Fantasist's Scroll

Fun, Fiction and Strange Things from the Desk of the Fantasist.


Flora Inspiration

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

Did you ever wonder where the bannana came from?

What about the orange? Or nutmeg? Or coffee? Economic botany is a pretty important part of our lives, though, we might not even be aware of it consciously. I started to get interested in this aspect of herbiculture when I went looking for a replacement for coffee in a fantasy setting. I was suprised to find that there are actual classes taught about economic botany! In fact, one of the best resources is an online economic botany text book at the UCLA botanic garden’s website.
Another “quest” was to find out more about lacquer. I found several references regarding this closely guarded Chinese technology, but the basics can be summed up here. Lacquer was originally made from the sap of a tree. It’s really an amazing substance, too. It makes wood fire-proof and otherwise wear-resistant. It hardens rather quickly and completely, but the Chinese artisans that first started using the plastic-like substance found that letting a certain kind of crab “swim” in the stored mixture keeps it fluid for days longer than normal. For years, the Chinese had a strangle-hold on the trees that produced lacquer sap and, therefore, the lacquerware market. That market dominance was eventually broken, of course, but it makes for an interesting plot or sub-plot.

So, there’s something to think about the next time world creation comes up. What plants fit where and why? Who uses them and how does that effect the rest of the world? And, really, these are just the tip of the iceberg on economic botany. The limit is, literally, the author’s imagination.

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