics, pottery, island location in the remote, deep Pacific Ocean), Green (1991)...
Article
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The author of The Green Republic does a thorough and excellent job of documenting how Costa Ricans altered their environment over the last few hundred years. Evans goes into great detail discussing such changes during the last century, with special emphasis on the cadre of expatriate conservationists that played a crucial role. Basically the enviro...
Article
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Ethnobotany has had a relatively short history as a scientific or scholarly discipline, and according to R. L. Ford still lacks a unifying theory. In this paper the history of ethnobotany in Remote Oceania is reviewed. In sequence, the roots of Pacific ethnobotany in European exploration and colonial expansion are discussed, then the contributions...
Book
Full-text available
The purpose of this booklet is to encourage the young people of the Marshall Islands to pursue careers in environmental science and conservation, with the further goals of sustainable natural resource use and preservation of biodiversity in the Pacific. The text aims to make these topics relevant by focusing on the environments of the Marshall Isla...
Book
Full-text available
The purpose of this booklet is to encourage the young people of the Federated States of Micronesia to pursue careers in environmental science and conservation, with the further goal of sustainable natural resource use and preservation of biodiversity in the Pacific. The text aims to make these topics relevant by focusing on the environments of Yap...
Book
Full-text available
The purpose of this booklet is to encourage the young people of the Federated States of Micronesia to pursue careers in environmental science and conservation, with the further goal of sustainable natural resource use and preservation of biodiversity in the Pacific. The text aims to make these topics relevant by focusing on the environments of Chuu...
Chapter
In the Pacific region, tropical montane cloud forest (TMCF) typically occurs as small and isolated patches on the rugged upland ridges and peaks of high volcanic islands. In addition to copious amounts of orographic rainfall, these forests receive substantial “horizontal precipitation” through direct canopy interception of wind-driven cloud water....
Article
Full-text available
Several specimens of Psilocybe and Copelandia species in Koh Samui, Thailand were recently collected for herbarium deposit and scientific study. This paper presents an ethnomycological and biochemical study of one of the species; P. samuiensis Guzmán, Bandala and Allen, a new psychoactive gill fungus reported from Thailand. Mycelium for the cultiva...
Article
Full-text available
Several fungi species collected in the Hawaiian Islands have been reported to be psychoactive. Previous chemical analyses together with the present study indicate that 5 coprophilous and one non-coprophilous species occurring in the islands are now known to contain psychoactive alkaloids. At least some of these species are consumed in the Hawaiian...
Book
Full-text available
The purpose of this booklet is to encourage the young people of the Federated States of Micronesia to pursue careers in environmental science and conservation, with the further goal of sustainable natural resource use and preservation of biodiversity in the Pacific. The text aims to make these topics relevant by focusing on the environments of Kosr...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Santalum has a disjunct known distribution among the islands or the Pacific Ocean. During the prehistoric period. Melanesian and Polynesian Islanders. who had access to native sandalwood trees and shrubs, utilized the aromatic heartwood for a variety of medicinal and other purposes. Some uses had significant social import,motivating trade of Santal...
Book
Full-text available
The most comprehensive book ever written on nature's most effective stress-relieving plant - Kava by Yale University Press. This complete guide to kava summarizes the literature and research on a plant that is now considered comparable or superior to anti-stress prescription drugs, and describes its use in the religious, political, and economic li...
Article
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This paper presents the results of recent ethnomycological exploration in southern Thailand. Field observations, interviews and collection of fungi specimens were carried out primarily on two islands, Koh Samui and Koh Pha-ngan, situated in the western region of the Gulf of Siam. Some fieldwork was also conducted in the northern Thai province of Ch...
Article
Full-text available
We examined woody species composition and its relation to environmental variables in native forest growing on four limestone islands in the southern Cook Islands: Atiu, Mangaia, Ma'uke, and Miti'aro. Relative dominance (percent basal area) of woody species in 74 sites was sampled using the point-centered quarter method, and the data were analyzed u...
Article
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The native plants of remote tropical islands have been frequently characterized as poor competitors against seemingly more aggressive alien species. Does this "weak competitor" characterization relate to some real adaptive consequences of island isolation and endemism, or does the generally concurrent presence of introduced ungulates and other form...
Article
Full-text available
Recent ethnomycological investigations on the islands of Koh Samui and Koh Pha-ngan in the Gulf of Siam, Thailand (Allen & Merlin 1992) revealed that many restaurants were offering food items containing psychoactive mushrooms known as hed keekwai. In English this refers to a "mushroom which appears after water buffalo defecates." The hed keekwai mu...
Book
Full-text available
The purpose of this booklet is to encourage the young people of the Federated States of Micronesia to pursue careers in environmental science and conservation, with the further goal of sustainable natural resource use and preservation of biodiversity in the Pacific. The text aims to make these topics relevant by focusing on the environments of Pohn...
Article
Full-text available
A comprehensive review is presented of the recreational and accidental ingestion of psychoactive mushrooms in Australia and New Zealand; 15 recognized species are considered from Australia and eight from New Zealand. Common epithets, potency levels, and methods of ingestion are discussed. Legal aspects involving the use of these psychoactive fungi...
Article
Full-text available
Mangaia, the second largest (51.8 km2 ) of the Cook Islands, has a central, volcanic region with a maximum elevation of 169 m above sea level. The igneous interior is surrounded by an extensive formation of elevated coral limestone as much as 2 km wide and 70 m above sea level. Although the native vegetation in the volcanic interior has been altere...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Adaptive radiation of Santalum in the Hawaiian archipelago has provided these remote islands with a number of endemic species and var ieties. The prehistoric Polynesian inhabitants of Hawai‘i utilized the sandalwood trees for man y of the same traditional purposes as their South Pacific ancestors who had developed ethnobotanical relationships with...
Book
Full-text available
The purpose of this booklet is to encourage yourg Belauans to pursue careers in environmental. science arxi conservation, with the furtller goal of preserving biodiversity in the Pacific. The text aims to make these topics relevant by focusing on the envirornnents of Belau and using Belauan examples to illustrate scientific concepts. Cultural diver...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Adaptive radiation of Santalum in the Hawaiian archipelago has provided these remote islands with a number of endemic species and var ieties. The prehistoric Polynesian inhabitants of Hawai‘i utilized the sandalwood trees for man y of the same traditional purposes as their South Pacific ancestors who had developed ethnobotanical relationships with...
Article
Full-text available
With the recent identification of a deadly agaric Amanita virosa (Fr.) Quel. , by Dr. George Wong on Oahu and Dr. Don Hemmes on Hawaii Is. some other fungi which might be psychologically harmful, if not physically dangerous, are noted. Hallucinogenic mushrooms belonging to Psilocybe, Panaeolus, and at least 10 other genera, have been investigated s...
Article
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From times in the remote past, the ti plant has served as a remarkably diverse, organic resource in many areas of tropical Jndia , Indonesia, Malaysia. tropical China, Philippines. Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. Among the more important of tbe biota that prehistoric voyagers purposefully in troduced to many continental and volcanic islands th...
Article
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In a study supported by the FFPS Oryx 100% Fund, the authors investigated the impact of traditional hunting practices on native land birds in Samoa. Hunting and habitat modification have contributed to the near extinction of several endemic species. Through new hunting regulations, conservation education programmes and the development of a national...
Article
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Rarotonga is the largest (64 km2 ) and by far the highest (652 m) of the Cook Islands. The native coastal and lowland vegetation of this high volcanic, tropical island has been either completely removed or heavily disturbed. Numerous exotic plant species have been introduced and many of these are now naturalized in the lower elevation habitats of t...