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Serpentinite is composed of the mineral serpentine; the two terms are often used to mean the rock and soil.
Serpentine soils are ubiquitous but with patchy distributions and have three traits; poor plant productivity, high rates of endemism, and vegetation types distinct from neighboring areas.
The barrens occur on outcrops of altered ultramafic ophiolites.
For example, Noccaea fendleri (aka Fendler's penny grass) is a hyper-accumulator of nickel and Sedum laxum ssp. In some cases, symbioses with serpentine tolerant ectomycorrhizal help facilitate plants’ adaptation to edaphic stressors on serpentine.
Serpentine soil is mostly derived from ultramafic rocks; In particular, serpentinite, a rock formed by the hydration and metamorphic transformation of peridotite.
Peridotite is an ultramafic rock from the Earth's upper mantle.
Asbestos is composed of microscopic needle-like crystals made from magnesium-Iron silicate.
Asbestos is linked to an array of human health conditions such as mesothelioma from long time exposure of breathing in the dust particles.