Jennifer Ackerfield, Herbarium Curator in the Biology Department, shows off specimens in the CSU collection. May 12, 2015. Image via J. Ackerfield.
Guest post from Colorado State University Herbarium Collections Manager Jennifer Ackerfield. She literally wrote the book on Colorado flora.
Botany is not dead, but this plant is: The importance of herbaria in the 21st century and beyond
Herbarium. For many, this one word invokes images of a dark, dusty place, a mortuary for plants you might say. But for me, it invokes images of carefully examining plant specimens for taxonomic studies, lively scientific debate, group collaborative efforts to key out difficult plants, and students talking and working and most of all learning.
Starting in September, I will be resuming my TAing duties for the UBC class BIOL 343: Plants and People, this time co-taught by Profs. Shona Ellis and Kathryn Zeiler. Hopefully that means more juicy ethnobotany nuggets on the horizon, gentle reader.
Angel’s Trumpet. Image from Wikimedia Commons by berichard.
This ultimate edition of Students of Ethnobotany comes from Carina I., and teaches us that you can’t necessarily trust a plant just because it’s beautiful and comes from a good family.
Imagine this… you see a nice looking flower in a nearby garden, you take a whiff and BAM! Free will and the ability to reason are knocked right out of you! Sounds like a tale out of a science fiction story, doesn’t it?
Feed me Seymour! Audrey2. Image from Wikimedia Commons by KaiMartin.
This man-eating penultimate edition of Students of Ethnobotany comes from the fascinated Yvette Beesley.
When I was in my teens my parent were large supporters of the Arts and took me to this play called “The Little Shop of Horrors”. It was amazing, with a singing and dancing plant called Audrey2 that needed blood to survive.
Salvia divinorum. Image from Wikipedia by Eric Hunt.
This divine edition of Students of Ethnobotany comes from the sage Riel Eden.
If you are a member of today’s younger generation, you probably have heard of Diviner’s Sage, more commonly known as Salvia divinorum. Although this plant is usually just referred to as Salvia, Salvia is the name of the entire genus of plants. The specific hallucinogenic plant is Salvia divinorum. I was interested in this plant because of the hype I heard around it when I was growing up. The common tag lines being ‘a plant related to marijuana, that is also legal’ or ‘an LSD that is legal.’ I wanted to investigate this plant and see if all those phrases were true.
Digestive bitters. Image by Laura E.
This easily digestible edition of Students of Ethnobotany is brought to us by Laura E.
When I was a kid, I really hated licorice. The taste just put me right off; I wouldn’t go near anything that resembled the sweet, bitter flavour. Lately, however, it is helping me to heal in a powerful way.
This edition of Students of Ethnobotany, by G. Loi, looks more deeply into the medicinal uses of our smelly friend, the ginkgo.
The ginkgo plant at the University of British Columbia. Picture taken in October 2013. Photo by G. Loi.
Which tree has no living relatives? Which tree was still standing after the Hiroshima atomic bomb in 1945? Which tree has awful smelling seeds that can enhance memory? The Ginkgo biloba, a plant native to China. My first experience with the ginkgo plant was when I was shelling the white seeds and picking out the fruit to make congee for my mother when she was sick. The slightly bitter and bland taste did not make much of an impression for me. It was not until much later, that I realized how the history and the uses of the ginkgo were so diverse and curious.