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THE GIRALUNA

This elusive and capricious plant is the Dream Queen of parallel botany. Hydendorp, quite rightly, does not hesitate to define it as the "most parallel of plants, most plantlike of the parallels," and in so doing he stresses not so much its physiognomic oddnesses as the disconcerting normality of its shape. "If we were in the jungle," he writes, "and we found one blocking our way, we would not for an instant hesitate to hack it down with our machetes."1
But it will not be our good fortune to encounter it. If in reconstructions the Giraluna displays considerable plantness of form and an exact and convincing solidity, in its natural environment it can be perceived only as a nebulous interplay of glimmerings and empty spaces which alternate in the darkness and vaguely suggest where its outlines might be. (pl. XXIV) Its nocturnal presence, in fact, is manifested almost entirely in terms of the equivocal O'-factor of the moonbeams, which was discovered and measured a few years ago by Dennis Dobkin of the Point Paradise Observatory. This factor changes the light-shade ratio which normally defines volumes into a subtle interplay of lucencies and opacities, so that our perceptions, our basic sensorial habits conditioned by thousands of years of daytime life in the "solar key," would need complete readjustment and indeed reversal in order to come to terms with it. Daylight isolates objects, bestowing a noisy Meaning on all the odds and ends in the world. But night takes everything away except the very soul of things: a black light, a transparent darkness, a secret we cannot grasp.
During the long night of the Erocene era man caught a glimpse of the Giraluna rising mysteriously in its barren landscape. Presolar man imagined himself the child of the Moon. In her lap he had known the comfort of the life, silent torpor of the night, and by her light he had seen silver pearls lie weightlessly upon the coronas of the first great flowers. But he left us only a few enigmatic signs of all this: the Feisenburg cave, the petrified bones in the Ahmenstadt tumulus, the Boergen Cup. Paradoxically enough, all that we do in fact know of his presence in that landscape comes to us from our study of his nocturnal vegetation,
Around the middle of the Erocene era, when the flowers of night were fading away in the light of a new dawn, man saw that outlines and colors were slowly hardening. Thus he discovered the stone-hard world of day, and learned to be the child of both Sun and Moon, of Amnes and Ra, of Disarm and Karak, of Nemsa and Taor. The "crawling stones" of Yorkshire, the stele of Tapur, the graffiti of Klagenstadt, these have preserved for us the nearly obliterated images of the two divinities who from the center of their temples drew the design of the universe.
But the Sun was not long in attaining absolute power over everything in the world. "O Ra, o Amno Ra our benefactor, glowing and flaming! Gods and men bow down before you, for you are their creator and their only Lord." Such was the prayer of Amresh, High Priest of Egypt. And a new vegetation, outspoken and exuberant, appeared on the earth, and made the bright leaves dance in the morning breeze. Night soon became no more than a dark corridor joining one day to another, a place of visions and memories, a storehouse of words and images. It became a secret refuge where the vanished flowers could once more flaunt their coronas to the Moon. And thousands of years later the black flowers of that distant night-Giraluna, Lunaspora, Solea argentea-were born from seeds hidden deep in a soil rich with legends and stories.
If our knowledge of the Giraluna is today reasonably complete and detailed this is due to the industry and scholarship of Professor Johannes Hydendorp of the University of Honingen, who has collected and collated all known facts and kept his records abreast of the latest developments. Our historical and geographical information comes from the most varied sources: legends and folk tales handed down from generation to generation, accounts given by explorers, anthropologists, and paleontologists, and of course the more recent testimony of botanists such as Heinz Hornemann and Pierre Maessens.

PL. XXIV Giraluna (closeup of avvulta at right)

The iconography of the plant includes the Solingen graffiti, the polychrome bas-reliefs from the Karno tombs, and the clumsy sculptures made by the natives of Uranda. But of fundamental importance is the recent discovery of the great Giraluna of Sommacampagna near Verona, which is fashioned in such a meticulous manner as to carry the utmost conviction.2 Also important is the Lady Isobel Middleton group, which we will discuss below at some length.
By interpolating descriptions and representations, Hydendorp was able to draw up a really detailed morphology of the plant, which now requires only the confirmation of direct observation. Although his own reconstruction was made a year before the discovery of the Giraluna at Sommacampagna, it is identical in every detail with that colossal bronze-fair proof of the accuracy of both.
Hydendorp lists three types of Giraluna: the common variety, G. vulgaris, typified by the Sommacampagna bronze and which has all the basic characteristics of the plant; G. gigas, a native of the mountains of Tampala in India, and which can reach heights of three meters or more; and G. minor, found in the undergrowth, a plant rather similar to the fungoid Protorbis minor and occasionally mistaken for it. The three varieties all greatly differ in size and substance, but they share the pendulous roots and the circular corona with its spherical seeds that shine with a strange metallic light.
Although the Giraluna is not a social plant, there are groups of the giant variety consisting of three or more individuals which, as with normal plants, appear to be connected by means of a common root system. G. minor is sometimes found in even larger groups (Hydendorp mentions up to forty plants in one square meter) which would lead us to think, quite erroneously, in terms of a rudimentary social structure such as that of the tirils or the woodland tweezers. But in fact it is no more than chance association without any suggestion of interdependence and due merely to favorable environmental conditions.
In his description of the Giraluna, Hydendorp distinguishes two main parts, the "trunk" or "column," and the "corona." The trunk corresponds more or less to the stem or stalk of more delicate plants, but deserves the term arplied to it on account of its unusually massive bulk in relation to the plant as a whole. A fully grown Giraluna measuring a meter and a half in height can be as much as forty centimeters in diameter at the base. The trunk of the Giraluna is composed of the column proper (Lat. columnar) and a system of aerial roots, the pendulants, which are collectively known as the avvulta.
As with most of the parallel plants of the Beta group, the column rests on the earth without in any way being attached to it. In spite of this, the plant stands so steadily that in the absence of the appropriate technical apparatus it is impossible to knock it over or to cut it down. Here and there on the surface of the column there are fragmentary remains of a corklike bark. This is an extreme case of "parabotanization," a type of camouflage aimed at concealing the parallel nature of the plant. It has been the subject of a special study by Hydendorp, who attributes the phenomenon to psychobotanical deviations which probably resulted from a malfunctioning of the genetic memory. Mutilations of the mnemonic system or, in plain terms, cases of forgetfulness, would seem to be the cause of anomalies for which we can find no other explanation. Hydendorp calls our attention to the theories of Hermann Hoem, according to whom false messages can be delivered, while mistaken decodification and even genuine forms of plant neurosis can take place in the evolutionary process at cellular level. He cites some well-known examples of plants which have undergone surprising morphological changes by means of rapid mutations caused by frustrations, inhibitions and obsessive envy. Here ws might mention the clear impressions of roses to be found on the leaves of ivy of the variety Rosa alienis, the shapes of flowers and leaves that appear from time to time on the cracked bark of Pinus adelphis, and finally the numerous "fruit-bearing leaves" which result from a long series of laboratory experiments carried out by Hoem himself.
The upper part of the column of the Giraluna is much narrower than the base, and is curved in such a way as to hold the corona at the proper angle, usually forty decrees. At the very base it swells as if to give the plant more stability, and in this it is aided by the lowest pendulants, which often extend onto the ground for ten centimeters or so. In fact, of course, this swelling at the base is also part of the camouflage game of the Giraluna, which pretends to require physical and gravitational stability while in fact its remarkable "solidity" proceeds from the very nature of its matterlessness.
Apart from the fragments of pseudobark the column has the smooth and slightly viscous surface characteristic of all parallel plants.

PL. XXV The ebluk procession (Sumerian bas-relief)

Sometimes, like certain varieties of tiril, it is covered with a very thin layer of faintly scented wax, known as emyphyllene, which is reminiscent of the copaiba resins of certain normal plants. The men of the post-Erocene era thought that this substance had aphrodisiac properties. Maessens is of the opinion that the famous ebluk of the Sumerians, used by the sculptor priests to anoint the block of basalt from which they were to draw forth the image of the emperor, was nothing other than the emyphyllene of the Giraluna. In those days the plant grew in some abundance in the shade of those vast rocks which the Sumerians took to be pieces of the moon that had fallen into the desert. On nights when the moon was full long lines of warriors, led by the priests, would scour the desert in search of the precious balsam, which was heated and poured into a small golden casket. (pl. XXV)At the climax of a complicated nocturnal ceremony, while the High Priest delivered rhythmic blows of the hammer upon the holy chisel, the contents of the casket were poured over the shapeless stone which was to yield the portrait of the defunct sovereign. The balsam was supposed to give the dead emperor such virility that in the other world he was able to re-create his entire people. According to Maessens the stele from the Karno tomb, which shows a pair of mythical animals, half lion and half bull, supported by a stylized Giraluna (Fig. 21), also exalts the aphrodisiac properties of the ebluk.
All around the column hang the tubular roots known as pendulants. These are scarcely visible at the top of the plant, but they become longer and longer toward the base where, as mentioned above, they often protrude for some little way over the ground and provide totally fictional support. The pendulants are smooth, with perfectly rounded ends, and the common variety possesses some hundreds of them. They are similar to the pendulants of the Sigurya, but while these are thin, irregular, and likely to appear at any height on the stem, the pendulants of the Giraluna are very regular in form and distribution. When several layers are superimposed they form the avvulta, which resembles a kind of skirt.
Hydendorp thinks that the way the pendulants are arranged suggests that the Giraluna was once entirely independent of the earth. "A plant that has roots falling toward the earth," he writes, "has certainly not grown upwards from beneath the surface, as occurs with normal plants. It is probable that before the beginning of the Metrocene era (the "age of measurement"), when living organisms were relatively few and without dimensions, the Giraluna was an aerial plant."

