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#132152 - 08/30/04 05:04 PM Re: Rabbit-Tobacco
Wordwind Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 6296
Loc: Piedmont Region of Virginia, U...
"Gnaphalium obtusifolium"? Well, then, I was correct in my first surmise of the correct genus and species if your Alabamian friends are correct.

Thanks a lot, Milo. I'll print this out for my team to do with what they will--agreeing or still disagreeing. It's all part of the process--and I don't mind lengthy processes.

Harper Lee wasn't particularly brilliant botanically in Mockingbird, although the gifts she did possess in writing her one and only novel were impressive. She calls the oaks around the county courthouse "live oaks" (Quercus virginiana) when, in fact, they are a variety of water oak (Quercus nigra), but I doubt there is much interest in this kind of writer's peccadillo.) The fact that she can take such subjects as extreme racial prejudice, rape, and a problematical court system and cause one to smile and laugh throughout the novel (especially that provision of many warm smiles) is a testimony to her creative gifts. I wouldn't mind at all if she had, in fact, misnamed every plant in the book--it would simply give the scholars something to be busy with to earn their keep. And you know what James Joyces had to say about the scholars.


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#132153 - 09/01/04 09:37 AM Re: Rabbit-Tobacco
Jackie Offline

Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 11609
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky

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#132154 - 09/01/04 05:13 PM Re: Rabbit-Tobacco
Wordwind Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 6296
Loc: Piedmont Region of Virginia, U...
Jackie,

Are the photographs are of two varieties of Gnaphalium obtusifolium? The reason I ask is there is no mention on the photograph page of genus and species. Did you google by looking under Nicotiana sylvestris and Gnaphalium obtusifolium, or just Gnaphalium? The reason I ask is they both look like Gnaphalium to me--one early and one later in the growing season. Neither looks like Nicotiana.
The second photograph looks like Gnaphalium after it has grown a long stalk up out of the composite of leaves that form in the spring--the stalk forms and then the flower heads form in the fall. But if you have two distinct varieties here, specifically which genus and species do you have and what are the Latinate names of the varieties? Many thanks.

Edit: I just read over what I wrote and better add that I don't see that these are necessarily two different botanical varieties, but a single genus and species during different points in the growing season, and I suspect that genus is Gnaphalium. Hope this makes sense. As I wrote much earlier above, common names cause uncommon problems in botanical classification. Thank heaven for Latin.


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#132155 - 09/02/04 09:38 AM Re: Rabbit-Tobacco
Jackie Offline

Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 11609
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky
Oops, sorry: neither. I went to Google Images and typed in rabbit tobacco. I've seen the tall spindly one often, without knowing what it was. I would never have thought it was the same plant as that nasty-looking thing lying along the ground.
Here's the Google Images link to Nicotiana sylvestris:
http://images.google.com/images?q=Nicotiana+sylvestris&ie=UTF-8&hl=en&btnG=Google+Search

And for Gnaphalium obtusifolium:
http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&q=Gnaphalium+obtusifolium


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#132156 - 09/02/04 03:28 PM Re: Rabbit-Tobacco
Wordwind Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 6296
Loc: Piedmont Region of Virginia, U...
I'm pretty sure both of your images of rabbit tobacco are Gnaphalium, Jackie: one early and the other matured to the flowering stage. I'll run them past our botanist at school, although I don't know whether his area of expertise is herbaceous or woody plants. Will report back tomorrow after I print out your images. They are lovely and they do look like Gnaphalium to me, which resembles lamb's ear (a little) in the early stage.

Also, although Google images are terrific--and when you google rabbit toboacco you'll get lots of good hits--some of the hits will be entirely incorrect. In fact, when we use the Google Images function, we pull up all kinds of things that may not have anything to do with botanical specimens at all.

But your two images of rabbit tobacco look like Gnaphalium to me.


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#132157 - 09/03/04 11:19 AM Re: Rabbit-Tobacco
Jackie Offline

Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 11609
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky
Well, let me know. And yes, I believe the Google things, at least the images, are brought up by however they're titled; so if someone has a picture of real tobacco, say, and posts it as rabbit tobacco, then it's going to get a hit as rabbit tobacco. No guaranteeing that all these titlers have been correct.


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#132158 - 09/03/04 11:44 AM Re: Rabbit-Tobacco
AnnaStrophic Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 6511
Loc: lower upstate New York
if someone has a picture of real tobacco, say, and posts it as rabbit tobacco, then it's going to get a hit as rabbit tobacco

So true, Jackie. I find it helpful to add .edu to my search terms when I'm looking up something like this; kinda weeds out the tobacco from the rabbits.


