Viburnum tinus and a parallel world

 

 

Viburnum tinus is among  stars of the Mediterranean spring. Its dark green leaves contrast fragrant pentamerous flowers in white or pale pink, evolving into dark blue fruit resembling small pearls. Yet this obvious picture from maquis has its invisible side .It is called domatium, after Latin word domus, for home. Domatia are microscopically small chambers at the under sides of the evergreen leaves. Plant grows domatia to host mites. In this way Viburnum tinus can be seen as a botanical skyscraper with many  tiny apartments for arthropod neighbors. Imagine a little mite calling her friends to come over for a party at her condo! I am kidding, it only fascinates me to recognize there is another life underlying the botanical beauty of the plant we can see with our eyes. It is like a parallel world. Only the question remains, are the mites, or are we , at the right side?
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Florenz- Giardino dei semplici

Medici from Florenz were a powerful family. Their wealth (they owned Medici bank, one of biggest and most truthful banks in Europe at that time), connections (family gave 4 popes,their daughters married to European courts) and fact that they themselves become royal house enabled them to politically dominate the region from late 14-th century up to the 18-th century.They were generous patrons to the artists of the time and spent huge amounts of money building palaces, fortresses, gardens.

It is obvious that it was in the spirit of renaissance to invest in lavish buildings with picturesque gardens around,to study humanities and collect art.But what was the reason , that on December 1, 1545,  Cosimo I de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany established botanical garden in Florenz -, Giardino dei Semplici (medicinal herb garden)]just after  Pisa and Padova had got their botanical gardens? What made him think this is important, as there were yet only two botanical gardens in the world? After all, he could build just one more palazzo with beautiful garden .

I guess the reason lies in his grandmother Caterina Sforza, for he inherited passion for alchemy from her.She dedicated her last years of life to her children, grandchildren and her alchemical experiments.She had curiosity (or need?) to experiment in alchemy, this were in a way natural sciences .From here is just a step towards wish to investigate natural phenomena, botany included. 

As enough passion to investigate nature and enough knowledge to distinct  observations of nature as something important were needed (among with enough money) to set a botanical garden in 14-th century-do we today have enough passion, knowledge and money to recognize botanical gardens as important humanistic legacy for  future generations?

Euphorbia and ancient king Juba II of Numidia

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Euphorbia forms one of the biggest genera of plants.It originates in tropical and subtropical Africa and America and its more as 2000 species show big diversity.Which fascinates me, is the same plant making my day brighter today, took attention centuries ago already. Isn’t it strange to know the plant I write about today (and your read it ) was named by husband of Cleopatra’s daughter ? King Juba II of Numidia named Euphorbia after his personal Greek physician Euphorbus!

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Coin of the ancient kingdom of Mauretania. Juba II of Numidia on the obverse, Cleopatra Selene II on the reverse.from:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cleopatra_Selene_II

Juba II (Iuba in Latin; Ancient Greek: Ἰóβας, Ἰóβα or Ἰούβας)[1] or Juba II of Numidia(52/50 BC – AD 23) was a king of Numidia and then later moved to Mauretania.His first wife was Cleopatra Selene II, daughter to Greek Ptolemaic Queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt and Roman triumvir Mark Antony.

Juba II was brought to Rome by Julius Caesar and took part in Caesar’s triumphal procession. In Rome, he learned Latin and Greek, became romanized and was granted Roman citizenship.[1] Through dedication to his studies, he is said to have become one of Rome’s best educated citizens, and by age 20 he wrote one of his first works entitledRoman Archaeology.[1] He was raised by Julius Caesar and later by his great-nephew Octavian (future Emperor Caesar Augustus).

He is also known to have written a book about a spurge found in the High Atlas which he named Euphorbia after his personal physician. It was later called Euphorbia regisjubae (‘King Juba’s euphorbia’) in his honor (it is now Euphorbia obtusifolia ssp. regis-jubae).Botanist and taxonomist Carl Linnaeus assigned the name Euphorbiato the entire genus in the physician’s honor.[8] 

from:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juba_II