Fig. 21 The Giraluna of Karno

Hydendorp goes on to remind us that the problem of survival does not apply to parallel botany, and that therefore these plants have no necessity whatever for maintaining contact with the earth. "It is not impossible," he writes, "in earlier times, when the ratio between the gravity of the earth and that of the moon was not the same as it is today, that the earth rejected certain organisms which at that critical moment in the formation of the biosphere might have seemed of no use to the emergence of the new ecological balance. It is possible that great numbers of parallel plants, like their ancestors the Lepelara, circled the earth while awaiting mutations that would permit the earth's gravitational force to prevail. The Giraluna would then have descended to our planet and stretched out its pendulants like tentacles to help it make a good landing and aid it, at least in the early stages, to keep its balance."
Maessens pushes Hydendorp's theory to the point of paradox, and even speculates on the possible selenogenesis of the plant. For him the Giraluna of Sumerian must have fallen from the moon at the same time as the huge boulders in the Ahem-Bu Desert. There was an absurd but memorable bickering match between the two scientists on this very subject at the 1968 Antwerp Conference. This should scarcely be wondered at, in view of the fact that parallel botany as a whole, and the Beta group in particular, disobeys the laws of nature and therefore encourages speculations that sometimes threaten to compete with the boldest imaginings of science fiction.
If the pendulants reach toward the earth, the corona of the Giraluna is definitely turned toward the sky. It is a large circular dish full of metallic spheres that are commonly called seeds, though obviously they are nothing of the kind. The corona of the common Giraluna is forty centimeters in diameter. Unlike the varieties G. gigas and G. minor it has a few triangular petals irregularly placed around its rim. Hydendorp lists this as one of the paramimetic features of the plant, though he also thinks that this might represent a distant "memory," a rudimentary vestige of a previous form of corona.
The seeds of the Giraluna, more correctly called "spherostills", differ from one variety to another: but within each variety they are of fixed and invariable size, quite independently of the size of the individual plant. Those of the common Giraluna measure four millimeters in diameter, those of G. minor, two millimeters, while the spherostills of the G. gigas measure as much as twenty-four millimeters in diameter. While the plant is matterless and therefore has no specific gravity, in the case of the spherostills one can speak in terms of an actual mass. This fact was used by Hydendorp to combat Maessens's theory of lunar genesis. "In the fall from one gravitational field to another," he said, "the spherostills, which are not connected to the corona in any way, would have gotten lost in space." In the reply he made during the famous debate mentioned above, Maessens drew attention to the fact that in certain well-known instances the corona is in fact missing a number of seeds, and he declared that the mysterious atmoliths that damaged the lunar screen of the American Macron II might well have been Giraluna spherostills which had remained in orbit.
If the fragments of "bark" on the Giraluna, and the pendulants which compose its avvulta, can be explained by the theory of para-botanization, the so-called seeds, with their geometrical perfection and brilliant shiny surface, appear to elude any rational explanation whatever. But the fact that they are there on the corona leads us to suspect some hidden meaning beyond the scope of any acceptable hypothesis. In spite of their obvious uselessness and their oddly mechanical appearance, we are bjund to admit that the spherostills must be in some measure "organic by association," so that in the context of the "plant mother" they are instantly interpreted as seeds. The extent to which the context of the plant is decisive as a semeiotic element has been shown by Anseimo Geremia of the Natural History Museum of Vicenza, who for some years now has been working on the strange phenomenon of the "seeds" of parallel plants.
We here give the results of a test carried out by Geremia to ascertain the recognizability of the spherostills of the great bronze of Sommacampagna: Removed from the context of the Giraluna and displayed instead on the workbench of a machine shop, the spherostills were identified as ball bearings by ninety-eight percent of the people taking part in the test. When the spherostills were scattered here and there on the soil in a garden the outcome was more or less the same. But when they were seen in their proper place, on the corona of the flower, the results were completely reversed: ninety-four percent of those interviewed took the spheres to be the seeds of the plant, even if in their comments ball bearings were often used by way of comparison.
But what could possibly be the function of abstract seeds, quite clearly incapable of generating new plants? What relationship could there be between the spherostills and the plant mother with which they have not the least trace of a physical bond? How can we explain the fact that the most "botanized" of the parallel plants has seeds which can easily be mistaken for a product of advanced industrial technology? Geremia writes:

It is clear that in their distant past the spherostills cannot have had any true biological functions. To demand that plants which enjoy timelessness should take the trouble to ensure the survival of the individual, that they should possess mechanisms to bring about the preservation of the species, is a patent and paramount absurdity. Having also rejected the idea of an extreme form of paramimesis, on account of the mechanical appearance of the seeds, we are forced to give serious consideration to the hypothesis of a purely symbolic function similar to that of the brightly colored tail of the mitlachec, a small bird of prey found on the Carador coast of Bolivia, which Hayman Harris defines as a "temptation to the dream." As with the germinants, the highly artificial perfection of the spherostills, in dramatic contrast to the plantness of the rest of the Giraluna, brings to mind meanings involving a certain amount of ideality; but ideality implies a hypothetical future, and the future is conceivable only in terms of constant temporal motion. It therefore becomes natural to wonder if the spherostills might not represent a symbolic bridge between the two types of time, the mobile time of normal botany and the motionless time of parallel botany3.

The poetic question put by Geremia thus translates the mystery of the physical appearance of the spherostills into new conceptual terms. But what on earth could be the message that the spherostills are carrying from one time to another, from one flora to another? Geremia does not tell us. He is wise enough to think that the answer to such a question must completely elude our logic. Even to ask the question is rather like trying to jump over one's own shadow.
From the steppes of Yaghuria, from the Novaho Desert, from the tropical forests of Central Africa, from all those distant places of the earth where man has seen the seeds of the Giraluna glinting in the night, travelers have brought back stories of enchantment and magic inspired by the bewitching mysteries of the plant. Among the most curious of these is a story told by Vladimir Oncharov, a little-known Russian writer,4 who in 1868 published a volume of children's stories which has never been translated. One of these stories is called "The Flower with the Golden Seeds." Oncharov himself admitted that the story was based on a very old Yaghurian legend, and it stands as proof that even in the dreary landscape of the Siberian steppes the Giraluna ixust once have offered its glittering spherostills to the moon.
Although Oncharov was the first to use the name "Giraluna," and although there is no Russian whs has not read or been told the story as a child, no one ever dared to advance the idea that the precious flower might really have existed: an example of how folk tales, so rich in historical, geographical, and scientific information, still remain largely and inexcusably unexplored.
Here is the text of the Russian story in a translation by Giselle Barnes, to whom we are also grateful for bringing it to our notice.