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#132159 - 09/04/04 05:11 AM Re: Rabbit-Tobacco
Wordwind Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 6296
Loc: Piedmont Region of Virginia, U...
The teacher in the biology department I talked to yesterday knows mostly about woody plants, but he gave me the name of another teacher who specializes in herbaceous plants. Next week will be a little crazy with school's opening for students, but I'll try to track him down and see whether he can recognize the photos. As I was talking to the 'woody plant biologist' yesterday, another teacher from the history dept. overheard our conversation about rabbit-tobacco and immediately began to recount the time in his childhood when friends and he had smoked rabbit-tobacco. I said, "Well, at least it has medicinal properties!"

What I'd really like to do at some point is write to Harper Lee and let her know what a lark this has been trying to track down the rabbit-tobacco in Mockingbird. My mother says it used to grow all about Dinwiddie County, Virginia, but she hasn't seen it for years. Wonder why?

An aside: The most recent studies in educational theory are stressing the importance of students finding a personal interest hook into studies to investigate as throughly as possible, building webs between new subject areas, deepening knowledge of areas that are of personal interest, and making as many connections between areas investigated and areas in curriculum. I'll use my own interest in botany to demonstrate to my ninth graders a model for their own investigations of areas from Mockingbird. The possibilities offered by that novel are many and rich. Our final product will be an illustrated Mockingbird lexicon from each of my three ninth grade classes.

At first glance, it might seem that this kind of investigation of rabbit-tobacco trivializes the content of Mockingbird, but actually, in presenting this example to my classes, I'll address:

The descriptive details of the Radley yard: specific details in the weeds Ms. Lee chose to place there (i.e., rabbit-tobacco and the noxious weed Johnson grass);

Open-ended questions of what these two details might suggest about the appearance of a 'swept yard'--and how the reader might visualize such a yard; how community members might react to such a yard, including adults' reactions as opposed to that of children;

How Lee's use of such a yard ties into the repeated themes in the novel: poverty, prejudice, the oppression of the pariah, etc.

In other words, even with the mention of two specific details, such as Johnson grass and rabbit-tobacco, much can be suggested. And I hope this will impress upon my students that in their own writing, specific details will add depth.

The other point of fascination to me is what the reader brings to a work of literature. Perhaps Lee simply used Johnson grass and rabbit-tobacco because that is what she had seen in bleak-looking yards in her own Monroeville--and nothing more. Perhaps she herself used them to suggest a yard with weeds--a yard that lacked tender-loving care and nothing more. And perhaps my own tendency to take connections as far as I can when considering themes in a novel causes me to think of connections Lee never herself considered. Well, that's exciting, I think. I believe readers create novels in their own reading that the writer herself or himself didn't visualize while writing the work because readers bring information into the work that the writer may have not been privy to. And that is very exciting because it makes novels burst with new life. However, this kind of thinking I will probably not touch on with my ninth graders because it is most likely too abstract. I'll share it with you all, however, because we tend to take topics here in so many directions.


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#132160 - 09/04/04 06:34 AM Bumwado Cedarettes
grapho Offline
addict

Registered: 11/09/03
Posts: 619
Loc: Carpal Tunnel Country
another teacher from the history dept. overheard our conversation about rabbit-tobacco and immediately began to recount the time in his childhood when friends and he had smoked rabbit-tobacco

Reminds me of the time when a bunch of us 15 year olds at summer camp started to smoke something we called "Bumwado Cedarettes".

We took strips of bark off the cedar trees which were everywhere and ground them up in our hands into something that looked like tobacco. Then we hand-rolled them in what was known as "bumwad" from the Kibos and lit them up.

And I do mean we "LIT" them up. When the flame hit the bumwad, they flared like a butane lighter on wide open gas. But then they would settle out to a raspy smoke that lasted perhaps 5 minutes or more.

Voila! Bumwado cedarettes.

It was more of a style than a substance thing, you know.

It was a little disconcerting to see all the dust come out of the cedar strips when we ground them up. But that was in the days before we knew anything about all the crap in regular tobacco.

No-one's ever died of a "Bumwado Cedarette", as far as I know. And no durn government ever put a tax on it.

Hell, no tabaccky company ever made a puff of profit from our cedarettes. And there ain't a billboard nowheres boostin' them to kids.






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#132161 - 09/04/04 11:21 AM Re: Rabbit-Tobacco
amemeba Offline
journeyman

Registered: 05/02/04
Posts: 89
Excellent thinking, Wordwind, write Harper Lee now. If you can reach her I'll bet that she will be delighted to respond. Please let us know if she does.

As for your three classes of ninth graders, I'll bet that the method of teaching by establishing conections with subects of personal intrests to your students will also spill over into their understanding of the symbolism and subtleties of literature. This enjoyment of living that you might add to only one of your ingrateful and socially self-centered urchins is a gift beyond measure. I know, I myself am a reformed self-centered urchin.

Of course,I know that you are well aware of the good that you do, but I just wanted to say it myself as a way of saying "thank you".

(If can find any of the so-called rabbit tobacco in the woods this week-end I will have a sample identified at the Botanical Gardens in Birmingham Tuesday and repot back.)


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