Monthly Archives: December 2012

Just in time for a tercentenary: Rousseau and the periwinkle (Vinca major)

Vinca major photographed six months ago in our garden

Vinca major photographed six months ago in our garden 

Jean-Jacques Rousseau relates in his Confessions that one day in 1764 he and a friend were climbing up a hill at Cressier, near Neuchatel in Switzerland,  when he ‘exclaimed with a cry of joy, “Ah! There is some periwinkle!” ’;  the friend ‘observed my delight, without knowing the cause of it’.  The flower had reawakened in Rousseau a happy memory from thirty years earlier, when he knew nothing of botany and the plant had been pointed out to him by his protector, tutor and lover, Madame de Warens. The popularity in France of the Confessions means that plant is now commonly regarded as an emblem of memory and friendship.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Jean-Jacques Rousseau was born on 28th June, 1712, and so there are just a few days left to mark his 300th anniversary.  At the time of the periwinkle sighting he had been living for a couple of years in nearby Môtiers, after protests in Paris over his view of religion had forced him to flee. And it was there, when he was fifty, that he developed a passion for botany that was to last the rest of his life. He ordered a shelfload of books, and as he collected plants he annotated their margins – you can see them here. Straightaway he began to plan a botanical dictionary. His approach to plants, like his philosophy, is at the same time far removed from present-day understanding and immensely appealing, due not least to the clarity and force of his writing.

Rousseau  admired Linnaeus, whose Species Plantarum had been published in 1753, and wrote to him:

Alone with Nature and with you I spend happy hours walking in the countryside, and from your Philosophia botanica I get more real profit than from all other books on ethics…

It was Linnaeus who gave Vinca  its generic name, from the Latin vincire  (to bind), referring to its use in garlands. Rousseau followed Linnaeus in seeing species as individually created by the Deity and immutable, and for him plant-collecting prompted transports of religious wonder:

Nothing is more singular  than the rapture, the ecstacy I felt at every observation I made on vegetable structure, and on the play of the sexual parts in fructification. The forks of the long stamina of the Self-heal . . . the explosion of the fruit of Balsam . . . and a hundred little acts of fructification filled me with delight, and I ran about asking people if they had ever seen the horns on the Self-heal, just as La Fontaine asked if Habbakuk had ever been read.

The world of nature was a solace to Rousseau when the world of politics and religion rained blows on his head. He wrote: ‘If only I had imitated the Uppsala professor [Linnaeus], I would have won a few days of happiness and years of peace of mind.’

I was lucky enough to be given a copy of his Elementary Letters on Botany , written in the 1770s to a female friend he had met in Môtiers in 1762. In these he makes clear he has no time for botany as a science:

You must not, my dear friend, give botany an importance which it does not have; it is a study of pure curiosity, one that has no real utility except what a thinking, sensitive human being can draw from observing nature and the marvels of the universe.  Man has rendered many things unnatural, the better to put them to his own use…

Here he is talking about grafting of wild fruit trees, and the selective breeding of flowers, which he describes as ‘monsters deprived of the faculty of reproducing their own kind’.  He was also against the transport and naturalisation of plants from one part of the world to another: his response to the classification of Vinca major as an invasive species in temperate regions of Australia, New Zealand and the United States would surely have been ‘I told you so.’

 

 

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A ready-decorated tree: Arbutus unedo

Arbutus tree with fruit

Arbutus tree with fruit

What am I thinking of, imagining anyone is interested in botany when there’s food to be eaten and family to see and midwinter fun to be had?  But anyway….

I prefer seeing this tree, growing wild near here, to an imported spruce with plastic stuff hanging on it. We did pick some branches of Arbutus one year to put in the house – but the berries fell off and made a squishy mess, so now I’ll leave it growing where it is.

It’s curious for several reasons: for example, it’s unusual in bearing flowers and ripe fruits at the same time.  It’s a member of the heather family (Ericaceae – the flowers are very similar), though it’s much bigger – up to 5 metres tall. Finally, though the fruits look as delicious as strawberries – it’s also called the strawberry tree – they taste quite bland. People do use them to make a jelly, but you have to strain out all the hard little pips.

Arbutus flowers

Arbutus flowers

Like other heathers, it doesn’t like soils with a lot of limestone, so it’s found on sandy soil, or as here on a slope of schist – broken sedimentary rock – which is usually quite acidic. For me, this sort of geology is also behind – or rather, under – some of my favourite wines: the northern parts of the apellations of Faugères, St Chinian and Minervois (La Livinière). You can find more explanation here, but it’s to do with the high mineral content of schist, and how the fast-draining soil, which is mostly flakes of rock, makes the vine roots go deeper in search of water.

