What we killed Thursday

While I haven’t paid any attention to plant species in the last several weeks, this isn’t at all because they’ve stopped disappearing.  This week’s plant is Firmiana major, a flowering tree from China.  This is a beautiful tree and I imagine it’s even lovelier covered in flowers.

Firmiana major leaves from Arkive

Firmiana major leaves from Arkive

The aesthetic appeal of this tree is why it didn’t go extinct when its habitat was converted to cropland – it was planted and tended around Chinese villages and temples. This tree is native to Yunnan and southwestern Sichuan, and the Guangzhou Botanical Garden has at least one of these trees if you’re in the region.

One of the things I loved about China was how loved and valued plants and gardens were.  The apartment complex I lived in was surrounded by a sea of concrete, but there were raised gardens between the buildings that everyone in the complex tended, fussed over, and congregated around.

chinese chess

Chinese chess by the communal garden

I think growing your own garden, even if it is just in pots on your balcony or at a tiny plot in your community garden, is a good thing to do.  I find it relaxing and satisfying.  Growing vegetables in the summer is much cheaper than buying them in the store.  Most importantly, gardening causes us to be more aware of the environment around us – the weather and climate, the soils, the plants we didn’t plant in our garden that end up there anyway…  I think this lack of awareness (and subsequent appreciation) of our environment is part of why we’re having such a hard time convincing people that we need to do something about environmental degradation and climate change.

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