Food For Thought?
September 29, 2001 8:06 AM   Subscribe

Food For Thought? A beautifully-done site that's both a catalogue and compendium of information on plants with legendary powers. (Mandrake root, anyone?) But is this kind of ethnobotany a useful discipline? Should we be cultivating exotic species just for their trippiness?
posted by holgate (16 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Why not?
posted by Postroad at 8:18 AM on September 29, 2001

As long as there's a War on Plants ... sure.

We've gotta have something to do before the smallpox hits.
posted by at 8:22 AM on September 29, 2001

Don't remind me of my experience with "American" Mandrake (May Apple) root. It was in the 70s while on a search for herbal highs. Forty-eight hours of stomach cramps and misery.

But we were smoking Lobelia, pinion needles and Scotch Broom stamens the next week!

Slow learners.
posted by wiinga at 9:08 AM on September 29, 2001

gnosticgarden is a great place. Personally I like the
Angel's Trumpet the best. It's just a great plant to
have around. The smells at night are AWESOME!

You also have places like that sell a few
types of poppy seeds and has great info, to any
number of places that sell shroom kits, Cactaceae,
and Cannabis
posted by BlitzK at 9:22 AM on September 29, 2001

Sure, Postroad. I suppose what worries me is that as with the salvia thread, you get people (heya, wiinga) growing stuff "because it's a legal high", something bad happens, and it's slapped on the banned list.

I'm fascinated by the subject, though, having read lots of 18th-century medical books with, um, interesting prescriptions. And I like the idea of preserving these rare species because they treat something more than the body...
posted by holgate at 10:00 AM on September 29, 2001

My comment was slightly cynical, please don't take it literally.

I've been fascinated with salvia recently, and I have read much about it - but I have no particular interest to try it for a "legal buzz". I have been taken by the many profound experiences people have had with it, and view it as more of a sacramental herb.
posted by at 10:11 AM on September 29, 2001

An addictive little site. I'll definitely be ordering what must be MeFi's potion of choice, the aptly named Mimosa Hostilis.

Holgate: Not surprisingly, ethnobotany is big in Brazil but a quick google/gargle only produced hundreds of course descriptions, so nothing to offer there. Here in Lisbon there are a lot of thriving "ervanárias", some dating back to the 16th Century, with dark corridors full of mahogany drawers loaded with strange-smelling weeds.
I've been tempted a few times but headaches resulted every single time. I even got poisoned once - by "erva do príncipe" - and had to be taken to a hospital, as my entire digestive system seized up. There I was glad to discover they keep catalogues of all these hundreds of herbs along with the corresponding antidotes.
The doctor helpfully said "one has to know the correct dosage". So there you are.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 11:43 AM on September 29, 2001

See also: the JLF Catalog, the Lycaeum, DanceSafe, and the Shroomery.
posted by endquote at 12:04 PM on September 29, 2001

Thanks, endquote. ( I feel a double post coming on, so I'll artfully change the text to camouflage the blunder in case my previous comment belatedly appears).
I learn from the JLF Catalog front page that the anti-terrorist squad are already busy busting into the mushroom peddlers' dark caverns, in search of...what? Relief? Fungicidal bombs?
Pass the Canesten, please.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 12:16 PM on September 29, 2001

Shrooms are suprisingly easy to grow with about 40 bucks of start-up money and a little research. You can even get spore syringes through mail-order.
posted by ttrendel at 12:22 PM on September 29, 2001

Shrooms are suprisingly easy to grow with about 40 bucks of start-up money and a little research. You can even get spore syringes through mail-order.
posted by ttrendel at 12:23 PM on September 29, 2001

Is there an echo in here?
posted by ttrendel at 12:25 PM on September 29, 2001

Yeah, A Close Personal Friend grew Salvia leaf fell off and it was left on a counter where it dried up, then got put in a pipe and after one hit, the living room instantly grew feathered scales and ribs ala the navigator scene in Alien. Jay Leno was on TV and said "ooh, another one's just turned telepathic on us. let's send the Mind Cops over now!" Philip K Dick indeed! This poor person ran to the door to ask the neighbors for help but couldn't work the lock. Lucky that the mental state & panic lasted only 3 minutes. Very not a social drug, very very scary, something requiring on premise baby sitters to avoid physical injury. As for the DEA's attentions, there's about a gazillion psychoactive plants out there--and ther in so many gardens that the genii's are out of a thousand bottles. Try the Lyceaum and see...And outside of beer, marijuan, coffee, 'shrooms and coca leaves, if they were available anymore, any drug used as a social drug is wasted. Ecstasy used in therapy or an entheogenic quest is one thing but at a rave--Wotta waste!
posted by y2karl at 2:07 PM on September 29, 2001

Oh! What a wonderful thread.

I suppose what worries me is that as with the salvia thread, you get people (heya, wiinga) growing stuff "because it's a legal high", something bad happens, and it's slapped on the banned list.

There is so much to choose from, it would be nearly impossible to ban all of it. A lot of common annuals and perennials can be recreationally used. I have yet to find an interest in testing any of them out, but I probably have over one hundred plants that could be used if one chose to.

And Jimson Weed...that would be fun to ban. It is everywhere. There are six or seven plants in the back of my yard near the fence that are growing wild.

But plant-banning is popular anyway. Some states such as California are going nuts with banned plants, many banned for being "invasive" where they really are not at all invasive. The real thing I fear is a law banning all non-native plants, invasive or not. I've encountered far too many people that like the idea of such a law. ::shudders::
posted by bargle at 2:58 PM on September 29, 2001

I think that most drug banning subscribes to the "broken windows" theory- focus on the most visible drug abuse, like the raver/exstacy thing that will make screechy parents feel "something's being done", and worry about the exotic- entheogen- growing hippies much later. While there are definitely plenty of people who hate the idea of anyone using plants in a 'funny' way, for the most part when you get to the point of people having to carefully find and then cultivate these relatively unknown or exotic plants, it gets out of the "consumerist" niche of drug use and into the "gourmands". The kind of people who use words like "entheogen" are a group that tends to not do crazy things that draw attention- taking care to make sure their substance is safe and well-researched, and to have a guide or "babysitter" when they trip in case anything goes wrong.

That is, until someone starts synthesizing something like a DMT/MAOI combo in a cheap, mass-produced pill form... that could really be a nightmare. :(
posted by hincandenza at 9:04 PM on September 29, 2001

Just to add to the whole MeFi Public Service Announcement mood in the thread :

Mazatec Garden is another source of interesting plantlife (this one in America) and, slightly tangentially, here's an interesting article on the tumor-shrinking properties of THC.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:49 PM on September 29, 2001

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