I can wish you nothing better than to have a glass of any of the above during your midwinter feast, and many more in 2013.

Till next year!

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New flower, and new kit: Reseda phyteuma (Corn mignonette)

Inflorescence of Reseda phyteuma

Inflorescence of Reseda phyteuma

I go out these days not expecting to see much in the way of flowers – but keen to see something because I have new kit to try out.  Chaiselongue and I decided, in the traditional spirit of seasonal extravagance and instant gratification, to exchange presents early, which for me means I now have her  Pentax K7 with a spanking new 100mm macro lens. If your main subject is flowers, this is not the most exciting time of year. So I wander in the vines with a mixture of hope and resignation, and when I see something I haven’t seen before I’m more excited and grateful than usual.  And this little flower is now my new best friend.

R.phyteuma in vineyard

R.phyteuma in vineyard

Reseda phyteuma (Corn mignonette, in an English which seems more like Franglais) is a small plant, usually only 10-30cm tall, which likes sandy and dry ground. I found this in a vineyard which is on a flood plain of a small river, so the soil is sand and gravel. In French mignon means pretty, or cute, and I guess the frilly petals fit that description.  Other distinguishing features: the six sepals look like small leaves, and the stamens seem out of scale for the small flower; they bear pink or orange anthers. It is supposed to flower from April to September – this one has lost its calendar.

I haven’t used the macro that much yet, but I do find the 100mm lens means I can get pictures which look close, without having to lie on the ground with my nose in the leaves.  And joy of joys, I can focus on what I want however slender or small, without the camera deciding that what I really need is a clear photo of the earth behind it.  I’m still finding out what it can do, but it’s making me interested in investigating leaves, so expect more of this sort of thing:

Leaves of Geranium in the garden

Leaves of Geranium in the garden

Et maintenant, c’est mignon, c’est chouette, c’est Thurston Harris et  Little bitty pretty one, de 1957.

Coming up next: trees with balls.

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Flower as star: Calendula arvensis (field marigold), and Kew Gardens

Calendula arvensis in the vines

Calendula arvensis in the vines

This little flower has reappeared in the last month or so, an irrepressibly cheerful sight this dark time of year.  It’s a composite flower of the Asteraceae family – so named for their similarity in form to stars – the outer female florets sporting a long strap petal, and the inner male florets being simple tubes. The colours range from yellow into orange, emphasising the individuality of each one. It’s an annual which is supposed to flower all year round – hence its Latin name, from the Roman Calendae, the first day of each month –  but here it seems to die back in the summer heat. It’s an annual, having to regerminate from seed, which is easier in the autumn rains. It’s also a rapid coloniser of cultivated, ploughed land so it often appears here at the edges of vineyards.  The scientific name is probably more familiar than those of most plant genera because of its healing properties, although most products seem to be made from the cultivated marigold, Calendula officinalis. It’s anti-everything: antifungal, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory etc. Why ‘marigold’? Because as a healing plant brought from the Mediterranean to northern Europe in the Middle Ages it was named in honour of the Virgin Mary, to distinguish it from other, non-therapeutic ‘golds’ such as chrysanthemums.

Calendula growing thickly

Calendula growing thickly

 

Its name in French is Souci des champs, souci  usually meaning a worry or concern.  That doesn’t seem the right name for something pretty, long-flowering and healthy, and in fact it is the wrong interpretation: souci in this context comes via old French soulsie from the Latin sol sequia, meaning sun follower, because the flowers open in sunlight.

Flowers are the stars in front of the camera in the recent David Attenborough series, Kingdom of Plants, which was shown on Sky I believe – I was lucky enough to be given the DVDs and some kind of report on them is well overdue. As you may know, the series was made over the period of a year in Kew Gardens: here’s the man himself introducing it:

In the films, the flowers really take the starring roles: there is exquisite time-lapse footage of petals of every shade and size unfolding, the largest being the Titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum), a flower seven feet tall:

The strong points of the series for me were the photography, and Attenborough’s awareness of the interdependence of the whole natural world:  bats needing nectar, flowers needing to be pollinated, fungi exchanging nutrients with green plants, and so on. But I can’t help being in two minds about the films, as I am about Kew itself.  I haven’t got a TV so I was the more taken aback by the relentless search for an exciting visual, and hence the focus on flowering rather than any other plant process. And the ‘making of’ feature brought home to me how in some ways the sheer tonnage of high-tech equipment deployed began to dictate the film: if something could be done, with an expensive gadget (3D cameras, booms, robot helicopter cameras) for the first time ever, then it HAD to be done.

