Perseverating on perplexing Plantae
This thing here, in its essence, is an open botanical diary in which I attempt to teach myself to talk about (and, to a lesser esoteric extent, to) the plants that coexist with me in my little urban realm – in words and pictures and artwork.
Instead of persisting in my perennial pastime of perseverating on the perceived paucity of proximate Plantae, I decided to just get on with it and start learning about the stuff I do got around here, be it in my humble window box garden or my surrounds in Berlin, Wedding...and to do so with a modicum of humor.
The results will be on display in this thing here.
So if you’re into that kind of sick shit, then please feel free to stick around and correct my terminology where applicable.
The odyssey begins with this one slippery bastard.
I suspect it insinuated itself into my garden “landscape” (lol, guys, it’s a busted, rusted pot hanging from a busted, rusted scaffold hanging off the side of my building) via stealth seeds imported by way of a move from the more conspicuously verdant city of Königswinter in Western Germany. That or I planted it and forgot.
Anyway, so I couldn’t figure out what it was for like ever. And then, following very much speculation, sketching, wrong-headed botanizing, right-headed botanizing, and the requisite amount of drama, I did do just that.
But no spoilers just yet because narrative arc.
One thing that did decidedly not help was that by the time I’d gotten around to thinking about bothering to identify the aforementioned bastard, the sample organism had kind of...done...the better part of its life cycle already.
Life cycle be damned. I was going to identify this beast, even if it meant being forced to count tiny organs and employ jargon with which I had only the most slippery familiarity.
Verdict: We were looking at a member of the Pink family, Caryophyllaceae, best known for member carnations (Dianthus, about which I have no opinion), soapworts (Saponaria, for the tidy, ecologically-minded, and dorkily inclined), and chickweeds (Stellaria, for those like myself who enjoy ingesting foreign matter they’ve found in parks).
Further physiological investigations seemed to confirm the identification, though did little to comfort. Funny how hard it is to stuff diverse morphologies into tidy boxes, said the person who knew little about either.
But the obsession grew. Little did I know I was only hours and hours of g**gling hundreds of different species away from sorting out what this one might be.
In a somewhat destructive excursion, rooted in a vision of object-oriented science I feel queasy (if also amazingly ignorant) about, I had a peek inside one particular panicle to get a closer look at the internal anatomy.
Again, generally speaking, I find destroying something to determine its identity according to arbitrary qualifications very meh, but never fear (I assure myself), these plants had plenty of other opportunities to propagate before I smashed and cut up these specimens.
Short story long, allow me to present:
Silene armeria, or Sweet William catchfly,
the satisfying conclusion of my first documented excursion into the thorny-pedantic jungle of applied plant systematics, linguistic arcana and all.
Of course the jargon itself is not the constitutive mesh of the being it describes, but absent the being’s own vocabulary, I’ll take what tools I can to try and wrap my flappy brain around its existence and the nexus of connections it shares with other such nigh unfathomable bioforms.
I quite grew to like this hardy fellow...and I guess I’m not the only one: Indeed the little flaneur was also briefly featured on what has now become a collector’s coin in Lithuania, though under a slightly more solipsistic epithet, Silene lithuanica.
Anyway, I’m pleased for my new friend, though I hope they don’t let the fame go to their collective genetic blueprints or non-existent central nervous systems; may they instead continue to pop up unexpectedly in even the most rusted, busted of places.