“PLANT BLINDNESS is a modern phenomenon whereby humans walk through their world each day and do not notice plants, nor do they know the name, the physiological, ethnobotanical, herbological or ecological connection between themselves and plants.”
First off you should know I am not a scientist. I am a naturalist. My knowledge of plants comes from a personal relationship and constant observation and study. I read everything I can find, including the works of various plant and biological scientists. I forage for plants and use them as food, utility, medicine, and spiritual growth. I am teaching from what I know and what I am learning and offer what I know as one method of connecting with the plant “kindom”. Yes, KINDOM. Kindom is different from the hypothesis of Kingdom, which is hierarchical in organization. Kindom, is different – the hypothesis put forward by the likes of plant specialist and scientist Dr. Alan (Mushroom) Kapuler – says that plants and animals and all species all need each other for survival. There is not a higher group organization, rather all species interact and need each other in cooperation. Relationships between all species is not competitive but cooperative.
Here is a link to Kapuler’s web blog for further discussion of cooperative relationships between species:
WHY DO YOU NEED TO KNOW BOTANY?
Why do you need to know botany? Because my goal is to allow each and every one of you to go into a natural area and identify every plant. A goal that will only be reachable if you are well versed in Botany and plant identification.
Do you know that the connection between humans and the natural world is breaking down so fast that we now have a definition for humans that are disconnected from plants. It is called “Plant Blindness”. PLANT BLINDNESS is a modern phenomenon whereby humans walk through their world each day and do not notice plants, nor do they know the name, the physiological, ethnobotanical, herbological or ecological connection between themselves and plants.
It is my hope that you will learn all about plants on this Radical Botany blog and it will be taught in a way that you can easily absorb and apply to your life as a plant lover, naturalist or budding scientist.
So let us begin.
Botany is the study of plants. It is a scientific process whereby plants are examined from the cellular to the ecological levels. A scientist who studies Botany or plants are called a botanist. A plant lover can also be called a naturalist, a gardener, a horticulturist, or one of my favorite “a tree hugger”. Unabashedly I am a tree hugger and a naturalist.
WHERE DO PLANTS COME FROM?
According to the theories of science, hundreds of millions of years ago, tiny specks of protoplasm appeared on earth in the ancient seas, and were the beginning of all our plants and animals. The protoplasm specks – a one cell organism that became plants developed thick walls and developed the green coloring matter as chlorophyll which enabled them to make food from substances in the air, water and soil. Slowly over time the plants were able to leave water and adapt to land growing and producing multi-cell organisms.
In the past botanists regarded plant as meaning a multicellular, eukaryotic organism that generally does not have sensory organs or voluntary motion and has, when complete, a root, stem, and leaves. However this is a better description of vascular plants. Some plants have no roots, stems or leaves. And, plant-like organisms such as kelp are actually from the order Laminariales.
Let me go out on a limb here (pun intended) and make this statement about plants: they are alive versus being parasitic and not alive.
A second characteristic of a plant it is that it refers to any organism that is photoautotrophic—produces its own food from raw inorganic materials and sunlight. However, Blue-green algae and certain bacteria and cynophytes are photoautotrophic and are not classified as plants.
The same is true for mushrooms. A mushroom- the fruiting body of a fungus (Kindom Fungi) is not considered a plant. It is closer to the animal kingdom. A mushroom is not photoautotrophic at all, but saprophytic for the most part however, some fungi and bacteria is parasitic.
Traditionally, all living things were divided into five kingdoms:
I know, I know - scientists are now trying to say there are only three kingdoms: Archaea — Eubacteria — Eukaryota and these kingdoms reflect whether the object of study has a cell wall or not. I prefer to work with the five kingdom (or Kindom) system because it allows us to generally differentiate between major groups of living organisms.
So let us say that plants are part of the kindom Plantae. Plants include familiar organisms such as flowering plants, conifers, ferns, mosses, and green algae, but do not include seaweeds like kelp, nor fungi and bacteria.
Plants can be grouped as follows:
First informal group - GREEN ALGAE
Third Informal Group of plants -PTERIDOPHYES- The pteridophytes are vascular plants (plants with xylem and phloem) that produce neither flowers nor seeds.
Fourth Informal Group of Plants: SEED PLANTS
Seed plants: Cycadophyta also known as cycads of which there are 160 known species
Seed Plants: Ginkgophyta also known as ginkgo of which there is one known species
Seed Plants: Pinophyta also known as conifers of which there are 630 known species
Seed Plants: Gnetophyta (woody plants) also known as gnetophytes of which there are approximately 70 known species.
Seed Plants: Magnoliophyta also known as flowering plants of which there are approximately 258,650 species
My focus for Radical Botany will be worts, clubs, mosses, ginko, flowering plants and conifers as well as other trees found in the Cascadian bio-region: An area that includes British Columbia, Washington State, Oregon State, and Northern California.
Next time: Cell structure of Plant Groups: flowering plants and conifers