I only have a vague memory of going once to Kew with my parents: I just recall a lot of rhododendrons. In the films Kew itself is ever-present, constantly lauded and never questioned, given a respect that even deities don’t enjoy these days. It is a fascinating place, but it fills me with very mixed emotions. On the one hand I agree with the superlatives: it does have over 40,000 plants actually growing there, while I think I’ll be lucky to see half the 2,000 or so species growing near my home – present count is only about 120.

On the other hand: maybe it’s a kink in my personality, but I always want to puncture inflated reputations, deserved or not. Kew Gardens have undergone several metamorphoses since their origins around 1720 as private pleasure gardens for the royalty whom Britain imported from Hanover after the Act of Settlement, and with whom the country is still saddled. Kew is still a ‘Royal Botanic Garden’. As with many botanic gardens, it served initially as an ego-project, each prince and king in Europe vying to have the greatest number and the most exotic species. The cost of botany was high and many plant collectors died: Captain Cook’s 1768-71 Pacific voyage in the Endeavour cost the lives of 38 crew members, and Joseph Banks, the botanist (and later Kew adviser) who went with him, lost five of his eight staff while amassing 3,600 dried plants.

Kew began serious collection of plants targeted for the needs of the British Empire in the 19th century, transporting from one continent to another tea, rubber and many other plants – for the benefit of the colonial planters.  We forget what the lifestyles of the Victorian upper classes were like. For example, in 1868 Charles Darwin and his family went to the Isle of Wight on holiday, renting a cottage from the photographer Julia Margaret Cameron, for whom he sat for a portrait.

Charles Darwin photographed by Julia Margaret Cameron, 1868

Charles Darwin photographed by Julia Margaret Cameron, 1868

Her family lived solely from the proceeds of their coffee plantations in Ceylon. While coffee had originally been brought there by the Dutch (who had stolen plants from Mocha in Yemen), it was Kew who stepped in with Liberian varieties in 1873 when a quarter of Ceylon’s plantations were wiped out by disease. Darwin’s own private income came mostly from his tenant farmers and railway shares.

I’m realising that the history of Kew is too full and too interesting to cover here, including as it does much of the history of botany itself, so I’ll come back later to these and other themes, including a bizarre minor skirmish in the battle of the sexes. The reinvention of Kew in the last century has been as a scientific institution – although that’s not obvious from its website (here), which presents it as a jolly public attraction. But I’ll give credit where it’s due: the scientific work behind the scenes is invaluable, and is mentioned in the Kingdom of Plants. I’ll mention just two projects: the first is the use of its vast herbarium, which includes over 8 million specimens and covers 90% of all known plant species, to compile an internationally accepted list of named plants.  The results are online at theplantlist.org (click to go there) and are available and indispensable to people like me, as well as to professionals.

The second is the Millennium Seed Bank, an effort to conserve indefinitely supplies of seeds from all over the world to protect against extinction and catastrophe – here’s the Kew video about it:

The last words are from David Attenborough:

The truth is: the natural world is changing. And we are totally dependent on that world. It provides our food, water and air. It is the most precious thing we have and we need to defend it.

I thought I’d celebrate the flower as star with two stars of the music scene in France: the New Orleans-born Sidney Bechet wrote and recorded the tune Petite Fleur in France sixty years ago, in 1952.  You’d like to hear it sung in French? Pas de souci – seven years later the singer and guitarist Henri Salvador, born in French Guiana, recorded a popular version, with French lyrics by Fernand Bonifay, and here it is:

Because it’s winter and this post is about a garden, here’s a song Salvador recorded on one of his last albums, Chambre Avec Vue (2001), when he was 84. But this time it’s sung by Stacey Kent: Jardin d’hiver.

Coming up soon: Trying out a new camera, and seasonal colour.

