The planet is home to more than 300,000 species of blooming plant species. Of all animals, the only ones that compete are beetles with this number. There are more fern species than birds, as well as more mints than mammals, plus more beans than butterflies. In total volume, plants comprise eighty-two percent of the living things on the land around the world.
We are scientists studying plants as well as co-founders and directors of Let’s Botanize, an educational non-profit that utilizes the life of plants to teach biology, ecology and evolution. In the last several years we’ve witnessed an increasing blossoming of the botany and the popularity of hobbies that involve plants growing. From the cultivation of house plants and foraging in search of wild edibles and gardening in the outdoors, the appreciation for plants is increasing.
Botanizing is a way of interacting with plants to appreciate and observe the living creatures similar to birding but with subjects that remain still. If you botanize, walking in the woods can become an unforgettable experience that is shared by a variety of species. Learning about the nonhumans around you can be a means of engaging with the changing world.
Collecting plants and colonialism
Botanizing has a long and tangled background. Humans have been studying and categorizing plants for hundreds of years and often to find out what they are able to consume or grow.
In the early days, when Europeans started exploring and colonizing other regions of the globe, they were keen on finding plants that were beneficial for food, medicine, or even for other purposes. For instance, in beginning of the 17th century, Dutch East India Company forced the colonization of The Banda Islands in what is today Indonesia to control the production and trade in the nutmeg ( Myristica fragrans).
In the 19th century of England, Victorians became obsessed with plants, particularly ferns. The frenzied behavior became called Pteridomania or the fern fever. It was a time of the peak of European imperialism around the world that included the widespread collection of important plants from distant regions.
However, in recent times, a number of botanic gardens as well as arboreta – which are gardens that focus on shrubs and trees – have changed their focus to education for the public and scientific research, as well as conservation of biodiversity. They are great tools for learning how to plant.
About 40% of the species of plants in the world are in danger of being extinct, which includes many species that haven’t been discovered yet.
Why does it take so long to botanize?
Plants supply the raw materials that make up the houses we live in, as well as the food we consume and the oxygen that we breathe. Without them, human life as we are aware of it wouldn’t be possible.
Yet, many people view plants as backdrops to the world instead of an integral part of it. Researchers and educators refer to this phenomenon as the disparity in awareness of plants, which is a common cognitive bias that causes people to ignore the range and significance of plants.
Staghorn sumac ( rhus typhina) taking in the last traces of nutrients that are escaping it’s dying leaves during a cold morning in autumn as it prepares for its winter slumber. Let’s Botanize, Inc., CC BY-ND
Research has demonstrated the benefits of exercising outdoors within natural green spaces or in the vicinity of plants. Many traditional western physicians are beginning to suggest walking in nature to ease stress and improve physical health. Botanical walks can give you a motivation to be outside and spend some time watching the tiny structures of plants can be a wonderful exercise in mindfulness.
Botanizing is also an excellent alternative to spend the time with social media. Many experts have noted the online world has become personalized by algorithms that every user is a part of their own worldview and has led to more aggressive and violent behavior. Botanizing offers the chance to break away from these specialized worlds and fully engage with the local nonhuman and human communities.
Since plants are the basis of all life on Earth, taking care of plants is a method to take care of our planet. Botanizing is a great way to create changes in other areas of our lives that are geared towards sustainability.