Wednesday, July 16, 2008

What consolation looks like:

I let myself buy a plant from work yesterday, on account of the pretty crappy week I've just had. (Some people eat comfort food; I buy comfort plants.) And although there have been a few different plants at work talking to me lately (among them a very nice, black-purple Neoregelia with greenish spots that's just a little too enormous and expensive for me right now. Which means I don't get the Neoregelia until I need to make up for a week with three Emergency Room visits, I guess.), this is the one I went with:


I know: this looks neither new nor consoling. And you're half right, at least: I already had a similar plant called Euphorbia grandicornis, which I've written a profile about previously. It's actually possible that this is a second specimen of E. grandicornis, or that my original "E. grandicornis" was in fact something else, perhaps E. breviarticulata or E. pseudoburuana. There really should be a service. Tellmewhatspeciesofplantihave.com or something. You send pictures in to the site, and a few hours later a team of highly-trained but embarrassingly under-employed plant taxonomists e-mails you back an ID.

EDIT: I now believe the original plant to be E. pseudocactus, though that could change.

I think E. grandicornis is on the left and E. pseudocactus is on the right. What do you think: same species being grown under different conditions, or different but related species that were grown under more or less the same conditions? New plant is on the left; old plant is on the right. Just based on the size of the thorns alone, I'm inclined to say they're different species, but it's very hard to feel certain.

Probably not a terribly lucrative idea: there are already places where you can have that done for free, like the Garden Web Name That Plant! Forum. Though if I may say, sometimes the quality of the resulting guesses is kind of, er, crappy. It'd be worth a few bucks to have people looking at it who had some expertise in the area.

Anyway. It's also not really a normal mental image for consolation, either. I think consolation, and mostly what comes to mind are mothers and fuzzy blankets and warm chocolate-based foods. Plants that look like they want to tear you apart with their thorns and then suck you up with their roots are way down there on the comfort list for most people, somewhere after salmonella and Dick Cheney.


I really don't understand this love for the Euphorbias. I mean, it's like I'm not interested in a plant unless it can hurt me in some way: either by stabbing, or cutting, burning, or poisoning. The worrisome possibility is that I'm expressing a death wish in a really (really) roundabout way; the happy possibility is that this is what counts as thrill-seeking for me. Some people skydive; I buy a Pachypodium. There are arguments to be made in both directions.

In any case. Sharp objects, new plants, taxonomic investigation to be done: yesterday was pretty good.


7 comments:

Julia said...

I'd never thought about it before, but I buy comfort plants too. For me it's ferns. Always ferns. The £2.99 ones from Homebase (it's a bit like Home Depot). My husband despairs.

I've had a crappy week too. I now own a Cheilanthes lanosa...

sheila said...

I used to eat chocolate and buy orchids. I had a really crappy several months - ended up with about 25 more orchids! But I can't afford any more orchids now, with college tuition to pay this fall for the kid. And I'm out of space and time to care for them anyway.

So I'm moving on to chocolate and wine instead.

Water Roots said...

Well, you're certainly not alone. I buy comfort plants quite often, especially during the winter season when it's so dark, cold and depressing here. I search for plants with big, bold leaves that look like they'd give you a hug if they could. When they're not available, I try to locate some bromeliads, although I haven't figured out what the message behind them is...

Aiyana said...

I'm like Sheila--but my vices are cacti and chocolate pudding. Makes one poor and fat!
You are hoot! I enjoy reading your hilarious repartee.
Aiyana

heather said...

OMG! I do that too! Thank God I don't work at a nursery! It would be great if you could post the picture of the bromeliad. It sounds beautiful!

mr_subjunctive said...

heather:

So far, I keep forgetting to get a picture when I'm there, but it'll happen sooner or later. If nothing else, eventually I'm going to want to know what it's called.

Marie said...

I work at a nursery, buy comfort plants as well, but go for the variegated types, ANY variegated leaf , of ANY type of plant makes me feel better.Needless to say my home, stoep and garden will make your head spin with variegatetness...can't say I want to know the meaning behind that...