The Flower with the Golden Seeds

Ivan Antonovitch was a poor peasant who lived with his wife Katyusha in a wooden cabin not far from the village of Blansk. What little he earned came from the milk of his ten goats and from selling the seeds of the sunflowers which late in the summer droop their heavy heads as if tired of waiting for the sun, searching the gray earth instead for a reason to live.
One cold and misty September day Ivan Antonovitch decided to reap his sunflowers, which now were ready to be harvested. He sharpened his amovar and off he went to the field. He had already cut a few bundles when suddenly he stopped in his tracks: he stood and stared in amazement at the plant he had just been on the point of cutting down. It was the only one in the whole field that still had its face upturned to the sky. It had black petals and seeds that looked like tiny nuggets of gold. Ivan Antonovitch rubbed his eyes and pinched himself hard on the nose. Persuaded at last that he was not dreaming, he carefully gathered the heavy seeds and dropped them into the huge pocket of his smock. He continued to harvest his sunflowers, but every so often he took a seed from his pocket to assure himself that it really was gold. Once he nearly broke a tooth when he bit on one to see how hard it was. He decided to tell no one at all, not even Katyusha, and before going home he dug a hole in a corner of the field. Into this hole lie dropped the seeds one by one, counting them with loving care. Then he covered them up with the gray earth and put a white stone on top.
That night he was too excited to sleep, and he got up before dawn. He went straight to the field, removed the stone, took out one seed, and refilled the hole. Then he walked to Blansk with the precious nugget in his pocket. There he wasted no time in making his way to the shop of Boris Andreyevitch, the only tradesman and, guess what, the only rich man in the village. "Boris Andreyevitch," said Ivan Antonovitch, "how much is a nugget of gold worth?"
"That depends on the weight of it," was the reply. "But why should an old beggar like you wish to know such a thing?"
" That's why!" said the peasant, drawing the lump of gold from his pocket.
Boris Andreyevitch was astonished, but he took the seed and examined it carefully, rolling it back and forth between his fingers.
" Where did you get it?" he said at last.
'That's my business," said Ivan Antonovitch with a broad wink.
Boris Andreyevitch put the nugget on a small pair of scales, jotted down a lot of numbers on a scrap of paper, and finally said:
" A hundred and twenty rubles."
" A hundred and fifty," snapped Ivan Antonovitch.
The old tradesman pretended to give this some thought, and said: "As you are a friend I will give you a hundred and thirty."
Ivan Antonovitch took the money and ran home.
" Katyusha," he cried in excitement. "Just look at this!" And he threw a handful of gold coins on the table.
" Holy Mother of God!" exclaimed his wife. "Where did you get all that money?"
"That's my business," said Ivan Antonovitch. But he could not keep his secret for long, and that same evening he took Katyusha to the sunflower field. There he lifted the stone and took out the seeds.
" Thirty-six!" he said. "And to think that yesterday there were thirty-seven!"
All night they discussed what was best to do, and decided that instead of selling any more of the seeds they would plant them. And so they did. They prepared a small field behind the house, and there they planted the seeds very carefully, in six rows of six.
The next day Ivan Antonovitch went to the village and asked Boris Andreyevitch what was thirty-six times thirty-seven. "Next year we will have one thousand three hundred and thirty-two golden seeds," he told Katyusha when he got home. "You will have the richest husband in all Russia.'
Then came the autumn rains and a long winter under the snow, and indeed it was the longest winter of their lives. When at last the spring came and the snow melted the two of them looked anxiously at the sodden black earth. And sure enough there were a few little shoots coming up.
In the months that followed the plants grew tall, and there was no doubt about it: they were real sunflowers. Every morning, as soon as they woke, Ivan and Katyusha would rush to the field. With bated breath they would gaze at the buds of the flowers, tight little fists holding all their immense riches. And one day, its face uplifted to the sky, the first sunflower opened its petals. It was a real sunflower . . . but alas, its seeds looked like ordinary sunflower seeds. Ivan Antonovitch pried one out with his fingernails. He crushed it between finger and thumb. Then all of a sudden he lost his head:
one after another he tore open all the flowers, ripping off the petals. Inside them he found nothing but young, tender sunflower seeds. Then he grabbed his amovar ani cut down the flowers in his rage. Katyusha looked on in horror, and when there was only one flower left she cried "Stop! Stop! Ivan Antonovitch, let us spare at least this one!" The man and his wife wept for a long time.
It was a sad, sad summer. And then the autumn came and the snow began to fall, but the sunflower they had spared did not lose its leaves, and its flower remained intact.
" Is this another miracle?" they wondered.
And one moonlit night they got their answer, for then they looked out and saw the flower teaming like a golden crown. Running to the plant they found that the seeds which had been soft and gray in the daytime were now of shining gold. Ivan and Katyusha wept for joy and hugged each other and danced round and round the flower. "Better thirty-seven golden seeds than one thousand two . . . three . . ." In his excitement Ivan Antonovitch quite forgot the huge number the tradesman had taught him to say. ". . . Than a million golden weds," put in Katyusha, who was always ready to coin a proverb.
So Ivan did not become the richest man in all Russia, but he was certainly the luckiest peasant in Blansk. He and Katyusha bought a white horse and four big cows, and the next year they had a little daughter. They called her Giraluna.

PL. XXVI Wo'swa, the bride of Pwa'ko

The Giraluna appears as a mythological character in many legends of the North American Indians. The Xumi, who live in the Great Novaho Desert, are unfortanately dying out, but the few survivors of this magnificent tribe, which a couple of centuries ago still numbered two hundred thousand souls, keep the grand old poetic traditions alive. The episode we give below is part of the long epic poem "Ik'mia'ko," and among the protagonists is Wo'swa, the "moonflower." This particular legend is called "The Bride of Pwa'ko," and is one of the improvised dances for which the Xumi are famous but which now, deplorably enough, have sunk to the level of a tourist attraction. In the ballet Wo'swa wears a headdress pl. xxvi of white feathers decorated with seven shiny spheres, the "seeds" of her corona.
The Xumi language is one of the Kwo'na group, known for its phonetic richness and vast rhetorical potential, evident even to those who do not understand the meaning. In view of these qualities we give the episode both in the original (with a word-by-word translation underneath) and in a free rendering by Wallace M. Donovan of the Museum of Indian Traditions in Tucson, Arizona.

i'pwa'ko 'shi'opkuno
of Pwako the bride
Pwa'ko'he si'ma'kwe te si'fushi i'yokwu inu'pnai'to mu' kwa'ma an'she
Pwako of Makwe and Fushi hunt Kwama
te'wu nau'sone a'nanamei i'ku mu'etto i'swe lu'too lu'konsiwa i'pwa'ko
seven-color-tail follow Too buffalo Pwako
mu'etto kwa i'kiusha na mu'kwa'ma 'na anwo chu'ettowe ti'la nap'kiu i'tu
follow night Kwama bat distant
pwa'ko'ni ten'okwina tna te'hula ha twa nu'kwa'ma na che'ten'ta a'huyu
Pwako lose help moon
i'pwa'ko 'hie sha ma'kwe te kna si'fushi 'ni'tan'ta sha'mi'li i'si'wo'swa
Pwako of Makwe and Fushi moon send Woswa

kni wunau'kiashe tikiakia ekte'apkman kia'wulwikia eith'ka kiu wo
seven seeds silver skirtserpents roots
an'nochijan twa ne mu'etto ne'pwa'lo mu'etto'swi i'wo'swa tuwo lu'too kwe'i gazelle-leg
follow Pwako follow Woswa Too
a'wo'swa ne we'atina in'i'pwa'ko twesa ko'leho'li shi'wammina twe lu'konsi
Woswa black Pwako kill most-big-buffalo
i'wo'swa tan'ta tse'ki a'shaw'li pwa'lo'na pish'le kwa u'liuna te tehula
Woswa to moon return Pwako sleep ask
ana tan'ta a'huyu i'pwan'chau te'opluno i'pwa'ko na mu'etto kwa te'opkuno
moon from sky young Pwako follow young
i'pwa'ko 'ite'chu'nia ak'we pish'le anopwa'ko twa ko u'liuna te'opkuno
Pwako sleep Pwako ask young
te'wo i'kwe'tenoka pa'yatamu tiu kwa tan'ta te'optekuna kwe i'pwa'ko
Who are? Payatamu great feast Pwako
a'pa'yatamu twe shi'optekunawi i'pva'ko ushi'mu'etto twa iu'too
Payatamu bride Pwako lead me Too
i'kiusha'ah twa pwa'ko ne pish'le twa i'kiusha zem'akwiwe a'pwa'ko
darkness Pwako sleep nights twelve Pwako
ha'ova i'pa'yatamu twa mu'etto a'pwa'ko ne u'she'liuna i'mu'tan'ta
waken Payatamu go Pwako call moon
i'nu'pa'yatamu i'pwan'chau kwa te'vo'swa a'nota wo'swa shi'opkuno zwe
Payatamu from sky Woswa your bride
a'pwa'ko an'teyo kwa shi'wo'swa u'liuwa ne twa wunau'kiashe i'nu'chupachi
Pwako strike Woswa fall seven seeds birth
i'etto'chu lu'kon'siweko twa ko'leho'i twa a'nanamei te'winau'sone in'ta
fox rabbit coyote rattlesnake wolf
intwaso ti'yi'ahalo tuwo konwasilu i'swano'kio tzwe zem'akwiwe we'pachichuna
gray turkey eagle cloud-rain twelve days.

The Bride of Pwa'ko (free rendering)

One day the young man Pwako, son of Ma'kwe the tortoise and Fushi the badger, went out hunting. Kwa'ma the bird with the seven-colored tail approached him. Kwa'ma said to Pwa'ko: "If you follow me I will lead you to the River Too where the buffalo go to drink." Kwa'ma flew into the forest and Pwa'ko followed him. Night came. In the darkness, the bright colors of Kwa'ma's tail could no longer be seen, and he flew away like a bat. Pwa'ko had no guide now, so he got lost. He asked the Moon to help him. "I am Pwa'ko," he said, "son of Ma'kwe the tortoise and Fushi the badger." And the Moon sent him the great flower Wo'swa. Her seven seeds shone like silver and she wore a skirt of serpents and her roots were the legs of a gazelle. Wo'swa said to Pwa'ko, "Follow me. I will lead you to the River Too." Pwa'ko followed the great flower and at dawn they reached the valley where the river lowed. "Here is the River Too," said Wo'swa, who in the daylight had become quite black in color. Pwa'ko saw many buffalo. He took arrow and killed the biggest of them. "I must go back to the Moon," said the great flower, and vanished. Pwa'ko rested all that morning. Then he wished to return to his village, but when night fell he got lost again. Then he said to the Moon: "Send me Wo'swa, your flower." And so, a young woman came down from the skies. "Follow me," she said. "I will lead you to your village." Pwa'ko followed the young woman and they walked for a long way. Then Pwa'ko said, "I am weary. I want to sleep." "Sleep then," said the woman. So Pwa'ko lay down and she stretched out beside him, and thus they slept for twelve days and nights. When Pwa'ko awoke the young woman was sleeping in his arms. He woke her, and asked, "Who are you?" And she answered, "I am Pa'yatamu, daughter of the Moon." and Pwa'ko said, "I want you as my bride." So they went to the village, and there was a great feast, and Pwa'ko married Pa'yatamu, daughter of the Moon.
One day Pwa'ko said to his bride, "I want to go back to the River Too, and you must lead me." So they went into the forest, and Pwa'ko followed his bride, who seemed to be made of silver from top to toe. Darkness came, and Pwa'ko said, "I am weary. Let us sleep." And they lay down and slept for twelve days and nights. But when Pwa'ko awoke his bride was no longer there. Then Pwa'ko called to the Moon: "O Moon, where is your daughter?" And the Moon said nothing, but down from the skies came the flower Wos'wa. "I want Pa'yatamu, my bride," said Pwa'ko. "I am your bride," said the flower. Then Pwa'ko was very angry, and he struck the Wo'swa. The seven silver seeds fell to the earth, and from them were born the fox, the rabbit, the coyote, the rattlesnake, the wolf, the gray turkey, and the eagle. A great cloud then covered the Moon, and it rained for twelve days and nights.

