Sunday, January 1, 2017

Plant Puns

topiary, Japan
topiary, Japan
Why plant jokes? 

My goals writing about plants, travel, and history are to entertain with plant stories, making the point that plants are intriguing parts of our environment. Having a background in academia, I do factual easily, humor less easily. So I have been collecting plant jokes for the last couple of years and periodically inflicting them on people. Plant jokes are almost an can passive little green things be funny? Here, wishing you a merry New Year, are three I liked:

A farmer in ancient Rome grew strawberries. One year he produced a giant strawberry, about one foot wide and 18 inches high. He was delighted. He carried it home, cleaned it carefully, and set it, attractively displayed, on a table in his atrium. He talked up the giant strawberry everywhere he went, and soon people came from all around to see it. After the first day, he charged admission. Within weeks his amazing strawberry had nearly filled the box where he stored his coins. 

He did not report his unexpected earnings to the Roman tax office. He received an inquiry but ignored it since he couldn’t read Latin. A second message was filed with the first one.
Then one morning, three men, dressed in clothes typical of Roman city officials, much more stylish than his neighbors, arrived at his farm. When they knocked at the door, they said told the farmer they were from the Tax Authority of the Senate. The farmer smiled. "I suppose you have come all this way to admire my marvelous strawberry.”
“No, “ the leader said, “We’ve come to seize your berry, not to praise it.” 
* * * * *
lichens on rock
Lichens growing on a rock that is to their likin'
About Lichens

The mutualistic, symbiotic relationship in lichens can be described in the story of Freddie and Alice.  Freddie Fungus was a fun guy. Alice Algae was all-gal. They took a lichen to each other. Of course Alice's mother thoroughly disproved of this relationship as they were living in sin-biosis. Freddie built the house and did the shopping, while Alice stayed home and did the cooking. When they first got together, they went out on a limb.  But rumor has it that their relationship is now on the rocks.

* * * * * 

The monastery was having trouble paying for the new belfry, so the friars decided to sell flowers from the medicinal garden to raise extra money. Their flowers were inexpensive and people of the town were happy to buy from the friars. 

flower garden

Almost immediately, the town florist saw a drop in sales. He went to the monastery and asked the friars to please stop selling flowers. Buoyed by their success, the friars politely refused.

A month later, the florist's income was so reduced he was having trouble feeding his family. He approached the mayor. The mayor relayed the florist’s concerns to the friars.  

Again the friars refused to stop selling their flowers. 

Desperate, florist walked to the capital to visit the headquarters of his guild, the Respectful Order of Flower Cutters. A guild master listened carefully and said he would see to it.

A few days later, Hugh Martinson, generally known as Hugh the Large, walked to the town from the capital. Hugh wasn’t especially bright but he frequently explained things for the guilds of the capital.

Hugh went to the friars. “Da Guild says you gotta stop sellin’ fla’ers! If’n you don’t stop sellin' fla'ers, I’m gonna hit you an’ break your tools an’ stomp up ’n down in yer gard’n til you gotta stop sellin’ fla’ers. Truly.”

The friars looked at each other. They were convinced Hugh meant what he said. 

That afternoon the monastery announced that it had paid off new belfry and would no longer sell flowers.

Hugh and only Hugh can prevent florist friars. 

* * * * *

The earth laughs in flowers
    Ralph Waldo Emerson

midsummer wildflowers, Colorado Rockies

Comments and corrections welcome. 

Additional plant jokes on the occasional blog of my website: 

Strawberry: modified from and
Lichens: slightly modified from Charles E. Blair. Plant Science Bulletin 2004 50 (3), who invites you to add to the story.
Florist friars modified from Paul at

Kathy Keeler, A Wandering Botanist

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