This past Saturday afternoon I was in the SC Botanical Garden and couldn’t believe the hordes of people meandering in the Garden. Wherever I turned, I saw people staring intently at their smartphones as they walked along the duck pond or traversed the pine straw-covered slopes in the Camellia Garden.
I assumed that some of these visitors were students from my Fall Landscape Plant I.D. and Use class. Here they were, I imagined, less than two weeks from the start of the semester and they’re seeking-out plants from the 12 lists I shared with them in late July. I was ecstatic.
But I was wrong. One couple walked by me as I was photographing a cultivar of a
reblooming azalea, and I heard the fellow say, “Let’s look for the Abies.” I quickly stood up and asked him: “’Scuse me, did you say you’re looking for a fir? I heard you say Abies.” I was referring to the Japanese fir (Abies firma) in the Schoenike Arboretum. This conifer is not on our plant list because there’s only one in the Garden and it’s languishing in deep sh
He approached me and said, “No, I’m looking for Eevee.” Completely unaware of this genus or common name, this young man launched into a rapid-fire explanation of
Pokémon Go’s Eevee Community Day. I was stunned (glassy-eyed as well because of my inability to comprehend the difference between an Eevee and an Espeon.) These people weren’t looking for plants. They were looking for Pokémon creatures.
I stopped three more couples and discovered that each one of them was playing Pokémon Go. I wasn’t disappointed that the flora and fauna in the Garden were trumped by these Pokémon critters. These Pokémon players were outside and in the Garden on this hot, sunny, humid afternoon.
A short time later I ambled along the ’62 trail and bent down to examine a Henry’s voodoo lily (Amorphophallus henryi). As people shuffled behind me, I knelt down and
pushed a leaf away from the stem. I almost squealed with delight! Just inches from my hand was this blue spike of fruit. I expected the spadix to give rise to red fruit, but A. henryi produces blue fruit that look like miniature muscadine grapes. I was about to jump up and yell, “Hey, check out the blue fruit on this voodoo lily!” but quickly corralled my emotions and got back down on my knees to gaze at this stunning blue marvel. Now I know what it feels like to find an Eevee.
Bob Polomski (c) 2018