Jagged, pointy, and hard but also smooth, curved, and symmetrical. How can something have such seemingly disagreeing characteristics and also be a part of one single organism? I discovered there were opposite traits on not just one, but many types of greens. Here are three of them in focus.

My observation started in the late gray afternoon in the woods of Western PA. I was observing the plants around me that seemed really to be stagnant because there was no sun to give them life. But the closer I got to all of the plants, the more I noticed how much they were expanding, growing, and blossoming. But not everything was colorful and beautiful to the common eye. I noticed many had abrupt shapes that seemed a bit more rough and tough.

A thorny, long, straight bundle of stems caught my eye first as it had bright white thorns sticking out of the lanky dull green branch. Sitting just down from the the thorns are blushing little buds – I’m not quite sure what they are going to be, but they look friendly enough.

Thorns are white and from what I’ve read, they are considered to be a part of the stem or a modified version of the branch. Why would they be white? I feel like they should be red – like a warning – not white – like an innocent bride… but there has to be a purpose. White makes them stand out from the main branch making them more visible. This may be to warn herbivores from consuming this plant.  It also could protect the buds from being destroyed. If the buds were eaten or destroyed, then this plant might not be able to survive.

What about the wildlife that DOES get close? The thorn will stick to the fur of approaching animals. If these pointy thorns stick to the animals’ fur, it might allow the DNA of the plant to spread around to other areas that might otherwise be impossible! Transportation becomes one of the functions of the pointy thorns.

A tangled, twisted, arched, ruby grouping of buds was visible on several plants. The groupings make the color more vibrant. If each bud was on it’s own, it would not be as energetic and attractive.

These buds are almost begging to be eaten or pollinated. They do have slightly pointy ends though – almost like they are teasing the hungry insect or animal into eating them and then getting stuck in their throat. An herbal remedy of some kind?

Then there is the third type of strategy – a nest of intertwining, layering branches. Instead of just growing straight up, these branches all grown over and under one another to create a roof for it’s roots. It’s almost like the branches are growing adjacent to one another in order to protect something sacred underneath. It would be hard for any organism, insect or outside plant to get to the bottom of this. This “roof” is protecting the nourishment that gets to the roots – the earth they grow in and the possible the water that is stored in the roots. The yellow flowers are along the the outer layer and underneath is just the gray, plain branches.

Three very unique designs of plants all working toward staying alive and making sure they survive – whether it is protecting their “food”, ensuring they spread their seeds, or providing healing.

April 14, 2011

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