Botany Notes.

  • Beans only live 4-6 years.
    By the 3rd year production goes down.
    Cinnamon good for high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes.
    Pepper is rain pollinated in May.

Notes from my trips to Belize are messy. I start out trying to keep them dated and neat and inside of the Moleskin notebook I buy before each trip. I keep a thin, sturdy pen inside the notebook, and a few mini envelopes in the folder slot, in case I want to take some seeds back to my lodging for further inspection. I am very prepared.

It’s been 8 months since my last trip to Belize, and the Moleskin is almost empty – well the pages are. The folder is stuffed with ripped pieces of paper, rum-drink-ringed napkins, old printed out emails and receipts. All of which are scribbled with notes – some drunken – all containing magnificent plant information that was generously given by local growers I’ve befriended. The notes are smudged and dirty – some I have even blown my nose in or wiped sweat with from being on hot, humid jungle hikes. The notes are authentic and real plant info.

I don’t get the typical, “Did you know Vanilla is an orchid?” I get the good stuff.

I get enthusiastic technical info on how exactly to wrap the Vanilla vines around the host tree in order to get the most production for the right amount of years. Exactly how to hand pollinate. How to drink enough grated Nutmeg and hot water to soothe an upset stomach, but not too much to cause hallucinations (did you know Nutmeg can induce hallucinations?!).

Like I said, I get the good stuff.

On one visit I went to Belize about 2 years after a devastating hurricane. I was staying at a jungle lodge off the Hummingbird Highway, where the gardens and natural surroundings were nothing short of gorgeous. But the owner (and fellow plant dork I met about 30 minutes into my stay) began to tear up and cry as she described the destruction that the garden and established trees faced those two days of the hurricane. She talked about how she and the staff ran around to be sure that guests were safe and warm in one main building, tried to stabilize the huts and other structures, and gathered food and plenty of water. She said the whole time she sobbed because she could do nothing to stop the plants being ripped a part and the trees from falling down. Trees hundreds of years old, that served as welcome protection from lesser storms, were now being plucked and tossed. Old clusters of hard to grow orchids were slowly burnt from the wind one the first day, then completely torn to shreds the next. With not even a single white root attached to the tree, all gone.

I had only known the person about an hour when she told me this story, but I completely empathized and teared up with her. Plant people, you know… We are all very emotional.

It’s tough to not have an emotional attachment to the things you grow and love. They are little beings that are no different then a dog or a cat – except they just can’t climb into bed with you at night.

(Well, maybe a Tillandsia?)

As I try to decipher my notes from various trips, I look fondly on the messy, the misspelled, and the grammatically incorrect (as is everything I write) pieces of paper. They are written hastily, with love, in pain, tired and excited. My husband Matt likens my “plant talks” in Belize to that of drinking out of a fire-hose – way to much to to drink in at once.

Belize botany notes gardening half moon bay half moon bay landscaper Jenn in the Jungle Jenn Segale Jennifer Lee Segale jungle notes

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