 

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Take Five – Erodium malacoides and 5 flower websites

in memoriam Dave Brubeck,  6.12.1920 - 5.12.2012

in memoriam Dave Brubeck, 6.12.1920 – 5.12.2012

While preparing this post, I heard that Dave Brubeck had died, at the age of 91.  I got to like his music very much, though at first I had to shake off my feeling that it was a guilty pleasure: should a jazzman be as white as me, classically trained, have a tendency to play fugues and rondos, and be big with the crew-cut Yankee college crowd?  What  got me over all that was his swing, his melody, and the wonderful quartet he led for 17 years.  One thing I admire him for is his willingness to tackle issues with music: for example, with his wife Iola he created the perceptive and funny show The Real Ambassadors, performed at the 1962 Monterey Jazz Festival with Louis Armstrong.  It was a critique in jazz of the US State Department tours – a brilliant idea which was so novel it never took off.  His quartet also had the great advantage of  Paul Desmond on alto sax –  not only a perfect partner for Brubeck but also the author of one of the funniest pieces I’ve ever read on jazz. It begins:

Dawn. A station wagon pulls up to the office of an obscure motel in New Jersey. Three men enter – pasty-faced, grim-eyed, silent (for those are their names).  Perfect opening shot, before credits, for a really lousy bank robbery movie? Wrong. The Dave Brubeck Quartet, some years ago, starting our day’s work.

You can read the whole piece here – it was to have been part of a history of the group titled after a stewardess’s question: How many of you are there in the quartet?  Desmond died in 1977.

Erodium malacoides

Erodium malacoides

Dave’s group will play us out at the end, but for now let’s move on to the botany. This five-petalled pink flower is Erodium malacoides (Erodium a feuilles de mauve in French, Mediterranean stork’s bill in English). So, there are your identifying clues: it has leaves a bit like mallow (mauve), and fruits with elongated stigmas like a stork’s bill – though to be fair, so have most of this genus, this family (Geraniaceae) even. The plants have now grown after the autumn rains and are starting to flower, though their main period is the spring.

Now, I’ve lent all my printed flower guides to a friend, so this was identified with the help of some flower websites. They may not be portable if you don’t have an iPhone, but they do show what’s out there, including plants thought too common, too recently arrived or too invasive to be in the printed guides.  They also tend to be more up to date. These below are my own favourites, arranged as a top five to make your very own handy ‘cut out and keep’ guide!  They’re all on my ‘Resources and links’ page. Click on the name in bold to go to each site. This will be very tedious reading if you don’t want to put names to blooms, so you might want to skip to the end, and a track from a favourite Brubeck album.

Top of the bots: Flore Alpes

FloreAlpes

The best by quite a long way: the easiest to use, the most search options, and the best quality photos, usually several per plant, so you can see the details you need for identification: leaves, underside of flower etc. Don’t be put off by the word ‘Alpes’ in the title – the photos come from there but also Provence, Roussillon, Catalunya etc.

In Brief: Language of site: French only.  Search for flower by:  colour, family and genus, multiple criteria, Latin name, French name, flowering date, random, all plants. Number of plants/photos: 3,162 plants/15,000+ photos. Site run and photos taken by: Franck Le Driant, who also runs botanical field courses in Provence/Alps/Corsica.

In second place: Flora Catalana

FloraCatalana

This well designed site is easy to use, and while it says it concentrates on north-east Catalunya, this will include very many species common around the western Mediterranean. Other big pluses: Google Translate works pretty well here for headings and most content; and it has a huge range of images. One aim is to preserve traditional plant lore (ethnobotany), so there are interesting links and snippets of info.

In Brief: Language of site: Catalan, though Google Translate gives you a very wide range of alternatives. Search for flower by: scientific name, or name in Catalan, Spanish, French, English or Occitan. Number of plants/photos: about 2,680 species, over 18,000 photos. Site run by: ‘the volunteer work of people who love nature’, coordinated by Albert and Peter Mallol Camprubí Barnola Echenique.

In third spot: Fleurs de Roussillon

FleursRouss

An enthusiast’s labour of love with many pages of information about the département of Pyrenées-Orientales, including its flowers. Useful because it covers very similar flora to the Languedoc, and gives some fun facts, including Catalan names.

In Brief: Language of site: French only. Search for flower by: Lists of family names, scientific names (Genus and species), French names. Gives Catalan names in each entry but not in an index – though the search engine included on the site also works for Catalan names. Number of plants: 1,327 plants: one, sometimes two photos per species. Site run by: Jean Tosti, who cheefully admits he’s a keen amateur rather than a botanist.