The seeds of the Giraluna also figure in the creation myths of certain African peoples. Typical of these is the Wombasa legend retold by Harold Wittens in his book Under the Wombasa Sky.5

The Sun and the Moon

Before they lived in the sky the Sun and the Moon dwelt on earth. They were peasants, and in their gardens they grew all the plants in the world. But one day the Sun made a flower that watched him wherever he went. When the Moon saw this flower she was envious, and she wanted it so much that during the night she stole it and planted it in her own garden. When day came the Sun could not see his favorite flower anywhere in his garden. He searched and searched; and during the night he found it in his neighbor's garden. There was a furious quarrel, and at last the Sun tore the plant from the earth so violently that its seeds flew right up into the sky. In this way were the stars created. The Moon climbed up on a cloud to get them back, but the cloud melted away and the Moon was left hanging in the sky. When day came the Sun planted another sunflower in his garden, and the plant began to grow. It grew higher and higher, and at last grew so high that the Sun could not gather the seeds. So he climbed up the stalk. But when he reached the flower itself the stalk broke, and the Sun was also left hanging in the sky. Half the seeds fell into his garden and half into the Moon's garden, and so it came about that there are flowers of the day and flowers of the night.

Giraluna gigas

Giraluna gigas is so called on account of its unusual height, some specimens being among the tallest plants known to parallel botany. It normally measures over two meters in height, but can approach as much as four meters, as in the case of the biggest of the Lady Isobel Middleton group. This group is in fact perfectly representative of G. gigas. It consists of three plants which include all the morphological features of the variety, as well as a number of somewhat disconcerting anomalies that have not failed to produce some wild theories and bitter disputes in the worlds of botany and biology.
The sensational discovery of this huge group of flowers in the Tampala mountains provides a good example of the determination and personal sacrifice that often lie behind the terse, impassive language of scientific communication. Luckily for us this discovery was the subject of a monograph by Maessens, issued in 1972 by the London publisher George Alien Thomas, who was for many years the close friend and patron of the famous Belgian biologist whose recent death is a great loss to science.
It was not Maessens who first discovered the group. He was in fact told about it by his compatriot Paul van Berghen, who in turn had heard it mentioned during a visit he paid to the London headquarters of the Royal Society for the Advancement of Parabotany. At a dinner given in his honor he met Sir Joseph Middleton, who had just returned from an expedition to the mountains of Tampala in northeastern India, an area particularly rich in parallel flora. The object of the expedition was to collect specimens of Protorbis minor, a kind of parallel mushroom which is quite commonly found under the huge genensa trees of the Landur forests, but which no one had ever managed to transport. Like many other parallel plants, Protorbis minor is no sooner touched than it dissolves into a pinch of grayish dust which certain tribes in the region mix with hallucinatory substances.
Sir Joseph told Van Berghen Iriefly about his expedition, and with tears in his eyes and a voice half strangled with emotion he recounted its tragic end. The details were passed on to Maessens a few months later in the course of a long recorded interview. He then compared this account with other testimony, and with several documents including the mysterious photographs taken by Marshall Norton, the news photographer and amateur parabotanist who accompanied the Middletons on their last adventure in India.
The expedition took place at the end of 1970, and consisted of Sir Joseph and Lady Isobel, Marshall Norton, and Patrick Hume, a chemical engineer who had invented a process whereby objects could be instantaneously enclosed in steophytic plastics. They halted for a while at the village of Banampur to organize the final phase of the expedition, and decided to spend the whole month of October in a strategically placed clearing in the Landur jungle. This clearing was duly marked on their map with the letter M.
On September 27, the small group left Banampur, along with a score of Amished porters laden with cases of camping equipment, scientific instruments, medicines, tinned food, and leathern bags full of drinking water.
The expedition reached point M right on time, on September 30. A few days were required to set up camp and organize the work program, but the prospects of success looked bright from the start. Indeed as early as the second day Lady Isobel came across a group of Protorbis minor only a few yards from the camp, while at the third attempt Hume succeeded in enclosing one in loco within a block of steophytyrol fifteen by fifteen by fifteen centimeters. This is now the most perfect inclusion among the seven splendid specimens on view in the Birmingham Natural History Museum.
During the next three weeks the Middletons collected twenty-four P. minor, several woodland tweezers which Hume managed to implastify, and a small Solea fortius with an unusually fine series of protuberances. A discovery of quite exceptional interest was made in the neighborhood of some caves which showed signs of having been once inhabited. This was a unique group of stone figures of the Akda period, rather roughly carved, which depicted erotic scenes in which Yakanan and Drapanias copulated according to the Thamed rite, while holding in their hands small Solea argentea whose tips were in the form of a lingam and a yoni.6
It was Marshall Norton who by a curious concatenation of circumstances revealed the existence of the group of Giraluna. He personally recounted to Maessens all the events that led up to this spectacular discovery. For the day of October 21 the four of them had planned a reconnaissance on horseback toward the valley of the Andrapati, on the western side of the jungle, but at the last moment Lady Isobel said she was not feeling well and Sir Joseph decided to stay behind in camp to keep her company. Patrick Hume, who had had some technical troubles with his last inclusions, seized the chance offered by this sudden change of plans to look into the partial failure of his equipment. So it came about that Norton was left to do this particular trip done. In his knapsack he packed a bottle of water, a box of biscuits, and a camera, and at about ten o'clock in the morning he rode off into the dark forest. Luckily the camera he took was a Japanese Dakon with a polyephymerol lens expressly designed and made for the chromometric photography of parallel plants. Such a camera is capable of registering colored pigments that are invisible to the human eye.
Toward the end of the morning Norton arrived at the edge of the jungle, tied his horse to the branch of a centuries-old genensa tree, and sat down on a large boulder to admire the view of the wonderful valley where, according to the Pradahana, Shiva brought the sacred calf Nandi to graze in the spring.
A slight heat haze lay on the grass, and the surrounding mountains were blue-violet. The River Andrapati (from Sanskrit andra, lazy) lay like a heavy silver ribbon in the bottom of the broad valley. The immensity of the silence was accentuated by just a few sounds:

