Well it seems like it’s that time again so I would like to introduce you to the plant of my current time/week/month/life/is time not just a concept anyway/my new love interest….I say love but maybe it’s actually a slight obsession…You know when you see someone and they look a bit strange but in a really beautiful way and you just can’t stop staring at them and then it becomes a little bit addictive and you just want to follow them and know all about their life? Just me? okay…awkwarrd! WELL anywaysss….I totally have that right now but with a plant. The plant in question is the weird as fuck yet completely beautiful as fuck Dendroseris litoralis. I have a profound need to be around it and follow it as it moves throughout the glasshouses and watch it as I wait for it to to flower so thought I would do a little detective work of my own.
Boy was it worth it! In fact not only is this plant completely strange and beautiful but is also totally rare as fuck too and not in the Northern Irish sense of the word rare…..’you’re ma’s pure rare mate’…no more like in the ‘Your mother is a rare and beautiful flower’ way. This plant has literally been brought back from the brink of extinction, when in the 1980s there were expected to only be 3 plants left in the wild and is now critically endangered on the IUCN redlist. Hence our dear Dendroseris litoralis is more commonly residing in botanical gardens. Unfortunately as well as being totally beautiful this plant is also deemed to be extremely delicious, hence it’s common name the cabbage tree….don’t be fooled by the name though kids and get your guessing caps on (is that a saying?) put your minds to the test (AND DON’T CHEAT, NOBODY LIKES A CHEATER!) and guess the plant family….go on it’s fun I promise! Top tip….look at the flower 😉
so…..I BET you guessed Brassicaceae or cabbage family if you got side tracked by those delectable looking leaves? WRONGGGG….this wee fella is actually a proud member of the compositae family (that’s the daisy family my budding amatuear botanists) Just look at that THE BLOODY BIG DAISY WEIRDO! I just LOVE it SO much!!
However the story doesn’t stop there for this quirky little creation, oh no my friends! For this big daisy was also thought to have been what our dear Alexander selkirk sustained himself on when marooned on an uninhabited island in the Juan Fernández Islands off the Chilean coast, well that and goats, lots of goats. More interestingly these goats did not only sustain his body but also his mind as in his memoirs he apparently trained these goats for company and when the mood would take him, he would dance with his little companions to pass the time….I bet you he came back with some kick ass dance moves!
Unfortunately it is expected that the grazing of these goats is what has led to the vulnerability of this plant, due to it being native only to this Island. By the way guys if you haven’t guessed already this Island is now called Robinson Crusoe Island and it was Selkirks ‘ordeal’ that inspired this tale hailed as ‘one of the first tales of British colonisation’ but we’ll not get into that just yet……that is for another post in the pipeline.
But really the main thing I would hope you take away from this post is that if you are lucky enough to see this beautiful specimen in the wild then don’t be a goat and eat it….just give it a wee kiss like me, unless maybe you’re starving to death and there’s no corpses of your fellow seafarers to sustain you in the near vicinity, but even then I think you should just give it a big kiss and die happily knowing you got to kiss the weirdest daisy in the world, I know I would!
Just like this little Firecrown hummingbird, also a native to the Island and an important pollinator for OUR favourite plant, and you know how that famous saying goes….if you’re not sure do it like the hummingbird does!