|BOTANICAL ELECTRONIC NEWS|
No. 115 October 15, 1995
The latest issue of Vegetatio (1995, Vol. 118:1-192), edited by C.M. Finlayson and A.G. van der Valk, contains the proceedings of a symposium 'Classification and inventory of the world's wetlands' held at the IV International Wetlands Conference in Columbus, Ohio, USA, in 1992. Wetland and peatland classification systems and the status of wetland inventories are discussed in fourteen articles:
Compton, Brian D. 1995. "Ghost's ears" (Exobasidium sp. affin. vaccinii) and fool's huckleberries (Menziesia ferruginea Smith): a unique report of mycophagy on the central and north coasts of British Columbia. Journal of Ethnobiology 15(1):89-98.
Exobasidium spores may infect the leaves, stems, and flowers of fool's huckleberry or false azalea, resulting in organ deformation and hypertrophic growth that accompanies fungal development. Eventually the fungus sporulates on the surface of mycocecidia (fungal galls) that range from 1-2 cm in size and are somewhat berry-like (i.e., globular, somewhat sweet, and crisp). The mycocecidium produces a whitish bloom when sporulating, but the immature structure may be pale rose to purplish.
The cultural roles of mycocecidia (fungal galls) of the fungus
Exobasidium sp. affin. vaccinii on Menziesia ferruginea Smith
(false azalea, or fool's huckleberry) among various Pacific
northwest coast cultures are identified and discussed. As many
as nine distinct coastal groups named and ate these mycocecidia.
These galls were occasionally eaten fresh when they were found
but there is no evidence that they were gathered or prepared in
any way. Among at least three coastal groups, the Henaaksiala,
Heiltsuk, and Tsimshian, the mycocecidia had mythological importance.
We are working on establishing a small herbarium in northwest Montana and are interested in the possibilities of exchanging specimens with other herbaria for the purpose of stocking our collection of Carex, Vaccinium and other genera. We have miscel- laneous material collected in northwest Montana, including vascular plants, lichens and bryophytes (quite a few of the latter, in fact).
We are particularly interested in material from other parts of
Montana, as well as Idaho, Washington, British Columbia and
Alberta. If anyone is interested in exchanging material, please
let me know. Unfortunately, we are not yet listed in the Index
Herbariorum, but intend to do so soon.
Even at exhibits organized by botanical illustrators and artists I will be asked to supply common names for plants that really do not have one. Some of the plants I draw and paint are alpines from remote regions. Perhaps the yak herders or nomads have cutest common names for these things -- often I feel like tell- ing people to hike up there themselves and find out. Ha! And isn't is "imperialism" for *us* to be making up names for these plants anyway? Shouldn't the locals have a say?
It is so wonderful for me to be able to consult a flora in a language I don't read, but can use, because the names are in Latin, and I can piece the rest together...
You say we should take botany out of the kindergarten. I say the opposite. As you point out, children have no problem with these things. Before my four year old nephew moved on to an interest in the Revolutionary War, he had successfully memorized hundreds of scientific names of dinosaurs and other creatures. Botany is not taught in schools, but it used to be. Children and adults could also draw, to some degree or other, what they saw, and this is a great way to learn about a plant. People cannot respect or care for what they have never been taught to take seriously or understand. I know many people who consider them- selves "environmentalists" who don't know the name of a single plant--they consider all plants silly flowers. The schools should teach botany from a young age, and teach children how to draw and paint what they see. Then maybe even PBS would start having some serious programs about plants, not just animals.
I am also a gardener. As you can see, my perspective is one of an amateur and layperson. Many gardeners are somewhat hostile to botanists. They find keys intimidating. (They need more usable, gardener oriented keys.) But at least rock gardeners have a respect for the names of their plants! I have no problem with common names for truly common plants. Tasha Tudor is perfectly free to call her violas whatever she likes, just as I am free to call my dogs all sorts of weird names. The problem comes when I start asking everyone I know to learn all that stuff, put it in books, rewrite things, and remember that I don't call my dog a dog, I call him a teddy bear.
Long live botany, botanists, and scientific names. As I said,
I'd be lost without them--literally, I could not do my job. So
thanks, and good luck. - Bianca
From: Bob Simmonds (firstname.lastname@example.org)
A reply to Dr. Weber: While I can understand your position, I think there are other points to be considered. In today's educational system, the number of students learning Latin is very small, and the number learning Classical Greek essentially zero. During my teaching career (in geology) I found it necessary to offer a mini-course on the meanings of common Greco-Latin roots in scientific terminology. While the meaning of eg "Eohippus" is immediately obvious to me, it might as well be Martian to most, and labelling the beast as "Dawn Horse" is far more helpful (Yes, i am aware that the name is no longer valid, and that illustrates a problem with the scientific terminology...it keeps changing as earlier references turn up...witness the demise of "Brontosaurus".) Furthermore, most vascular plants, at least, *have* common names in areas where the population is gatherers who have been in place for a long time. It would seem only fair to use these names, at least on the specific level.
From: Weber William A (weberw@spot.Colorado.EDU)
Probably I should have pointed out that I use scientific nomenclature to teach these benighted people the meanings of the words in their own English language! I also have no gripe against using common names that have grown up within a culture. But even these are not usable when you are talking to a Chinese or Russian or even a Swedish friend.
In the Boulder Camera at the beginning of August 1995, a
quotable quote: Astronomer Carl Sagan, in his first public
appearance since undergoing a bone marrow transplant in April,
telling a Seattle audience that adults are sending the wrong
messages to kids: "One trend that bothers me is the glorification
of stupidity, that the media are reassuring people it's all
right to know nothing, that in a way it's cool. That to me is
far more dangerous than a little pornography on the Internet."
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