Friday, February 24, 2012

Plant Graffiti

Z and M may be in love, but did they have to deface a plant to let everyone know? I don't think so, but maybe I'm not romantic enough. Or maybe I like plants too much. Or maybe I really believe that plants feel pain, as in The Secret Life of Plants. Whatever it is, I don't appreciate this art form practiced on plants.
This cactus, in the desert house in the Belle Isle Conservatory  in  Detroit, is I think, an Opuntia ficus-indica. Who was the first person to decide that they should carve their names on this cactus? How did they know that it would heal over and callous this way? Were they afraid of being caught? Did they care if they were? This is a public garden and I wonder how the thousands of people who see this each year, feel about this. Do they think it is romantic, cute, or do they think it horrible? How much more can this plant take, before it decides it has been cut too much?
When did the practice of carving names in plants begin? Who found out that using a knife on beech tree bark  would be there forever?
I just found out about the autograph plant, very popular in Florida. The Clusia rosea  has thick, leathery leaves that people scratch their names on. Guests at people's homes are encouraged to do this and have their pictures taken next to it. This can also be used as a houseplant, here in the Northern climes, but I can tell you, people wouldn't be scratching their names on it, in my home.
I have to admit, though, that I have seen this done to pumpkins and think it is quite ingenious. So, does that make me a hypocrite? I guess it does. If something is going to be thrown on the compost heap in November, I guess I feel, no harm done. But, on the other hand, beech trees and this poor Opuntia, live for a very long time, defaced and scarred for all to see.


  1. Welcome to BLOTANICAL
    Un Saludo

  2. I went back over a number of your recent post. Each month I pick one or two new blogs to follow. I like yours so will now follow it. Especially like the one back ( I think on January 16th ) on African Violets. I grew those as a young kid (10 years old) and that is what started me into plants. You are the only blog I have on house plants so I will enjoy it. I live on the shores of Lake Michigan with beautiful gardens outside and many many plants inside! Jack

  3. Thank you, Gardens at Waters East. I hope you enjoy it!