Relationship Between Plants and People
Posted 11 July 2014, 4:05 pm NDT
One of many willows in bloom at this time of year - northern willow on Makkovik Hill - Erica Oberndorfer photo (larger version)
On July 9th, I attended a presentation by PhD student Erica Oberndorfer that showcased her research about plants and their relationship with people in Labrador (more specifically Makkovik). The priorities of her research are culture and ecology. Culture being about the stories that people tell about plants and ecology being about the stories that plants tell about people. The ecology aspect appears to be quite abstract upon first reflection but with more thought and explanation from Erica it becomes clear what she means; that plants can give us abundant information about the ways people used the land generations ago. Plant growth can reflect human activity, one example is the presence of rhubarb in abandoned and wild environments. The cultural aspect of her research is more widely understood – plants are used in numerous cultural ways. People use them in teaching and learning, particularly in making wood crafts like snowshoes. Plants are used in art and as dyes. And are used in a sharing and social aspect. We also can't forget that plants harness and grow our navigation and transportation skills through activities like woodcutting. These activities also teach patience. All in all, I learned a lot about the interactions of plants and people. I also learned about some common plants in Makkovik and Labrador and that they can be difficult to identify depending on the stage of the life cycle that they are in. Erica also talked about the edible parts of plants and how they can be eaten and how parts of plants can be used for medicinal purposes. This presentation was interesting and sparked my interest in plants in Labrador.
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