::a personal account followed by some botany, research and lore::
A tale of curiosity awakened creativity::
As I entered the greenhouse I was enveloped in an intoxicating, exotic sense I had never experienced before. A divine fragrance coaxed to me from somewhere within the verdant tangle of tropicals, the euphoric ambrosia salivating my taste buds and nose with bliss & curiosity. What was this pleasantly unfamiliar scent embracing me in mystery and familiarity?
To my left I was greeted by the vibrant violet pockets of Plectranthus barbatas’ blossoms as I had been for several weeks. I knew she wasn’t the source of the enchanting scent, as I had long discovered she is a visual appeaser without a detectable perfume. Ever since I was a child, upon meeting a new plant, or any time I see a familiar ally, my first instinct has always been to explore it & smell it, creating an olfactory sensory memory, though I never realized the science, or instinct rather, behind it. In doing so it is tying together all the senses through the feel of the plant’s branches, leaves & petals as the flower is drawn close to face; the sight of the colors & fine details in the blossom as it is brought to the nose; the sounds of the surroundings completing the harmonious connection as the scent transforms to taste dancing through the sinuses, senses & spirit.
Our sense(spirit) of smell and olfactory system are one of the oldest tools we hold to observe and learn our environment. Aromas carry the aura of beings into the deepest wells of our mind, weaving countless, ineffable subconscious connections along the way to our conscious. A most distinct metaphor for all the senses, and life in general. A most primal sense of security and detector of our surroundings, our sense of smell gives us clues and insight to our biosphere, often long before our other senses. Scents are woven into thick memories layered by intuition & experience, knit by our senses and perceptions. Fragrances awaken the conjuring of these memories in our subconscious & somatic selves, along with remembering the feeling of these experiences our conscious evolved mind otherwise couldn’t recall on it’s own. Often inducing a déjà vu feeling, seeing from remembering. Taking us to a place seen before but not looked back on in precisely the same way & awareness.
As I continue the usual scan of the greenhouse at eye level, I turn my gaze upwards to the rising winter sun bursting through the glass, warming & deeply steeping the alluring scent into the space. My eyes fall on a welcome greeting of soft, playful periwinkle pink peeking at me from among the lush tapestry of tropicals. Dainty blossoms atop delicate twisted branches, dancing in a gentle twirl up to the sun, weaving through the neighbors while gracing them with flirty frills. I reach up to bring the flowers towards me and am carried to a warm, fresh afternoon at the edge of a colorful jungle, dense with undergrowth and exotic bird melodies. The breeze is carrying the scent of divine delight and harmonious life dancing with the rosy tune.
The flowers are reminiscent of vincas, (of which I am fondly familiar, & will always associate with my beloved mother), simple in design though complex in sense and bud depth. The buds are a miniature vase, a spiral of silky pop. The blooms and buds arranged in a perfect pattern of varying stages, to ensure a continuous flow of alternate flourishing for days to come. As I brush my fingers upon the petals, their velvet silk caresses my fingertips, the hues of lilac & lavender & blush blending together in a dripping ombre swirl of coy & joy. The exotic essence kissed my nostrils and taste buds with a softly distinct rosey-lilac aroma; ethereal & familiar, simple & mystical, radiating from humble blossoms of unknown insight.
I had met this plant before I knew, but realized had never fully known her until now. Connections were made and she speaks many things to me; so will always remember yesterday, today, & tomorrow all woven into one simple, ever flourishing, bloom cluster. She is Brunfelsia grandiflora, Yesterday-Today-Tomorrow.
∞ bursting of coy & joy
Some botany and other information::
Brunfelsia grandiflora is also known as chiric sanango in Spanish; fever tree, kiss-me-quick, or yesterday-today-tomorrow in English. It is a member of the Solanaceae or nightshade and potato family. It is a small tree that grows wild in tropical South America. The leaves are 10-13 cm long, 3-5 cm wide, entire and oval shaped with a drip-tip and alternate in arrangement.
The flowers are 2-3 cm in diameter occurring in small clusters on stalks 2-4 cm long. An English common name for Brunfelsia grandiflora; Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow; comes from the way the flowers change from purple the first day of bloom, to lavender the second, and finally white on the third day of blossoming before they start to fade. Our Brunfelsia here at The Green Farmacy is very happy in our greenhouse and has been blooming prolifically for 3 weeks now!
Brunfelsia grandiflora is used throughout the north west Amazon region to treat fever, hence another one of it’s English monikers, fever tree. A brew from the leaves and/or bark is taken or a root infusion. The root is known for it’s diuretic and analgesic properties, thus has been used to treat a range of ailments by Amazon healers from yellow fever, to syphilis, to snakebites, to arthritis. Shuar shamans mix the Brunfelsia root into batches of ayahuasca tea in ceremony for its hallucinogenic properties.
The root medicine is very potent and can come with severe, even fatal, side effects if not used with proper knowledge, experience, reverence, and care. Some side effects include, but are not limited to, chills, itchiness, nausea, vomiting and convulsions. The leaves are a safer medicine of Brunfelsia grandiflora and are known as a pain-reliever. A tea of the leaves is used throughout the northern range of the Amazon basin for common colds, arthritis, rheumatism and venereal disease.
The spanish name, Chiric Sanango, comes from the Quechua word chiric meaning “itchy” or “tickling” and refers to the sensation when the brew of roots is swallowed. Chiric Sanango is regarded as Grandfather Medicine, the male counterpart to the feminine ayahuasca in ritual ceremonies. Chiric Sanango is one of the master plants of the Amazon given to the shamans or curandero/as to see visions and listen to the plants’ knowledge of healing, well being, and ritual. These experiences with the plants are called dietas, which involve drinking an extract of a master plant or planta maestra, living in seclusion, and eating light and simply for a period of time varying depending on the planta maestra. Chiric Sanango’s power specifically is revered so highly that it is a ‘pre-requisite’ dieta shamans or curandero/as must experience before serving all other planta maestra medicines.