Fig. 22 Marshall Norton's photograph of the Lady Isobel Middleton group

the rustle of the genensa leave, as the horse tossed his head, the distant and sporadic cry of the hooting oopoopa, a native of the valley, which from time to time seemed to be answering the all-too-brief call of the cinnabar cricket.
Norton, enraptured by the beauty of the scene, was suddenly overcome by a great nostalgia. He had once described this feeling as "nostalgia for the present, which rouses the desire to fix forever the image of the moment that we are afraid of losing, and which in fact it seems we have already lost, while in reality it is still with us." Automatically he took the camera from his knapsack, raised it to set the focus . . . and realized that he had brought the wrong camera! But instinctively he went through the routine of taking a photograph, setting the focus, clicking the shutter, aware all the time that he was performing a series of useless gestures, a kind of empty ritual. But things did not turn out that way at all. The photo he took was in all probability the most important revelation of the whole expedition7 (Fig. 22).
The next day he developed the roll of film in the portable but perfectly equipped darkroom that had been specially designed for the expedition by Seckton Brothers of London. He then found that, contrary to his expectations, the photograph was perfect, that the polyephymerol lens had acted as a polarizing filter and penetrated the haze, revealing details that had not been visible to the naked eye. By far the most obvious of these, right in the foreground, was the strange silhouette of a group of three enormous flowers. They could not have been more than ten yards from the spot where Norton had been sitting, and he was absolutely certain that he had not seen them.
Norton was so utterly astonished that in spite of the late hour he rushed to the Middletons' tent to wake them up and share the discovery with them. But he found the kerosene lamp still burning, while Sir Joseph and Hume, fully dressed, were sitting beside Lady Isobels camp bed. She seemed to be deeply asleep.
Hume tiptoed out of the tent and told Norton that in the last few hours Lady Isobel's condition had suddenly worsened. She had a raging fever that neither antibiotics nor injections of pirianthropophyllin had had the least effect on.
After a sleepless night the party decided to return to Banampur, where there was a doctor who even spoke a few words of English. It was the end of the expedition. Lady Isobel lay for two days and nights in a coma before she died, her body covered with small purplish blotches, in the little white temple of Banampur dedicated to the paunchy elephant-god Ganesha and transformed for the occasion into an improvised hospital room. As if by some kind of presage the temple had been completely rewhitewashed, inside and out, just a few weeks earlier. Also whitewashed was the only piece of furniture in the place, an English Victorian chest of drawers which served as an altar. On this was the statue of the god himself, from whose trunk there now hung the hypodermoclysis which had been used in the last desperate attempt to save the poor woman's life.
As soon as they learned of the death of Lady Isobel, the men of Banampur built a pyre on the little beach formed by a loop in the Bahtra River, and at sunset six Anished youths bore her body down to the beach, wrapped in a white sheet and placed upon a board which they held high above their heads. When the body had been arranged upon the pyre the face was unveiled. Sir Joseph came forward with slow and heavy steps, and into his wife's crossed hands he pressed a little cube of plastic containing a Protorbis minor. By his own wish, he himself set light to the pyre.
A few days later the three men started on the return journey. With them, together with their priceless scientific finds, they carried a small canister containing the ashes of the great biologist. And one foggy January night Sir Joseph emptied the ashes into the Thames, in the knowledge that in some very distant place unknown to man the gray waters of the Thames would mingle with those of the sacred Ganges, and consecrate the memory of Lady Isobel.
Less moving, perhaps, but a better guarantee of immortality, was the ceremony which took place a few months later at the Society for the Advancement of Parabotany On this occasion the group of Giraluna from the Andrapati Valley, the most important single discovery in parallel botany, was officially given the name of Lady Isobel Middleton group.
It was then that Maessens decided to study the three Giraluna gigas in person. On October 1, 1971, he started for the valley, stopping overnight in Banampur, where he visited the ill-fated temple. A piece of transparent plastic tubing was still hanging from the trunk of the elephant-god. He called on Dr. San to convey good wishes from Sir Joseph, and at dawn on October 2, accompanied by one of the young porters from the Middleton expedition and carefully following the itinerary mapped out for him by Norton, he set out on the long journey on horseback.
At sunset he reached the exact spot where the photographer had stopped, and sat on the very stone that had been described to him. He looked slowly around him, observing everything, and then he took out the now-famous photograph of the three Giraluna, which Norton had given him on the day of his departure from London. Everything fitted precisely. It was as if the landscape, creeping little by little into his consciousness, emerging like the image of a Polaroid photograph, came gradually to coincide with the picture he held in his hand. The vastness of the silence, also, suddenly deprived of the oopoopa's cry, was the very same that Norton had described with such loving exactitude. Maessens had planned to spend the night on that stone, beside the huge genensa tree to which he, like Norton before him, had tethergd the horses. The young Amished squatted down at the foot of the tree and went to sleep at once, while the scientist sat and sUred into the dark, waiting for the flowers to appear in the ambiguous light of the full moon.
He sat there for a long time. At last, at about two o'clock, and exactly where the photograph showed the silhouettes of the three plants, Maessens began to make out what at first was a barely discernible transparent shadow. Gradually, however, it took on more apparent substance, until the three flowers were perfectly visible.
In his little book An Adventure in Parallel Botany,8 Maessens does not attempt to conceal the emotion he felt at that moment. "I stayed fixed to that stone as if I were myself a part of it, holding my breath for fear that the least noise or movement might break the charm and cancel the image that was in the process of forming." However, during the next two hours he was able to observe, measure and record at leisure everything he needed for a complete examination of the plants. It was when he finally decided to approach the group that their outlines seemed literally to melt away. They did not return, though Maessens remained on the spot until dawn, when he rode back exhausted to Banampur, with his notebook crammed with information. And here in brief are his observations.
The group consists of three flowers, two more or less equal in height (GA and GB) and one, GC, which is taller and somewhat different in form. GA and GB correspond in every detail to the description of Giraluna gigas previously given by Hydendorp. Their overall height is 2.85 meters, while their abundant vetullae are composed of about a hundred pendulants, of an average diameter of three centimeters. The lowest of these extend onto the ground and give a look of stability to the plants. The column, of which only the upper part was not hidden by the avvulta, has a diameter of about twenty centimeters and is flecked here and there with paramimetic bark. The coronas have no petals, but contain spherostills twenty-five millimeters in diameter which gleam with a yellowish metallic light vaguely reminiscent of brass. Flower GA has fifty-four spherostills, while to judge from the empty sockets in its corona flower GB is missing eighteen. The coronas are forty-eight centimeters in diameter and about eighteen centimeters thick. The angle between the corona and the column is about thirty-seven degrees.
Flower GC, both in the description given by Maessens and in Norton's original photograph, is in many respects different from the other two, and it is about this third flower that Hydendorp and other scientists have expressed doubts and reservations. According to Maessens it has an overall height of 3.60 meters, while the diameter of the column is less than that of the other two. The corona, which in proportion to its height ought to be well over fifty centimeters in diameter, is also smaller than those of the others, and is completely without "seeds." But the oddest feature of this flower is that it has no avvulta. There are a few very long pendulants which appear to have been crushed against the column and look like part of it. Although on a completely different scale, of course, they are a little like the dribbles of wax running down the sides of a candle. Maessens declares that beside its two sisters GC gives the impression of being dead. "But for the fact that we are concerned with a parallel plant," he writes, "I would have no hesitation in describing it as a dead plant. But there can be no death without life in the proper sense, and this cannot exist without the binomial time/substance (t/s). Now, as we know, parallel flora owes its entire nature to the absence of this binomial. It is therefore impossible that the tallest Giraluna of the Lady Isobel Middleton group could be a dead plant, or to put it another way, less living than the other two." For this author the plant only has individual features that are different, and one gets the impression that he is at pains to avoid the admission of an anomaly.
The publication of his study gave rise to a storm of conjectures and hypotheses. Some scholars such as Giraudy, even hold the opinion that it is not a Giraluna at all, and perhaps not even a parallel plant. Deliberately ignoring the selenotropic existence of the plant, he maintains that chance alone has placed this flower beside two others of similar form. He thinks that it might even be a petrified sunflower of the post-Erocene era, and to support his view he points to the absence of spherostills and of any real pendulants to speak of. But he does not explain how a fossil plant, concrete and inert, can vanish at the approach of a man, as the testimony of Maessens expressly states. Hydendorp attacks Giraudy directly, and puts forward the simple hypothesis of an anomaly. He says that known examples of parallel plants are now sufficiently numerous to allow us to generalize and classify. But we have no guarantee that just beyond the limits of our knowledge there is not some completely baffling anomaly. "If we know of only two individuals of a species," says Hydendorp, "it is absurd to call one of them anomalous. If one of them were to be so called, which one would it be? But if we know of a thousand specimens an anomaly would become possible, and with ten thousand it would be probable."
But the basic question remains: Is the concept of anomaly possible in the case of parallel plants? In normal botany anomalies occur due to internal and external acts and events. Irregularities, fractures, or a wrong distribution of the anthrosomes in the Olsen chain can certainly cause changes of form (e.g. the four-leafed clover), of color (September rose), or of surface (scaly plane tree). It is the same for atmospheric agents, the actions of men and animals, and ecological changes of all kinds. But in the case of parallel plants, for the individual as well as for the species, formal characteristics are part of a special and constant mode of being themselves. If self-presentation is sufficient to justify the generalization that defines a species, then it will also justify those particular formal deviations that make each individual different from the others and recognizable as a separate entity.
In the specific case of flower GC of the Lady Isobel Middleton group we can only go on waiting for new discoveries and explanations. If Giraudy is wrong, and chance has not given us a petrified sunflower of the post-Erocene era beside two Giraluna, then the possibility remains that what we have is an anomalous specimen of a hitherto unknown plant similar to the Giraluna. Only the future can tell us for certain.

Giraluna minor

This is a miniature Giraluna that scarcely ever reaches, and never pl. xxvn exceeds, ten centimeters in height. Its habitat is the undergrowth, and particularly that of the creeping Anaclea that wreathes itself in a chaotic network around the knotty roots of the genensa and white tarica trees of tropical forests. Hidden in the darkness cast by this luxuriant vegetation, G. minor lives alone or in small groups, offering its tiny gleaming seeds to an invisible moon.
The flower has all the features of the common Giraluna. The differences lie entirely in its size and proportions. The column is little more than seven centimeters tall, and is enveloped right up to the corona in a small avvulta composed of hundreds of pendulants as fine as threads, which sink into the black moss at the base of the plant. The corona is proportionately quite large, its diameter often reaching half the total height of the plant, and it has a few rudimentary petals. The "seeds" are ^.5 millimeters, the same size as the ball bearings used for bicycles. They are shinier than the spherostills of the common Giraluna, resembling silver if they can be said to resemble anything. It is hard to understand how they can shine, buried as they are in the nearly total darkness of the undergrowth. They impress one as being full of an interior light, like a voice crying out in protest or desire.
Giraluna minor has sometimes been mistaken for Protorbis minor, which shares the same environmental conditions. The two plants resemble one another chiefly in size and in color, but P. minor does not have the spherostils which are such an outstanding feature of G. minor.
Hydendorp, to whom we owe the detailed description of these minuscule parallel flowers, has collected a good number of specimens, mostly set in plastic by the instantaneous in loco method developed by Hume for the preservation of P. minor. But his collection also includes a few rare specimens which have been transhabitated along with a sizable chunk of surrounding soil. Unfortunately the plants were taken to England a few months ago, and they are losing their substance so rapidly that it is feared they will soon cease to exist altogether. We may be left with the spherostills and the slice of original habitat, which will be useful to Hydendorp for his studies in parallel ecology, a branch of science of which he has only just sketched out the basic principles.9
G. minor has been found in nearly all the tropical rain forests of the world, from Brazil to New Anantolia. The Indians of the Rio Rojo attribute special powers to these minute nocturnal plants. They say that the young alligators that infest the river have an overwhelming craving for them, and as they wander further and further from the river in their f'antic search, they eventually die of hunger and thirst. If it were not for this, according to the Indians, the river would be so overpopulated with alligators that it would become a solid mass of the creatures, a hard scaly road through the jungle.

