Saturday, August 27, 2005

The Cult Of The Cycads!

No, The Cult Of The Cycads, is not the title of an obscure AIP (American Independent Pictures) flick or an early Roger Corman film. It is the title of an article in the New York Times about obsessive cycad collectors and the criminals who prey on them.

Now while I was more interested in palm trees and orchids (btw - does anyone have a copy of the classic - The Orchid Hunters - I can re-read?) during my earliest horticultural phases, I quickly fell under the spell of cycads in the very early 1970's jungles of Columbia (home, by the way, to the world's tallest palm tree - the Quindio Wax Palm, not that I need to tell anyone that, of course) and I once had quite a sizeable collection installed at one of the many places I have called home; a collection that if I owned now would support me quite handsomely for the rest of my life.

Now I don't know what is so... unsettling.... about unexpected flashbacks to one's previous lives; whether it is the sudden confronting of a part of one's life that once was so intense - but which is now totally extinguished - or if it is the abrupt bringing back of all the parts of one's life that co-existed.

But getting back to cycads... as a bizarre, prehistoric, not always conventionally attractive plant - why have they developed such a devoted group of collectors? And why are almost all of the hard core collectors - as the article states - men? In fact - why are almost ALL obsessive collectors, men - even in the gender balanced fields such as... gardening? Why are we men so hard-wired to categorize and collect?

More on this later.

1 comment:

Capybara said...

Thought-provoking comment about collecting and gender. However, I think that your observation is a reflection of gender-biased economics. High-cost collecting like cycads requires lots of disposable cash for the plants and the mindset that allows you to spend this money on something so unconventional. Countless women obsessively collect china, spoons, shoes, stuffed animals, coupons, Hallmark Christmas ornaments, and such. And then, those women with lots of cash, there is always jewelry and furs. I hate to dance along the line of gender stereotypes, but in this case, the shoe fits. Collecting is not a male thing.