Two Types of Plants

by Matt Drescher

Nyssa sylvatica

There are two types of plants. There’s plants, and then there’s Plants.


“plants” (small p) are like trees (small t). They’re what you see when you’re driving down the highway and you’re looking out the window. They’re the soft-toned flowers sitting in a vase or the blurred out background in a picture of a dog. “plants” are what you take for granted as always being there, because, what are they going to do, move?


Plants, on the other hand, are what you notice when you’re not moving either. They’re in the woods and in gardens. They have personalities–like the bold Sycamore and the mysterious Sphagnum. You develop relationships with Plants because you’ve spent hours at a blackboard coming up with the fact that Nyssa sounds like “Mhysa”, which is a name given to a TV character that controls fire-breathing dragons, and the fact that Sylvatica sounds like ‘Sylvan’, which is the name of the street corner you grew up on. You put those together to remember that Nyssa sylvatica has fiery-red leaves and right-angled branch corners.


These Plants don’t leave your life after you’ve been quizzed on them, either. You remember and take notice of them, and the next time you’re walking across campus, you stop to notice the leaf pattern on a tree you’ve only ever seen as a plant. You start to see plants in the bread you eat, the wood you sit on, and even in the plastic in your hand. You literally start to see the Forest through the trees.


Matt Drescher is a Biology major at Bucknell University and a participant in Chris Martine's Field Botany class. The students took some time to write up their Plant Love Stories as a reflection of their participation in the class. We will be sharing some of their stories in the coming weeks.


Photo credit: Nyssa sylvatica by Katja Schulz from wikimedia commons.