Flowers and Men

The diffusion of wild flowers, thousands of miles from their native places, is a “vegetable record” Geoffrey Grigson suggests, of human migration and colonization.

In the probable or hypothetical centres where men began to combine sowing and gathering, they created, so to say, the first weeds, those plants which go round with men and stick to them like their own ectoparasites. More exactly and inclusively, they made possible the wild plant in the wrong place and often in the wrong country; the European dandelion, for example, in Massachusetts or California, or the Prickly Pear of the New World against the white masonry of a Sicilian temple or theatre. They created economic plagues. These plants, and later the scattered relicts of cultivation, are a vegetable record of the diffusion of agriculture, of out-moded practices and uses and beliefs, of the phases of migration and colonization, and of the traffic, homeward as well as outward, between the old settlements and the new.

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