Greetings from an amateur botanist!
I’ve been interested in the natural world all my life, and when I was younger I struggled to learn the names of plants and wildlife from books and members of my similarly nature-oriented family. Some of it managed to sink in, but no matter how hard I tried, not a whole lot clicked when I was a kid. Especially when it came to plants.
Then, near the end of high school… I discovered Wikipedia! GOD BLESS IT. Completely accurate resource or not, in a reasonable-enough way, it helped me gain a sort of ‘feel’ for the plant kingdom. And a GREAT passion for it.
After years of obsessively studying Wikipedia, using it, the rest of the internet, and actual legitimate books to follow up on hunches, and delightedly walking around in nature making personal observations that led to some of those hunches, I can now recognize lots of plants by genus or family at least, and summon up lots of useful attendant knowledge. It’s pretty exciting, being able to do the things I wanted to do as a kid!
I live in the Piedmont region of North Carolina (zone 7), so most of the plants I understand the best are native to or commonly found in that area. I’m a ‘gleaner’ or ‘forager’ – I love to walk around and eat what edibles I find! I also have a (very) little gardening experience, and if I choose to do some gardening this year, I’ll definitely be talking about it (and my gleaning) here and on the upcoming sister site to this one, Gal-ivant. Gal-ivant will be more of a nature journal as opposed to this site, which will be more strictly about plants (and the occasional fungus), though I will also sometimes talk here about cooking and eating plants, and other things directly related to plants like the behavior of insects, weather and soil conditions, etc.
I’ve had no formal training in botany. There is an awful lot I still don’t know – my efforts to remedy that are part of this blog! – and just as much that I may have learned already and forgotten. There are some obscure terms I understand, while other fine points that a real botanist would know – even a beginning one – may need refreshing.
I attempted to get a degree in biology, but ended up switching majors early on, and my real goals for a biology degree were directed towards neuroscience anyway – definitely not botany, despite an interest in it! I did go on a botanical paleontological dig, once! That was very exciting. Maybe I’ll dig up those pictures and make a post about it…
For now, though, here’s some videos on how to grow mangoes:
I found these fascinating. See, that’s the kind of person I am. If you like that, macro camera shots, Greek and Latin words (‘exempli gratia’ … ‘dioecious’ … ‘Burseraceae’ … ‘et cetera’ …), and geeking out about taxonomy and other aspects of things green, you should read this blog!
None of those people in the videos are me, by the way!
Another great thing I want to do with this blog: you will soon be able to contact me if there’s a plant you’d like me to identify from a photograph! If I do know what it is, I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. If I don’t know what it is, I’ll be at least as interested as you and will definitely look it up, getting back to you with a tentative ID as soon as I can. I’ll tell you flat out how uncertain I am, and I’ll tell you again right now that I really am not a real botanist, so you might want a second opinion before you do something drastic like eat it – ESPECIALLY if I tell you I have a reasonable doubt!
I expect to update this blog at least twice a month. Hopefully, that’s at least once every two weeks, and REALLY hopefully, much more often than that!
I am very excited about your blog and can’t wait to read about your perspectives on things botanical…especially with respect to foraging! Do you think that you’ll plan on including recipes that you make up? I’m really interested because you live in the same region that I do, so I’m hoping to find some of the plants that you glean and enjoy them also.
Something else that I’m interested in is the lore and interesting facts behind the plants that are around us, even common ones. Maybe you can address things like this in some of your future posts?
Looking forward to more!
Hi, mahamama! Thanks for your comment.
I might post about recipes if they’re good or have an interesting story behind them. In fact, I have a couple of recipes I already plan to post about!
Similarly, I definitely plan to share here anything I know in the way of lore and other interesting facts.
Good luck with your gleaning! I hope you find my articles informative, and use plenty of other information to support your identification of what you find before you eat.