Sunday, October 19, 2008

Botanical Gardens

Last night I went to a concert and got drunk... but today I shook it off and headed out to my local botanical gardens. I went there with the intention of starting to learn about the plant life native to my state (California) and what the native people used to use these plants for. I did learn a few very interesting things and I picked up a couple books on the subject as well.

I took some pictures so you can check stuff out now, but as I read these books I'll be sure to mention anything particularly cool that I find.

Here's the pics: (if I start doing this often I'll have to get myself a flickr account

This is Oregon Iris. According to the little placard it's fibers can be used for cordage. I guess you'd have to strip off the many leaf-stems on one of the main branches first and somehow strip that into fibers. I'm very interested in learning how this is done!

This is the California Buckeye. It blooms fruits in the summer and has snowy-white pink flowers. ATTENTION! This thing is TOXIC==POISONOUS!!! Good thing I saw it here first. If you were lost in the wilderness wouldn't you test out a fruit as harmless looking as this? According to the placard this was used by the natives as fish poison. I don't understand exactly what that means though. Used to poison a fish to kill it? Wouldnt that make it inedible? I'm very interested in finding out the specifics about this.

Ahhh the California Juniper. I'm used to seeing Juniper bushes used as hedges in front of many houses and in other public places. What I didn't know is that the branches and especially large dried-out trunks were prized for bow-wood, and the leaves were used as medicine, which is definitely something I'd like to learn more about.
More California Juniper. Up there is the leaves, down here is the bark.

Yucca Whipplei, aka "Our Lord's Candle." This is a very awesome plant. According to the sign: "Indian uses: food, stalk for tinder, leaf fibers for cordage & sandals." Again a plant I'm very interested in learning more about, specifically how to make it's prepared as food, and how to make sandals out of it's leaves! You know us Californians with our beaches and our sandal-rocking in February, haha...

That's all I've got time for right now but I'll try to post more tomorrow or the next day. Lots of studying to do though so we'll see...

One interesting thing to note: No palm trees anywhere. I remember hearing from a friend at some point that Palm Trees are not native to our area so I'd like to find out if this is true. It's just kind of interesting considering that the rest of the country probably associates Palm trees with California and Florida... I wonder if they're native to Florida for that matter...

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