PL. XXVII Giraluna minor in typical habitat


1. Johannes Hydendorp, De Mazndbloem (Nederlandse Uitgeversmaat-schappij, Honingen, 1973).
2. The so-called Giraluna of Sommacampagna is a bronze which Giacomo Roselli has dated at the third century b.c. It was discovered while digging the foundations of a cooperative winery near Caselle di Sommacampagna (Verona). We do not know if this magnificent piece of sculpture is a copy or a reconstruction based on tales or old legends. The only other object found during the same excavations was a tot decorated with small round protuberances the same size as the spherostills of the Giraluna. These occur at regular intervals around its rim.

3. Anseimo Geremia, "Un ponte tti. Ie botaniche?" (Quademi Benenton, January 1968). Geremia is Curator of the Parallel Botany Department of the Fabrizio Benenton Natural History Museum, Verona.

4. Born in Bierskonov in 1820 to a family of impoverished peasants, Oncharov died in Nizhni Novgorod in 1888. He wrote a number of ambitious but unsuccessful novels. "The Flower with the Golden Seeds" is one of the stories in The Perfumed Sky of Biersk, a book for children and the only one of his works to earn him some repute.

5. Harold Wittens, Under the Wombasa Sky (Simmons and Son, Liverpool, 1937).

6. In Thamed mythology Yakanan and Drapanias represent the anthromorphization of the lingam and the yoni. During the three days of the Hamadush the Yakanan on horseback chase the Drapanias, who flee from them swiftly on winged gazelles. Finally they copulate with them in the Ldhamna position, holding the symbolic silver whips above their heads.

7. Marshall Norton, Four American Photographers (Hyford Gallery, London, 1965).

8. Albert Maessens, An Adventure in Parallel Botany (George Alien Thomas, London, 1972).

9. Johannes Hydendorp, Parallel Ecology and Plant Behavior (Van der Vos, Amsterdam, 1974).


THE SOLEA

Of all the parallel plants of the Beta group, the Solea is the most complex in meanings and suggestions. Luckily for us it is also the one of which we have the largest number of detailed and convincing reconstructions, and by a process of repeated comparison we have gained a complete and exact knowledge of its morphology. The plant is extremely widespread in geographical distribution but is nevertheless fairly rare, and its origins are lost in the depths of time. Our knowledge therefore represents a considerable scientific feat.
Unlike other parallel plants, in which the relation between form and meaning is nearly always tenuous and often concealed, the Solea expresses its existential problems both directly and dramatically through its physical mode of being. Its nature and its morphology are inseparable, and they must be examined together in order to shed light, if possible, on their curious interdependence.
This is not easy, because if, on the one hand, the Solea expresses itself through its form, on the other, we are faced with the fact that what this form expresses is the complete inability of the plant to express itself. Paradoxically, its drive to self-assertion in the complex world of botany culminates in a language which, though rudimentary, in some way succeeds in embodying the frustrations arising from not being able to produce leaves, fruit, branches, flowers, and even a real set of roots. Spinder points out that this implies a form of "vegetal" imagination, obviously at a subconscious level, an awareness of its limitations, of what it lacks.
"But," queries Spinder, "what kind of self-image can a plant have?"1 The gradual realization of a genetic program implies a continual process of proposal and feedback, in constant reference to a complete and final model. In the course of growth, any deviations from this program have to be checked and corrected, while temptations have to be suppressed and anxieties soothed. And what is more, we have to reckon with the environment, which imposes its inexorable limitations from without. In normal botany, to bring about the final "presence" of a plant, to perfect its individual mode of being and its insertion into the general system of the biosphere, this process is carried out constancy by all the organs, and by each according to the function proper to it. In other words the genetic program is the instrument by which the adult plant is formed, while the model, like a kind of consciousness or self-image, is spread throughout all the parts of the plant. If the Solea belonged to normal botany, the cause of its pathetic arrested development might well be found, like a phenomenon of degeneration, in hostile environmental conditions or in the defective execution of the genetic program. But this would at the most justify an individual anomaly. The play of natural forces, utterly devoted to survival, would not permit the evolution of a variety that was permanently incomplete or crippled. In all probability, mutations of a defensive type would come into play to bestow on the plant a different normality and give birth to a new species.
In parallel botany, any such theory, which implies an ontogeny based on the processes of growth, must obviously be rejected from the start. Its plants, motionless in time, are foreign to any type of evolutionary change, including degeneration. They are as they are, impervious to conditions alien to their own manner of being. What seems to suggest an anomaly, such as the stunted excrescences of the Solea, must in fact be an integral and permanent part of their morphology.
All the same, Spinder thinks that even within the limits of a closed and static system such as parallel botany, the forms of the Solea might have some precise significance. He compares the plant to a piece of sculpture. "Its meanings," he says, "do not reveal themselves gradually, as with a normal plant in the course of growth. They simply are, in the same way as the idea of a piece of sculpture is in the mind of the artist who creates it. We can only attempt to read them if we move, as it were, from the outside of time to the inside, thus repeating-albeit in reverse-the imaginary creative process."
For Spinder it would be absurd to attribute to the Solea impulses or frustrations that would imply an awareness of its own body. If by means of its rudimentary forms the body of the plant expresses its incompleteness, its inhibitions, refusals and failures, this does not for a moment imply that this can be attributed, to interior exigencies or external conditioning. It is at part of a manner of being, not a manner of becoming. "It is," writes Spinder, "like a miracle never brought to a conclusion, suspended at the very climax of its performance. The fascination and beauty of the melancholy Solea lie in the motionlessness of its becoming, frozen at the critical moment of evolution."
Jonathan Chase accepts Spinder's theory but refuses to be inhibited by it. "The theory put forward by our illustrious colleague," he writes in The Journal of Parallel Botany, "precludes any description that is not a cold mechanical inventory of the morphological properties of the plant. Without saying so in so many words, as if he were afraid of the consequences, Spinder implies that the form of the Solea is purely symbolic, as its very presence is: 'Symbol of itself, like a piece of sculpture.' But in this case we must have the courage to give free rein to our imagination. If, as seems likely, we cannot attribute an interior life to the Solea, then we must invent one for it."
Chase, thus freed from what he calls "the absurdities of dumb man's speech," goes on to explain the meaning of the Solea in the following way:

"The Solea does not, like normal plants, possess an awareness of its own being and aspirations. It does not live, like its sisters in normal botany, constantly in reference to a genetically prescribed model. Rather, we think it is pervaded by a general sensuality, a state of expectation, forever aroused by the signals it receives but always disappointed by its own responses. The messages that arrive from the outside and touch the minuscule erogenous zones distributed all over its body, these are the parallel equivalent of the normal genetic program. The messages propose leaves and stalks, buds and flowers, but the Solea, daughter of a different kingdom, is sadly forced to reject them all. Formless growths, bunches of swellings, branches that cling to its body like veins, and here and there a crippled wing of a leaf, the marred prelude to a leaf-bearing branch -these are the melancholy proofs of its frustrated dream."

The Solea can now be recognized in many ancient legends of the most diverse ethnic groups, but in Western scientific literature direct references to it are few and of doubtful veracity. The first mention of "a plant which cannot ripen, standing upright in the bare soil of the [rubber] plantations" is found in Antonio Guerrero's classic volume.2 In 1896 an explorer and raconteur from Dijon, a certain Jacques Pubiennes, wrote an article for the Journal des Families in which he alluded to "a plant obscene on account of its phallic verticality," a phrase which cost him his job on the magazine and his secretaryship of the Socete de la Decouverte, which then had its headquarters in the capital city of snails and mustard.
In his book Flora South of the Border John Foreman, an American naturalist, tells of a journey through Patagonia in 1902.3 In the course of it, he writes, "we saw strange plants in those woods: bare stems completely without leaves, and even without color, to which the Indians attribute supernatural powers. They say that these plants, which look like the knotty walking sticks carried by old men, that in these parts are called paarstoks, have not been seen to grow or to die within living memory."
More recently the Dutch science magazine Wetenschaap voor ledereen carried an article in which a certain Jan Van Handel claimed to have attempted to pick some plants, which from his description bear some resemblance to the Solea, in a rubber plantation in Sumatra. He writes that in spite of the frail appearance of the plants, and the fact that they had no roots, it proved impossible to tear them up. When the dajaks working in the plantation realized what he was doing they became extremely agitated, but when he tried to ask them about the plants they fell silent and refused to reply.
We are uncertain about the accuracy of these descriptions. The only Solea actually gathered, and the only one we have been able to subject to firsthand examination in spite of its state of semidisintegration, is the specimen of S. fortus brought back from Tampala by Sir Joseph Middleton. Many scientists, including Spinder, have expressed doubts as to its attribution, and these doubts are partly based on the fact that near the top of the plant there are two little branches, one of which bears what looks like a small trifid leaf.
The Solea is not a selenotropic plant like the Giraluna and, theoretically, ought to be perfectly visible. But, as in the case of all plants of the Beta group, our knowledge unfortunately cannot be based on direct observation. The descriptions we have quoted above are probably ingenuous attempts to take myths and legends gathered in places where the Solea has existed and pass them off as firsthand information.

