a-plant-a-day-23

Brown-eyed evening primrose: Camissonia claviformis, Onagraceae (evening primrose family)

In the last instagram post, it was mentioned in the comments that a great deal of information published concerning traditional use of plants may be inaccurate or lacking. If we consider the early trajectories of anthropology, and the imbalanced relationship between observer and subject, it's easy to see how such nuanced, ingrained knowledge could be misinterpreted or lost entirely. If the historical anecdotal information we rely on was gathered by outside observers—presumably academics who would return to their offices to compile and compose, long after leaving the field—then we're looking at a very incomplete picture.

And with this plant-a-day project, I feel that I'm guilty of the same charges—writing and photographing without a complicated and complete understanding. Am I just mimicking the structure of colonial anthropology? Gah. 

I try to diversify my perspective by cross-referencing between several of these types of human-use books, a couple field guides and some web resources I'd consider reputable. But still, I feel that with my background (went to school for art, twice), I'm often in the dark. Where to start? 

As far as this little roadside attraction is concerned, it's a pretty pink-stemmed annual that, when I initially spotted it, thought it was a radish of some sort. The basal leaves were so similar to the radishes I had grown in my garden in St. Louis, that I actually dug one up, wondering if I wouldn't find a bulbous root to slice and salt. Since then, long stems have bolted to form top-heavy clusters of 4-petaled white flowers. Funny hot-dog shaped pods shoot out along the main stalk, and little red okra-shaped pods dangle from the terminus. It's got a lot going on.