The Hidden Dangers of Botany

Pursuit of botany starts off innocently enough: maybe you are a gardener interested in learning about plant biology, maybe you are a survivalist wanting to learn about edible plants, or maybe you are a wildlife lover who wants to attract hummingbirds to your yard. Whatever the reason, you need to make sure you are fully prepared for the havoc you may wreak upon your life.  Before you read that gardening book, click that link, or go to that native plant conference, take the time to educate yourself about the hidden dangers of botany:

  1. You can’t un-see the scenery.

Like walking in on your parents, plant identification is one of those things that you can’t un-see.  Before you learn about botany, the world around you consists of only vague categories of greenery.  Afterwards, plant scientific names practically scream themselves at you every time you go outside. Sure you might feel “more engaged with the natural world” by knowing how to properly address the surrounding flora, but once you learn those names, you will never be able to traverse the countryside in blissful botanic ignorance.

How your brain interprets the roadside before learning botany…
…and afterwards.
  1. You increase your risk of accidents.

Your new-found plant identification skills will also put you at greater risk for bodily harm. You may skin your knees while climbing logs to photograph ferns. Wildflowers off the side of the road may catch your eye and cause you to swerve your vehicle dangerously. Even on the water you are not safe.  Plants along the water’s edge will call you like sirens, and threaten to entrap your kayak on snags.

Well, you see, Officer, there was this stunning patch of asters along the side of the road and…
  1. You will start to hoard plants.

Each new group of plants you learn about will become The-Most-Awesome-Plants-Ever and lead to a cycle of never-ending garden expansion.  Sure gardening is great way to exercise in the great outdoors, but you will always be tortured by the desire for “just one more plant.”

I’m sure I can find room for these somewhere…
  1. Your relationships will be strained.

Once you learn a bit about botany you will want to share some of your knowledge with your friends and family.  Occasionally, you may wow them with fun facts about some unusually useful/poisionous/carnivorous plant, but most the time you will simply become a source of exasperation.  Your friends will roll their eyes as you point out (yet another) wildflower on your walk together, your  significant other will sigh as you bring home (yet another) species of plant to add to your over-brimming garden, and your kids will become annoyed that (yet again) you are taking so long looking at all of the plants. While vacationing, more fun loving people will want to go to overpriced theme parks, but you will be torturing your family and friends by suggesting (yet another) trip to a botanic garden.

Come on y’all! There’s five more acres of gardens around the corner!
  1. You will want to learn more science.

Botany is the ‘gateway science’ to obsession with a wide range of natural sciences.  Once it has you in its clutches, botany may start you off on the path to wanting to learn entomology, ornithology, or, Lord-forbid, mycology.  It may even send you off into the esoteric realms of soil chemistry or meteorology.  The madness will simply compound itself.

Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.

If, despite all these dangers, you still want to pursue botany, go right ahead. Learning botany may indeed help you grow prize-winning dahlias, get free food from your yard, or become a better steward of the earth.  Just know what you are getting into, and don’t say I didn’t warn you.


55 thoughts on “The Hidden Dangers of Botany

  1. They forgot a few:
    You can’t watch a movie if the plants don’t match the place where the story takes place… A movie about New England should not have native California plants in it!

    You can’t go home again because all you see are invasive exotics all around you!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. and if things that don’t bloom at the same time are blooming at the same time….oy! i even have this
      problem at the flower show! 🙂


    2. I am totally and proudly guilty as charged!! Got a life sentence with no hope of parole 😀


  2. If this isn’t me, I don’t know what to say, ha ha! I am still learning plant ID-ying, but on walks and hikes, I feel the endorphin surge as I recognize plants that I remember. And the hoarding…well, thanks for the write up. It is good to know one is not alone.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ahahahahahahaha! Ahahahahahahaha! Oh, this is soooo me. Wish I had a penny for every time I looked in the rear-view mirror in the spring only to see a long line of cars behind me because I’ve slowed to a crawl. Massive bonus points for using Legos! You might enjoy seeing what my Lego Loki has been up to. He frequently posts about my “stupid” plant habits…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This post really hits the nail on the head. My fear is getting stopped for a minor traffic violation and the officer wonders why my vehicle is littered with dry plant leaves!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I ve been a horticulturist for 20 years and the green around us still amazes me…and yes it does get you in trouble sometimes…and friends get tired of hearing you babble of in latin naming bromeliads and such…but its a daily adventure for me….

