Monday, February 4, 2013

Plants and History, Mostly

  I retired, having been a professor of biology for more than 30 years. But work shapes you in ways you didn't consider. So, for example, "publish or perish," usually described as an evil thing, remains part of my wiring. "It is not done until it is published"was a rule I lived by and even though I no longer need to publish, I still want to share what I've learned. Likewise, the photos I took were used in publishing or teaching. I still take photos but they just accumulate in files.

  Thus, my motivation for this blog is to see if I can satisfy my need to share good stories and interesting  pictures via this medium.

  What I plan is to write about plants--their quirks, their uses, their history--in short, their stories.  Two very short examples:

     Vanilla, one of my favorite flavors, comes from an orchid. Although there are more species of orchids than species in any other plant family, vanilla is the only orchid that is commercially produced (for anything besides beautiful flowers), and so a very special orchid.

  My father retired to Florida and became a serious camellia grower.  I too like camellias but cannot grow them in Colorado because they cannot survive much frost. Consequently in my travels, I note and enjoy camellias wherever I see them.

    In Japan I learned that while the Japanese have native camellias and certainly grow them, the samurai disliked them because the fallen flowers reminded them too much of beheaded samurai. That has certainly changed the way I look at camellias.

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