The Fascination of Araceae
This list seems pretty pragmatic most of the
time. I'll be audacious this once and throw some
ideas out here that I don't see shared much
anywhere-as a stimulant to response, and further,
What is it that fascinates about these plants?
How did you first become interested in them?
For me it was the Eastern skunk cabbage
(Symplocarpus)- seeing it fearlessly bloom in a
Michigan February, pushing up its blooms through solid
ice with its own intrinsic heat; filling the swamps
with green before anything else dares show a leaf..
Then, going onward into my teens; the calla lily
became the favorite- with its blatant sexual imagery.
And there's the 'weirdness factor'- spots and
speckles on stems and leaves, twists and turns and
contortions; and the sheer hugeness and boldness of
foliage and flower. In a long GA summer, Alocasia can
get 4 ft. leaves and plant a full 8 ft. high, given
enough water and manure--
Let me restate the big question--to the human
spirit, what do these plants mean? What is the
Earth/Gaia/God/Goddess trying to tell us through them,
Part of it might be what the world may lose if
the current extinction spasm continues. How many
Anthuriums and others have already been lost as the
great burning of South America goes forward?
Do other people out there relate to any of
this? Can plants not only titillate, fascinate, and
enchant us but also act as channels, visions of glory,
great positive energy which; can crack open and
enlighted the unenlightened and change the human
spirit irrevocably for the better.
Back to skunk cabbage. It took lots of growing
up, facing the violent past of my own family, dealing
with years of denial; to uncover another reason I
loved it so and love it still--I wrote in 1990:
"But the skunk cabbage represented a thing free
in the wide world; something unconquerable by Dad and
the kids in school. Dad might shoot us all, but the
skunk cabbage would still come up every March in a
thousand scattered swamps. It was free, outside the
tightly cloistered and terrorized world of family and
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