Learning botany is like going to a wild party where you don’t know many folks. At first, you may feel intimidated, then you bump into someone and you learn their name. But, a name is just an entry point. Each time you run into your new friend, you learn more about them: where they live; what job they have in the community; who they are related to; and so on. You learn their name so you can deepen your relationship to them and build your community.
It’s practically the same with plants. First, we learn their name, let’s say Angelica hendersonii. After that then we learn about Angelica’s uses, familial relationships, stories, and ecology. For instance, we learn about Angelica’s use in ceremonies and why its associated with the heavenly realm. We learn about the age old use of Angelica as a warming carminative and stimulant to digestion. And, before we know it we have made a lasting relationship and built community with the more-than-human world. Botany may seem like it is for geeks but the learning to really see a plant changes how you see your place in the family of life. As artist Georgia Okeeffe so wisely wrote “Nobody sees a flower really; it is so small. We haven’t time, and to see takes time – like to have a friend takes time”.