Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Unfinished business: fictional botany

Sadly, I've gotten out of the habit of writing fictional botany posts -- the last was posted in July 2010 -- even though I enjoyed doing them. After the one in July 2010, I started another, and had a pretty clear image of the plant in my mind, but had trouble finding the right words for it; after working on it for a few weeks, I shelved it and haven't tried to write another since.

One of the things that hindered the fictional botany posts was my complete inability to illustrate the posts. I mean, I knew what I was thinking of, but I couldn't actually show y'all. Which is a problem. This has now been partly remedied, thanks to PATSP reader Nadya W-G, who blogs at Bucket of Birds, and who painted this illustration of Diabarbus polytrichus (sheepwhistle) for me:

Not for free; I have to send her plants later. But still.

If you missed the sheepwhistle post, you can read it here.

Other, as-yet unillustrated, fictional botany posts:

Miscanthus decafasciatus (mathly whipgrass)

Conyza piscis (hippie buttons; georgeweed)

Duggara iridophylla (vampire begonia)

Schizocaulus resectus (404 plant)

Vestisperma acidophora (Mexican sour curtain; cortina de vinagre)

Spiculogramina greenii (cut the devil down; kingwah; sharpgrass; Confederate razor blade; African rat grass)

Aerophthora repens (hushvine; flor de diablo; flor de silencio; orphans' vine)


Pat said...

You appear to have left off the name of the botanical author. As this is the first report for this species I presume this is Diabarbus polytrichius Subj.

marcos said...

How is it that I reeeeally enjoy reading your blog? Seriously, you should write a serious book (like the one everybody was commenting about few weeks ago) but please don't stop writing the blog! To me it's kind of the updated/other-side-of-the-ocean version of V. Sackville West articles for the Observer.

Nadya W-G said...

I wonder if there's a market out there for a book about fictitious plants...

mr_subjunctive said...

Nadya W-G:

There must be at least a little one, because I've seen more than one such book in the past. (One Example)

Nadya W-G said...


Would any of your publisher contacts be interested in something along those lines? Or, heck, "Children's guide to evil plants"? (Complete with cartoonish illustrations of nettles, poison ivy, castor beans, and so forth.

mr_subjunctive said...

Nadya W-G:

I'm not sure many publishers would be comfortable directing the attention of children toward poisonous plants, even for warning purposes. A kid who doesn't know about poisonous plants and eats a castor bean and dies is tragic, but a kid who reads a book about poisonous plants and then eats a castor bean and dies is a sure lawsuit against the publisher, regardless of how hard the toxicity was stressed.

I mean, maybe they're not that skittish in reality, but it wouldn't surprise me.

Nadya W-G said...

Touche. Didn't think of the human error factor.

Pat said...

"Horrible Histories" may have immunised publishers against the idea that children will copy what they read. It would be difficult to write a book on poisonous plants though, without reference to the dose making the difference between a poison and a medicine. I was growing and experimenting with poisonous plants when I was 11 years old and it never did me any harm. Never killed or harmed anyone, I just realised I should add. Carbonel and The Kingdom of Carbonel had some very interesting witch's plants and perhaps inspired me too much.


My favourite fantasy botany book is Amarant by the appropriately-named Una Woodruff. Worth buying for the Tiger Lilies alone.