Fourth, maybe the best for some people: Tela Botanica

telaBot

There are massive resources on this site, especially the uploads of volunteer  collaborators – but these are only as good as the contributor! Lots of documents to download and specialised pages for the scientifically-minded. Useful maps of distribution – but only according to users’ reports. All botanical content open-source.

In Brief: Language of site: French or English (icon in top right of home page), but English seems to work just for headings; most text remains in French. Search for flower by: Scientific name, French name. Number of plants/photos: Total plant number not known, over 70,000 photos! Site run by: an association based at the Institut de Botanique in Montpellier.

Fifth, but first for foragers: Plants for a Future (PFAF)

pfaf

‘Plants For A Future (PFAF) is a charitable company, originally set up to support the work of Ken and Addy Fern on their experimental site in Cornwall, where they carried out research and provided information on edible and otherwise useful plants suitable for growing outdoors in a temperate climate’. A good source for food or healing uses – where else can you search for a plant using the words ‘curdling’ or ‘antidandruff’?

In Brief: Language of site: English only. Number of plants/photos: 7,000 species worldwide claimed, most with drawing or photo from wiki sources. Search for flower by: Scientific, common English or family name, and also edible or medicinal uses. Site run by: charitable company, professionally designed site.

A wild card: Flore en ligne

FloreLigne

A resource of photos only – no text – and not restricted to the Mediterranean. I’m including it because it enables search by colour and other criteria.

In Brief: Language of site: French only. Search for flower by: scientific or French name, or family, or colour, or fruit, or foliage.  Number of plants/photos: 2,039 species and 4,026 photos – this may include flowers outside France.  Site run by: Olivier Gaubert who took most of the (very good) photos.

Enough of all that, on to the music. From the Brubeck Quartet’s Jazz Impressions of Japan (1964) – an album whose mood reflects real affection for a country they toured – this is a tune written, Brubeck says, in Kyoto: ‘ I was awakened by a sudden clap of thunder. Watching the rain drench the streets below, I thought “The city is crying”, and the words became a melody of another musical impression.’

Coming up soon:  I’m sorry I haven’t a Kew.

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Invader, or just a plant on the move? The case of Senecio inaequidens

Senecio inaequidens

Senecio inaequidens

This is a sibling of the common groundsel – a species in the same genus – but found mostly in the Mediterranean region, and on the Atlantic coast. It forms low tufts of yellow aster-like composite blooms, easily identifiable by its straight, linear leaves and ragged petals: the word ‘inaequidens’ means ‘unequal teeth’.

A tuft of Senecio in the vines

A tuft of Senecio in the vines

I’ve seen this flower a lot throughout the year, and especially lately when there’s not much other colour around. But it’s hard to find in the standard flower guides, and this may be because it’s judged to be an invasive species. Eventually I identified it with the aid of some botanic websites, and this raises two questions: do you really need an expensive illustrated flower guide these days if you have internet, and what does ‘invasive’ really mean?

The first question was also prompted by a friend in the village who wanted a guide which grouped plants by colour, and asked me to recommend one.  I think the answer is ‘Yes, you do need one…..but only one’, because of the excellent resources on the web, which I’m going to review in my next post.

The issue of ‘invasion’ was raised in my last post by the two arrivals from South Africa: Carpobrotus edulis and Aptenia cordifolia, and I wanted to explore it a little more. There seem to be three major factors in judging invasiveness: when the plant arrived, how it arrived, and what consequences there are for previously-established flora and fauna.

So, the ‘when’ factor: the divide is the Columbian date, for practical purposes 1500 AD, when world trade is reckoned to have started.  Those plants which arrived before then are ‘archaeophytes’ (old plants) – for example the poppy (Papaver rhoeas) which ‘invaded’ Europe in batches of seeds of cereals, several thousand years ago.

Poppy - familiar but invasive?

Poppy – familiar but invasive?

This post’s featured plant, Senecio inaequalidens, arrived in modern times, between 1934 and 1936 when its seeds were included in bales of sheep’s wool imported to Mazamet in southern France from the Cape of South Africa, as its French names, Séneçon du Cap, or  Séneçon de Mazamet, testify. It is thus a ‘neophyte’. New plants are more of a threat because we – and the ecosystem – have had more time to deal with the old plants, and many ‘old’ invaders are useful – apples, pears and apricots all came from the Far East.