Fig. 23 Marcello Vanni, director of the Campora Laboratory

Luckily, however, and thanks to a grant from the Joachim Rosenbach Foundation of Milwaukee, the Laboratorio delle Campora has succeeded in putting together a dozen casts of reconstructions of Solea found in as many collections, museums, and laboratories (pl. xxviii) throughout the world. This small group of specimens has in the first place enabled students to establish analogies which in turn have formed the basis for a first tough morphology of the plant. By collaborating with other laboratories, Professor Vanni, the director of the Laboratorio delle Campora has been able not only to enlarge his collection but also, thanks to the personal generosity of Mrs. Emily Rosenbach, to buy a few very rare and precious original reconstructions made in loco. The laboratory has prepared a general inventory, updated to December 1975, of all the Solea in museums, laboratories, and private collections. So far twenty-eight plants have been recorded, but it is to be hoped that after the publication of this little catalogue of Vanni's there will be news of many more plants, now hidden away in secret or inaccessible places.
The catalogue includes a drawing of a Solea based on the collation of all known specimens: a theoretical Solea, therefore, incorporating the average forms, proportions, and features of all the plants studied. Vanni points out that there was no particular difficulty involved in achieving this generalized model, given the marked similarity between one specimen and another. As far as size is concerned the Solea can be divided into two main groups, those about forty centimeters in height (S. minor) and those which measure about eighty centimeters (S. major). The two exceptions to this rule are the para-parasitic 'tree-trunk" Solea in the Birmingham Museum and the great gilded Solea recorded by Woodby, both one hundred and fifty centimeters in height. The proportions remain more or less constant in all varieties, and they also have protuberances of similar shape. We have thus been able to gain a fair degree of knowledge of the most striking feature of the plant, which is the particular rhythm which seems to involve all its parts and which appears to be the sane for all known specimens. For some time Spinder worked with Vanni at the Laboratorio delle Campora, and it is to him that we owe the interesting account of the calculations that led to the precise definition of this rhythm. These were based on the study of the "model" Solea, which is now known to science as Solea Vannii. They tend to confirm the insight of the great Malguena, who when he first saw the drawing exclaimed: "Parece una falseta!" It was in fact the Spanish botanist who gave the plant its generic name, which he took from the flamenco soleares, which the Andalusian gypsies call soled. As this type of song bears such a marked resemblance to the plant, a brief explanation of it might help us to understand the latter's basic structure.
"The soleares," writes the flimencologist Donado Malguena, brother of the famous botanist, 'is one of the matrices of gypsy music, a cante jondo. Its name is probably a gypsy translation of the Spanish word soledades, subsequently abbreviated to soled. Like many other flamenco songs the soled is slow and melancholy. The subject is nearly always desperation, the pangs of a love despised or betrayed or lost.

Es tu quere como er biento y er mio como la piera que no tiene mobimiento
Yo me voy a gorbe loco porque una bina che tengo la esta bendemiando otro4

PL. XXVIII Casts of Solea

"The rhythm of the soled, so hard to remember in spite of the heavy accentuation, is the very one that gives flamenco music that strange mixture of monotony and vitality which is so great a part of its charm. It consists of twelve beats with the accents on the third, sixth, eighth, tenth, and twelfth, in the course of the song and the dance these accents are often marked by clapping the hands (palmas) or tapping with the heels. The rhythm is called the compos, and it is performed on the guitar virtually as percussion. It is alternated with short musical phrases known as falsetas, which fill in the pauses between the verses of the song. The compos of the falseta, which is also strictly divided into twelve beats, is often disguised by frequent and prolonged rubati."
The analogies between the topological rhythm of the protuberances on the Solea, which Spinder describes as "fructescences in the state of intention (Urfruchten),' and the time-rhythm of the flamenco soled are so great that we are tempted to see a connection between the two. This is absurd of course. Even so, the fact remains that S. Vannii can be read like a tablature. The distances between the twelve rudimentary "bunches" which are found in a spiral round the plant precisely reflect the sequence and proportions of the compos; 3-6-8-10-12. Within the bunches themselves the rhythm is much tighter, but it is the same. The single protuberances, which Jonathan Chase takes as representing a failed attempt at foliation, occur at intervals of six and twelve beats. All these excrescences are connected by long undulating filaments which alone or in groups envelop the plant and occasionally weave patterns. In the context of the rhythm of the soleares these would be falsetas, sometimes flowing and sad, at other times nervous and passionate.
In the summer of 1975 Vanni learned that the great guitarist Antonio de los Rietes was in nearby Siena for a series of lectures and concerts at the Accademia Chigiana, so he took this opportunity to invite him to the Laboratorio delle Campora. The tocaor from Jerez was immediately fascinated by the strange plants, and eagerly consented to take part in the experiments which Vanni proposed to him. These consisted in "transiting" the spatial rhythms of the plants into musical terms. And so it came about that for some days de los Rietes was a guest at the laboratory, and there he "played" twelve Solea in the possession of the laboratory, as well as the theoretical Vannii. Recorded on tape, these Solea provide dramatic confirmation of the exactness of Spinder's calculations and the correctness of his interpretation. The guitarist himself was amazed at the result of the experiments, which constituted the first musical rendering of any plant, normal or parallel. The Solea Vanni now forms part of his concert repertoire of cante jondo, with the title "Camporanas." The music is characterized by long ad lib passages followed by brusque a tempi, which give it all the sensuality and melancholy so typical of the soleares. These soleas of de los Rietes do more than simply confirm the mathematical and topological insights of Spinder: they are proof of the analogies existing between the various specimens, the same analogies that made it possible to reconstruct S. Vannii in the first place.
There are only negligible differences between the rhythmic structures of the thirteen soleares. What gives each song its individual character is the tissue of the melodic lines, the length of the falsetas, the rubati derived from the shape of the veins, the protuberances, and the isolated amorphous growths. Nor should we forget the masterly execution of de los Rietes, that true duende of his that gives each piece an unmistakable stamp of its own.
A feature that might cause some surprise, on the other hand, is the traditional rasgueado which ends all these soleares, emphatic and violent but also in a sense stylized and banal, and not an (pl. xxix) adequate expression of the tips of the plants which it is attempting to interpret. Evidently the Spanish guitarist did not succeed in reconciling the typically flamenco rhythmic and melodic coherence which all the plants share, with the spirit expressed by their tips, which vary from the festive baroque of No. 3 to the passionate simplicity of No. 19. His inability to find musical terms to generalize such marked differences spotlights a phenomenon which not even scientists have been able to understand. "How can it be," asks Spinder, "that a species showing such complex analogies between one specimen and another can permit each plant to express itself in a final statement of such utter individuality?" So far neither the Swiss biologist nor Professor Vanni has thought fit to advance any theories about this phenomenon, which is unique in parallel botany.( pl. XXIX)

PL. XXIX Tips of Solea

If we were to join up all the places on the globe where Solea have been seen and recorded, we would have a necklace as long as a meridian. Stories, myths, and legends referring directly or indirectly to the plant were once hard to find, but now they come to our attention quite frequently, and sometimes from the most unlikely places. This is largely due to the dedication and perseverance of Joseph Ascott, who has spent three years collecting and editing all available literature on the Solea. Ascott, who taught for many years at Columbia University, was in a position to use the vast network of informants and correspondents which previously enabled him to make New York the richest mine of anthropological documents in the world. Letters, telegrams, and even phone calls now quite regularly arrive at the Laboratorio delle Campora, from people who think they might possibly have Some piece of information that in some way concerns the Solea. The bibliography of the plant is already fairly extensive, and from it we have chosen a number of legends that shed some light on the emotional impact the plant must have had on the vivid imaginations of peoples whose survival involved direct participation in the mysteries of nature.

The Silver-leafed Tchavo

In the village of Zibersk in Tarzistan they tell the story of the Silver-leafed Tchavo. Leo Lionni,5 the famous author of books for children, heard it while traveling in Russia many years ago, and it was on this tale that he based one of his most celebrated fairy tales, "Tico and the Golden Wings." This American writer, who has been living for some years near Siena, Italy, is a frequent visitor at the Laboratorio delle Campora and a personal friend of the director, Professor Marcello Vanni. Thinking that he recognized the Solea in the generous shrub of the story, he communicated the fact to Joseph Ascott, who included the fable in his compendious bibliography of the plant.

