Amidst the turmoil and blessings of our changing, evolving world, the sweetness of genuine friendship is one of life’s greatest joys. When we observe and listen to plants, insects and animals they teach us about the mutuality and benefits of symbiotic relationships. And about having fun.
If we transplant a plant from one place in the garden to another it immediately begins to adapt itself, biochemically, to its new soil. A plant, such as our eastern skunk cabbage, now blooming, can be found growing up out of the ice and snow in a swampy area in or on the edge of the forest. It generates enough heat to melt the frozen land and break through at the time that the insects that pollinate it are also coming alive. It attracts its pollinators with its strong, fetid smell. The same smell warns off potential predators such as herbalists looking for wild food that this is NOT a good plant to eat (though its roots offer us a powerful medicine for the lungs). Black cherry trees secrete fluid nectar actively for about three weeks during the year. This is during the same three weeks in which a kind of caterpillar called the eastern tent caterpillar harms black cherry trees. It attracts the ants with the irresistible nectar it secretes in order to have them clean their leaves from the caterpillars. Thus, the plant feeds the ants that can save it from harm. Cooperation between species makes the world go ‘round.