Friday, June 15, 2012

I was reading not too long ago about a plant researcher at the beginning of the 1900's who speculated on whether or not it was possible to breed carnivorous plants with poisonous ones. The idea is especially alarming given that he also believed that plants had memories and feelings and could hold grudges. The last plants you want holding a grudge against you are the ones who might kill you and then have you as a snack once you'd stopped struggling. These are the things that make me thankful for roots.

He believed that the deadly nightshade was full of hatred, which is what made it so poisonous. It doesn't seem that far of a stretch. (I am allergic to the fruits of the genus Capsicum, which are also in the nightshade family, so I tend to have a lot of opinions about the feelings and grudges these plants are all holding against me.) I've been thinking about the whole Solanaceae family lately, how some of the plants make delicious tomatoes and some of them make poisons on top of poisons. How we never seem to clarify if the feelings make the plants poisonous or if the plants make the feelings poisonous.

I wonder this about the old stories, too, if they are all populated by queens and neighbors and robbers that would hurt to touch, if the poison shows through their skin. If the stories were written first by the plants and only later translated by us, the people with the ears to hear leaning low and writing down the whispers of the leaves.

1 comment:

josh said...

Timely, given the recent completion of the tomato genome, which has a few thousand more genes than humans.