Be Amazed of the Diversity of Plants... But Don't get Overwhelmed by it.

Some plants are really easy to tell apart!
Others have... well... have a lot of discussion and debate in the botanical world.
I mean, look at this forum post on the Dandelions!

But anyways, my goal is not to overwhelm you with minute taxonomic complexities. It's rather to allow you to read the plants, appreciate their incredible yet hidden diversity, and reveal their hidden ecology, edible and medicinal uses, all manner of plant lore. Don't get too bogged down or overwhelmed by every extremely tiny morphological differences. Particularly with the dandelions.

I want you to see the great diversity of plants. We can get into deeper botanical discussions on smaller species differences if you want, but not too much. It's interesting to a point. Unless you're planning to be a botanist when you grow up, I think you might lose the fun in studying plants 😉

Now, I'm probably going to struggle with this a lot with you people (because I am a nerdy botanist person and tend to get obsessed with the tiny nitty gritty taxonomic details).

That's why I'm planning on doing larger field expeditions using iNaturalist and sharing observations with each other next semester. Because that's where things get fun.
The struggle is going to be with getting people to use iNaturalist correctly, so that might take some time...

...but if we can get to that point then you will get see the world in a completely different way. It's like seeing again.

You will learn to notice, to pay attention to fine details, which will help you with much more than just plants.
You will appreciate the many beautiful species of plants (such as milkweeds, and learn to get excited when you see a new and uncommon species like the Texas milkweed with its pure white flowers - I've always wanted to see one in person!)

Copyright CC BY-NC 4.0, @caadams07 on iNaturalist

You will understand the weird and wonderful things about plants, from the Erodium seeds that somehow manually drill themselves into the ground, to the unusual behavior of the Resurrection Fern.
And, with that knowledge, you will be able to work with plants much closer and start to use them to their fuller extent, such as:

  • Foraging wild dewberries
  • Making Yaupon tea, from the only natural caffeinated plant in North America
  • Daring one other to eat a Chiltepin pepper—just make sure to properly identify it first!
  • Using certain plants for healing poultices (yarrow for helping blood clots, for example)
  • Weaving baskets out of willow twigs... or creating a rooting hormone from it!

By identifying plants, the natural world becomes your playground, your workshop. It's a bit like playing Minecraft. It even carries over to the gardener's branch; You will know which plants would grow best in a garden on campus... because you'd have observed where they grow in the wild.

That's one of my greater visions for the naturalist's branch, and what makes me excited for this club!

I want you to be amazed at the diversity of plants, but not overwhelmed by it. Don't boggle your mind too much about some of this crazy taxonomy stuff (remember this is science, so things can change). Otherwise you're going to start hating plants. And we don't want that.

Stay happy,

Posted on December 24, 2021 10:44 PM by arnanthescout arnanthescout


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