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PISCES Mini-Lesson #5: Plants

Photo #1: One of our beloved “Néré” trees, which enrich the soil, provide shade, and produce sweet edible flour.

Photos #2-3: “Peacock flower” and Vetiver can be used for fencing, water retention, perfume-making, and aesthetics

Photos #4-5: Corn and sweet potatoes allow us to eat nutritious food.

Photo #6: “Barki” grow long, tough, and straight fibers which can be used to make rope.

Photo #7: Many different species of flowering plants provide habitat for pollinators and beneficial insects.

Photo #8: We plant pigeon peas extensively throughout our fields for their soil retention and nitrogen-fixing capabilities.

Photos #9-10: Castor Oil Plant. While the seeds of this plant are highly poisonous, it provides useful coverage during the dry season to protect baby chicks from hawks.

What do plants do for us? Actually, a better question might be, what don't they do for us? Throughout the millennia of human life on this planet they have provided us with food, shelter, furniture, firewood for heating, cooking, and fuel, boats to travel and trade, and railroad ties for trains. They cover the earth, cool the land, create micro-climates, generate their own rainfall, and provide us with medicines, rope, and paints. Perhaps you could say that they can't sing or dance, but anyone's who has ever been in a pine forest on a windy day might beg to differ. Like so many things in the natural world, the more we learn about them, the more amazing they become. Recent research show that trees in forests work together to create an environment that is conducive to many different species and have complicated mechanisms for communicating through scent molecules and electrical impulses.

At PISCES, we try to learn as much as possible from our beloved plant friends and work with them to create an environment that we all can enjoy. While we are still working on our botanical garden, we know that we have at least 35 different tree species, 20 different food crops, and 15 other plants used for a range of purposes from fencing to rope and roof making to traditional medicines (including one plant that can help treat venomous snake bites). We will be talking about plants a lot more in future posts so stay tuned!

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