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What about when you lose your hiking buddies because it takes you about an hour to go a 1/4 mile. I just don’t understand why they don’t want to look at spores!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. LOL!!!! Love the lego illustration, well done! & so true. I’m especially guilty of botanizing at 100km / hr. And of walking too slow on a path. Also when i field trip on my own i take pictures of our car in the most precarious positions to bring back hone to scare my husband (navigating between 2 ft ruts in the road, water up to the door from swamps and streams that have taken the road). Thank you for validating my expereince :D. PS: Your post also reminds me of two quotes:.
    Acclaimed poet and novelist Elizabeth Smart tells how gardening madness struck her suddenly in 1967 “like a cold or an unsuitable love affair.” – Alice Van Wart
    Had I ever, until that moment, seen flowers at all? – Gabrielle Roy


  8. OMG! I’m not alone! This is great teaching material and I hope us plant nuts will make good use of it! I’m teaching an intro to native plants tomorrow and will use this to begin the process of indoctrination. Thank you for writing this up!


  9. Despite the current fad for “geekiness” being fashionable, it only seems to extend to geeks who are into technology (maybe biotech) but not botany. Sigh. Well you have diagnosed my condition accurately anyway!


  10. I studied botany, forest ecology, ichthiology and ornithology….. And, I pretty much remember every scientific name I’ve ever learned, even as far back as 37 years ago…… I’m now just an abnoxious geek :)!
    Many thanks to the LA Woman for sharing this excellent article….. may your Artemesia peacefully coexist with your Celtis and Cercocarpus!


  11. “Your new-found plant identification skills will also put you at greater risk for bodily harm.” Scrambling down a steep hillside to photograph some pretty foliage – ooops, that was the left medial ligament that just tore . . . and I’m only 10km from the car . . .


  12. I am a seedsperson and a lego fan. (The garden in Winterhaven Fl is great). I nearly died laughing as I have been trying to explain away my distracted driving as safe as I look for palm, oaks, ornamental grasses and other neat plants. Love the plant hording I just added a Baobab to replace my giant Sequoia that died from too much heat.


  13. Yes, yes, yes. Nearly all the above except never had (or came near having) a wreck because of botanizing. Yes, it did lead us to buy a piece of land (in bad shape) and that led to not only restoring native vegetation, but (in my case) getting into entomology (because look at all those bugs in the cactus flowers! What ARE they? And is that a moth or a butterfly? Etc.) And lichens…good heavens what I thought was bark is actually a patchwork of lichens covering every square centimeter of this hackberry trunk: pink, sage green, different shades of gray, and that’s not counting the ones with the curly and branchy bits…)


  14. I am a zoologist, I should write on the hidden dangers of zoology.
    Brilliantly funny and utterly accurate article. Even though I did my masters in zoology, I actually wanted to study immunology, pathology, mycology, psychology and botany. I sometimes self-study the aforementioned subjects. Do write more articles about botany. I would love to learn more about the kingdom plantae. 🙂


      1. Entomology is an awesome subject. During my Bachelors, our Entomology professor was spectacular! She was kind and I just loved her. We did study the plant-insect interactions during one semester. It was an awesome experience because the experiments were marvelous. Then tying everything with insects and environment (ecology/ecosysytem) was heartwarming.


  15. An acquired driving skill is fixing the peripheral vision of the left eye on the center line while scanning along the right side of the roadway. Best done on low speed lightly traveled routes.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. That explains everything! Is there a support group? We had to move to 4 acres so I had room for bromeliads, stapeliads, roses, native gardens, shadehouses, vege gardens, fruit trees, animals and 2 acres of bush. The bush is a constant source of learning more about our native plants, fungi, birds and marsupials and yes there are also carnivorous plants. I called my playground “Botanic Obsession”. Thankyou for this arricle and happy gardening!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I’m a botanist myself and I can relate to every point that you’ve mentioned.😂 It’s kinda weird to people who don’t actually know what goes through in a botanist’s mind but when you really become intimate with plants, you’ll know for sure what it’s like to be a botanist😊😊

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I have no garden so there’s one evil that I can avoid !

    Another one: Having to correct people that all the nice “native” wildflowers and trees like “California” pepper and black mustard are terrible invasives and should be burned.


  19. Yes! Number one resonated with me! I just learned to identify dogwoods (and even blogged about it) 😂😂😂 my drives and interaction with nature are now a lot more intense !! Can’t wait to read more!


  20. Same for rocks! Beware!! I was hiking from north to south rim of the Grand Canyon and at the bottom I found some particularly fabulous rocks I loaded into my backpack. My hiking companions were duly impressed though incredulous that I was going to haul them the whole way out. They are on my coffee table. Love em! Good news for botanists though…you can always throw some rocks in your yard!!:)


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