The ‘how’ factor seems to depend on the degree of human involvement and the distance carried – seeds carried on shoes and burrs on clothing travel typically only short distances, part of a natural pattern of dispersal. The long-distance transport of Senecio, although a likely consequence of trading, was not as deliberate as that of Carpobrotus and Aptenia since they were sought as garden plants, even if their escape has been unintentional. Travellers to Australia and America will know the precautions taken at Customs to exclude non-native species of plant – a gardening friend of ours from Adelaide would have loved to take back seeds, but knew she couldn’t.

And why couldn’t she? Because of the third factor, the consequences. Plants from far away often arrive where they have no natural pests or predators, and may find a climate and soil much more beneficial than the one in which they evolved to survive. If they have drought- or frost-resistance and some clever means of propagating in addition, they can spread like wildfire and supplant native species. An example familiar in Britain is the spread of Rhododendrons in wild areas of Snowdonia, after they were brought from the Himalayas in the 19th century to put in gardens, from which they escaped. Another is goldenrod ( Solidago canadensis), brought from North America to European gardens as an ornamental plant: it displaces native vegetation of fallow land in central Europe, especially in Germany where it is classed as invasive.  The Black Locust tree (Robinia pseudoacacia) is native to the south-eastern USA, but has been widely planted in European city parks and roadsides because it tolerates pollution. Its seeds spread easily and now threaten some woodland communities especially in dry, poor soils.

What’s the bill for Senecio? Fairly resistant to frost (unlike the two succulents – we lost our pot of Aptenia last winter when it was minus seven), and to drought.  It can be pollinated either by insects or wind, so it sets a lot of seed, which can be wind-dispersed –  it doesn’t depend on an animal which might have been lacking in its ‘new’ home. The plant is toxic to neighbouring plants, and to most animals in this area, so it’s not eaten – except by one caterpillar.  All these factors mean it has spread widely, though its range seems restricted to the milder climates of the Mediterranean and the Atlantic coast to Bordeaux.

Map from tela botanica showing reports of Senecio in France

Map from tela botanica showing reports of Senecio in France

So is it an invasive nuisance? On many counts, yes: a recent arrival, from far away, brought by human agency, and evolved to survive in the poorer soils of the Cape. And that’s probably why it’s not in many wild flower guides. But in practice the consequences are, so far, manageably small in the Midi at least, where it hasn’t taken the niche of a ‘native’ plant, and doesn’t threaten the established vines, regular ploughing and herbicides restricting it to the borders of vineyards and roadsides.

Jared Diamond

Jared Diamond

To apply the label ‘invasive’ is of course a bit of a nerve, when the most invasive species of any has been Homo sapiens. I’ve just been reading Jared Diamond’s fascinating book Guns, Germs and Steel, in which he shows how humankind spread from its African origins, and how disparities between human societies arose. He makes it clear, for example, that humans first arrived on the American continent via the Bering Strait and Alaska and entered what is now North America before 11,000 BC, and within a thousand years had spread to reach Tierra Del Fuego at the tip of South America.  Along the way they hunted to extinction most of the large mammals they met, leaving little to domesticate and hence little incentive to settled, productive farming.  The same story had been played out 40,000 years before in Australia when humans first arrived in that hitherto man-less continent from Indonesia – the animals for which fossil evidence exists all vanished, presumably eaten. Hunting small species and gathering was the only option left for the people who became called Aborigines. Our literal appetite for destruction and lack of foresight as a species does not bode well for our ability to face the current and pressing environmental challenges which we ourselves have caused, such as global warming and the spread of disease. You can hear a BBC interview with Prof. Diamond if you click here – it should be available at least till the end of 2013.

The case of Senecio inaequalidens reminds me that the pattern of plant dispersal is a story of constant change – we can’t define, let alone preserve an exclusively ‘native’ flora, just as we can’t define British, French or Catalan or any other race of people.  The movement of musicians and musical styles is a further example, in fact I have a theory that music is only developing when it’s moving and finding new territories – jazz moving out of New Orleans, R&B arriving in Liverpool, Arabic and western musics meeting in medieval Spain.  And here’s another example – the travels in the mid 60s of South African musicians, such as saxophonist and composer Dudu Pukwana, forbidden to play with white musicians or for mixed audiences in their own country, thus starting a stream of African influence in jazz. Dudu Pukwana was a strong element of Chris McGregor’s Blue Notes, and then of his Brotherhood of Breath.

This is Dudu Pukwana and Spear – ‘Sonia’  – from In the Townships, 1973.

Coming up next: Top of the bots – Which botany website?

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