Sunday, April 1, 2007

Showy Orchis


For me, Showy Orchis is a harbinger. It has a quiet, self-assured way of announcing the arrival of spring. Orchis spectabilis is one of 29 different orchids found in the Great Smokies. It's considered rather rare, though what patches of showy orchis there are can be fairly extensive. Prefers moist, wooded areas with loamy soil at elevations of 1,500 to 3,000 feet.
Plants will speak volumes when we reclaim our ability to listen. It's amazing to consider the various impoverishments of the modern world and just how much we've lost from what we were once a part of. In "The Self-Organizing Mind of Plants," (1989) Kevin Kelly writes:
The unparalleled richness of knowledge about plants kept by aboriginal peoples is the most valuable green wealth of undeveloped countries. Destroying a rainforest not only destroys a gene bank, it also destroys a meme bank - all the future solutions, models, discoveries, and deep, replicating ideas that were held in the genes and partially extracted over centuries by careful shamans. That native scholarship with plants is a vanishing resource.

Biology, particularly botany, has always flourished with the amateur scientist's admirable skills - a reliance on empirical knowledge, and a capacity ot engulf the subject in its entirety by means of unbridled passion. The whole-systems approach of an amateur is so suited for the green cybernetics of plant life, and the plant cortex is so uncharted, that an amateur could pick a green spot on the world map by throwing a dart, and quickly become the world's expert on what those plants know.

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