Finally, a few weeks ago, we got around to playing with a plant key. Not only did it allow us to (almost) identify a headland wattle, but it opened up a whole new vocabulary. “Hairy” suddenly appeared hopelessly inadequate in the face of a cascade of near-synonyms, all with very specific meanings, splitting “hairy” into at least ten precise subspecies.

The vocabulary could be turned very nicely into a found poem.

HISPID

Ciliate,

pilose, pubescent

tomentose, tomentulous, ferruginous,

lannate.

GLABROUS

I delighted in this whole new world of words, and decided to buy a botanical dictionary forthwith. This is one occasion when Kindle and the internet won’t serve. I need a book on the table beside me, where I can reference page numbers and leaf through to my hairy heart’s content.

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