Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Hello clouds, hello sky, hello weeds

PA100475-9_stitch clouds
Munson and I escorted Steph around the periphery of the farm this afternoon. None of the regular human residents of the farm are native Europeans (except for baby Zelie) so we’re not fully acquainted with all the flora. Identifying plant types is one of the skills that complements good archaeological knowledge, so Steph was a great asset in noting not only various herbs and berries, but also some of the wild grasses.

Even the drought-depleted ponds are full of interest to the naturally-inclined. As we approached the pond below, we could see a large coypu running across the far shore, and then moments later a rabbit bounding in the opposite direction. Steph also found ample boar tracks in the mud.
Another pond was covered in a low forest of tobacco-like plants, which we later identified as the hallucinogenic and very toxic Datura stramonium also known as Jimson weed, thorn apple, devil’s trumpet … the list goes on. Apart from anything else it stinks, so I’m quick to demolish whatever specimens pop up around the houses and corral.

The more easily identifiable reddish pokeweeds (phytolacca) pop up around my pond quite frequently and are one of my first targets when I have a hoe handy. I’ve seen ornamental forms in street planters in towns around the Gers. In some places the plant is known as inkberry and the juice of the berries was used by American Civil War soldiers to write letters home. It’s been suggested that the US Constitution was also written in this ink but it was actually iron-gall ink.

Datura stramonium pokeweed

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