A focus on beauty, not on loss

Vellereophyton dealbatum (White Cudweed)

Cudweed (Vellereophyton dealbatum), a little noticed but exquisite weed in Tasmania

Out of necessity, this post is going to have mild philosophical overtones as it points at an emotional journey I believe that most, if not all, naturalists take.

As a naturalist there can be a tendency to want to focus on what is being lost. The evidence of this is going to be everywhere. I have spent untold hours giving thought to and feeling rotten about plant extinction and the threats faced by may native plants: Climate change, irresponsible land owners, forestry, invasive weeds, etc, etc.

However, after much wallowing I realized the futility in focusing on the reality of all those facts.

The overriding desire of a naturalist is to appreciate nature. In appreciation one finds solace and beauty. One is in tune.

To give excessive thought to destruction or perceived threats is mentally and emotionally pathological to the innermost nature of a naturalist.

Wilsonia rotundifolia (Roundleaf Wilsonia)

Roundleaf Wilsonia (Wilsonia rotundifolia), a threatened plant of salty places

The more passionate the naturalist, the keener his awareness, perhaps in scientifically quantifiable numbers, what biological treasures are out there. Likewise, the easier it is to start taking stock of the decline of a species.

Yet, in choosing to be INNUNDATED by facts of that which is unwanted we degrade our experience of enjoying beauty.

Make no mistake. I do not mean we should tolerate the destruction of the natural landscape. There certainly are individuals whose lot is to work for the preservation of nature. There is a fine line to draw between naturalists and conservationist.

What I do mean however, is that whether or not we take a proactive conservationist stance we can choose to visit the physical and emotional places that sing to us and not mourn (for long) and be bitter over those that have been lost.

Ozothamnus scutellifolius (Buttonleaf Everlastingbush)

Buttonleaf Everlastingbush (Ozothamnus scutellifolius), a Tasmanian endemic and nothing short of a botanical curiosity

Whatever the state of the natural resources, I want to continue to take beautiful pictures of plants, whether they be native or adventive. I want to appreciate their time and space. I want to learn from them, be in awe of the evolutionary journeys they have taken, and know them for all they have become.

Those that have been lost to extinction, I will acknowledge and appreciate that they once graced this beautiful island, in a more abundant and glorious state. I will not lament (not for long at least) their lost but I shall honor their memory.

And extinction is not always an absolute. Just recently, Hibbertia rufa, a plant previously thought extinct, was rediscovered. It will be events like these I will choose to give my attention to. I imagine that in the field, such delightful findings can only occur by grace and by an attention to beauty. And are not all plants beautiful?

It has been said before that ‘Truth is beauty and beauty is truth. That is all ye need to know’.

I cannot agree more.

About David Tng

I am David Tng, a hedonistic botanizer who pursues plants with a fervour. I chase the opportunity to delve into various aspects of the study of plants. I have spent untold hours staring at mosses and allied plants, taking picture of pollen, culturing orchids in clean cabinets, counting tree rings, monitoring plant flowering times, etc. I am currently engrossed in the study of plant ecology (a grand excuse to see 'anything I can). Sometimes I think of myself as a shadow taxonomist, a sentimental ecologist, and a spiritual environmentalist - but at the very root of it all, a "plant whisperer"!
This entry was posted in Introduced Plants, Miscellaneous, Plant Appreciation, Threatened Plants and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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