Editor's Note: This article was authored in 2011.
A rose by any other name is as sweet, but what about a strawberry? If its name is Marshall, it's the sweetest of them all, but chances are you've never eaten one, at least not lately. Abundant and popular in early- & mid-century, the aromatic, juicy berry has since become very rare. Now, thanks to the loving propagation of Leah Gauthier, you can plant one yourself.
To build a road, to endanger a flower—that's the controversy in southern Oregon, where botanists have identified an endemic wildflower and the U.S. Forest Service plans to open a road that runs through its habitat. This sort of negotiation is not new—defining the line that should not be crossed, as development encroaches into the natural world—but here in Oregon, the Erigeron stanselliae has a special story.
If you're in or around London this weekend, consider a visit to Plants in Peril and Losing Paradise, two exhibitions at Kew Botanical Gardens. Curated from the Shirley Sherwood Collection at Kew, the exhibition emphasizes plants from South Africa, a continent with the greatest diversity of flora and the highest numbers of plants headed for extinction.
As the summer wanes, and we think of exotic coasts not yet visited, consider Socotra, a remote island in the Indian Ocean. Considered a second Galapagos, the island is a landscape of prehistoric endemics—one third of the 800 local plants are found nowhere else. Separated from Africa's coast for 200 million years, the plants that have evolved on Socotra make the island a botanic wonderland.
An endangered species is threatened with impermanence; its inked likeness is not. This is the founding metaphor of extInked, a project conceived by the Ultimate Holding Company, an art collective in Manchester, UK. A social experiment with an ecological initiative, the project paired a hundred of the country's threatened flora, fauna, and fungi with volunteers that would become ambassadors for their species—with a tattoo to prove it.