Near Zibersk there are some grassy hills where the shepherds graze their sheep and goats in the summertime. On top of one of these hills there was a small thicket of Tchavo bushes, which grow to a height of about a meter and have straight smooth stems and very shiny leaves shaped rather like vine leaves.
In that thicket there was one Tchavo that never managed to grow like the others. It could only put out a few wretched buds that never burst into flower, but turned as hard as wood and seemed to die. There among all the flourishing leafy plants it looked as if it had been stripped bare by goats, although as everyone knows goats do not eat Tchavo leaves, which are as bitter as gall.
One day a poor shepherd, weary and sad, was sitting beside this miserable plant, this leafless waity stunted stem, and at a certain moment he burst into tears. "What am I to do?" he sobbed. "How am I to buy medicines for my little sick child?" Scarcely had he uttered the last word than one of the hard buds put forth a little twig bearing two silver leaves. The shepherd could barely believe his eyes. Very carefully he picked the two silver leaves, and to his astonishment he saw that their places were taken by two real leaves.
Some days later a young woman was sitting near the thicket, and the air was still and silent. Between one sigh and the next she said:
" Ah, if only I had the money for a dowry I would get married!" Then she heard a sudden metallic rustle. A twig had sprouted from the stem, and it bore two silver leaves. Excitedly she plucked the leaves, and two real leaves grew in their stead. Then it was the turn of a poor peasant whose horse had just died: he too received two silver leaves. Then the same thing happened to a miller who had had all his flour eaten by rats. Each of them vowed to keep their good luck a secret, but even so the news of ths Silver-leafed Tchavo did not take long to spread through the village. One day it reached the ears of Szabit, a rich moneylender. He hurried to the top of the hill as fast as his legs would carry him, and there he sat down beside the Tchavo and began to moan: "Alas, what am I to do, now that I am the poorest and most wretched man in all Russia?" Then he looked anxiously at the plant. Yes, a twig sprang out with two leaves, and then another, and another, until it was the tallest and finest plant in the whole thicket. But the leaves were not silver. They were real leaves, green and tender, that rustled in the wind.

Waa'ku-ni Creates Words

One of the most interesting legends of the Paraguayan Pa'nu'ra Indians, who live on the Rio Rojo, is the one which tells of the creation of words. It is a perfect example of the oral literature of South America, and was recorded by the French biologist Lamont-Paquit. It bears eloquent witness to the extraordinary gifts of wisdom, imagination and poetic instinct of this tribe, which ethnological textbooks seldom hesitate to describe as the most primitive in the entire American continent.

When Waa'ku-ni had created the earth he scratched ten furrows in it with his fingers and sown the ten sounds of words. When spring came every furrow bloomed with red, blue and yellow flowers, and black flowers and white flowers; and Waa'ku-ni called them Ta-wa-te. But between one Furrow and the next Waa'ku-ni saw there were small bare stalks, without any flowers or leaves. He knew that he had not sown them, and he understood at once that they were the flowers of silence.
He sent his son Wo'ke down to the earth and told him: "Go and cultivate the Ta-wa-te." So Wo'ke watered the flowers with the rain of his sweat, and the Ta-wa-te grew tall and strong and put forth many buds. But the plants between one furrow and the next also grew, and one day, for fear that they should spread into the furrows, Wo'ke decided to pull them up. But every time he pulled up a flower of silence, one of the Ta-va-te lost its color. "What should I do?" he asked his father. "Leave them be," replied Waa'ku-ni, "for every flower of sound must dwell beside a flower of silence."
When the flowers were as tall as a man Waa'ku-ni said to Wo'ke, "Now make as many bundles of Ta-wa-te as there are men and women on the earth, and give one bundle to each of them, and tell them to make words. Then make the same number of bundles of the flowers of silence, and give them to men and women, and tell them to make silence." And this Wo'ke did, and men and women were able to speak together, and to be silent and listen.

The Stake

The Patona Indians who live on the south bank of the Rio de los Almas have a legend that was recorded by Randolph Reich and quoted in full in his Botanical Psychogenesis.6

On an island in the delta of the river there is a dense wood of larch trees. In this wood there lived a wicked white fox called Sipa. To persuade her not to eat their hens the Indians drove a stake in underneath the larches. Every evening they tied a toucan to this stake, and every night the fox came and carried off the toucan.
One morning the toucan was still there, and of the fox there was no sign. The Indians thought that the fox must surely be dead, so they waited for a day and then ,et the toucan free. But when they tried to remove the stake they found it was impossible. They asked the shaman of the village for advice, and he said: "Do not move the stake, for it contains the life of Sipa."
One night a hunter passing near the wood heard the sound of sobbing. He went nearer, and found it was the stake that was weeping. Then the shaman gathered together all the people of the village, and they sat round the stake and called upon the soul of the dead fox. Little by little the stake began to put forth buds and other small excrescences as hard as wood, and each time it put forth a bud it stopped weeping for a while. When it was all covered with buds and warts and excrescences the stake ceased weeping altogether.
Each year since then, the Indians have taken a dead toucan to the stake, and during the night the stake has devoured the toucan.

The Stone of Truth

The island of Taokee is a great round flat totally bald pebble, one of the Baratonga Archipelago, which lies in the Pacific between latitudes 19 and 22 S and longitudes 161 and 165 W. In the few cracks to be found in its surface there is a very fine gray dust, so heavy that not even the March winds manage to shift it. When the sea is stormy, the spray mixes with this dust to form a kind of leaden plaster that little by little fills up the cracks. Within the next few decades the island will be completely without pores.
Long ago an Espak sparrow, probably lost from a sailing ship that was threading its way through the archipelago, flew over the island but did not alight there. However, it left on the island a few drops of its green excrement. At the end of the last century, Herman von Bockensteil, the only explorer who has dared to set foot on Taokee, described these tiny sp3ts as being a type of Klapaname lichen-"the only sign of life on the island."
For the Antona, natives of the nearby islands, Taokee is taboo. They do not come in close with their canoes even though they know that in the shadow of that great boulder there are millions of the little trementids that with their sweet flesh are a favorite prey of the fishermen of the islands.

PL. XXX The great Stone of Ta

The legend which explains this taboo was recorded by that unpredictable but conscientious English reporter and helatologist Samuel Doncett, who paid a visit to the Baratonga group in the summer of 1907. He heard the story from a native of the nearby island of Tsa-wa, a certain Sep'a-aok. We have transcribed it from Doncett's original manuscript, now preserved in the library of the University of Hawaii.
Sep'a-nok put his lips to the great stone* in the midst of the (pl. xxx) village of Tsa-wa. The Antona do this to show that what they are about to say is the absolute truth. This kind of kissing-oath is done on one's knees. In fact there is a smooth hollow in the stone about forty-five inches from the ground, a mute witness to the many thousands of tales which have been told by generations of natives. Having taken his vow, Sep'a-nok told me the following story:

"The Great Disk O, father of all living creatures, cast eighteen handfuls of earth into the sea. Thus he made the eighteen Baratonga islands. With the clay that stuck to his fingers he made a flat round shape like a pat-la, and this he threw further away, and it became the island of Taokee. But the soil of Taokee was the dirt from the hand of the Great Disk, and for this reason it was more fertile than that of other islands in the group, so that many grasses and trees grew there.
"One day there was a great storm, and Taokee turned upside down. The trees were left with their tops hanging down in the water, while the surface was covered with roots which soon died. The ants and the birds tried in vain to walk upside down with their legs in the air, but they were all drowned. When he saw all this, O said: "Ak se tikona," and the dead roots were turned to dust. Then he said: "A'se nare!" and the rains came down and the dust was turned to stone. And then he said: "Se-na nuaroa!" and a plant began to grow out of a hole that had been left in the very middle of the island. It had a mighty stem, but however hard it tried it could not put forth a single bud. Then it began to weep, and the Great Disk heard its weeping, and he said: "Sua ne poa!" and the plant went to sleep. In its sleep it dreamt a strange dream. It dreamt that it was surrounded by itself and was so numerous as to fill the whole island. When O saw the dream he said: "Anyone who wakes the flower from its dream will be eaten by the dragon He-Ka." Thus it happened that so as not to wake the plant the island became taboo, and no one has ever set foot there."

When he had finished I pointed to the distant island and asked Sep'a-nok, "But do you think that the plant is really there on the island?" The native looked at me in astonishment and said, "Can't you see that the island is covered with invisible plants?"
Even today the natives of Tsa-wa sometimes stop their Chevrolets near the spot where there once stood Ta, the stone of truth, and where there is now a traffic light. Kissing the iron pillar of the traffic light, they tell their children the legend of the Solea of Taokee.

The Golden Spear of Tschwama

Bhinaswar is a city in the Indian State of Orissa, to the south of Calcutta. It is famous for its magnificent twelfth-century temples which rise like a thicket of red cacti prickly with statues and occupy almost the whole northeast corner of the city. Inside the temples there is a profusion of very fine bronze and stone statues of Ganesha, Vishnu, Ramesh, and all the other divinities of the promiscuous Olympus of the Hindus, while the great doors are embellished by lingams and yonis of all sizes and materials.
In front of one of the temples, the immensely sacred Tchhimbha, there is a stone platform bearing a very curious lingam, not smooth and stylized like the others but as thin as a stick and covered with warty knobs. Unlike the rounded hemisphere which tops the typical lingam, this comes to a rather misshapen point. If we were not aware of the phallic symbolism of anything that rises aggressively erect in the vicinity of a temple, we might be tempted to say that it was a petrified tree trunk, or at least a model of a tree that has lost all its branches. And we would not be far from the truth. This piece of sculpture has a strange history, which seems to originate in a legend in the Pradishana.

One day Dhana, the beautiful young wife of Prince Tschwama, went into the palace orchard to gather mangoes. The ripest fruit being on the highest branches, Dhana fetched her husband's golden spear to knock them to the ground. But she gave one blow that was so hard and awkward that the spear broke in two. Fearing her husband's anger, Dhana buried the pieces in the soft earth of the orchard.
When she returned to the palace, she found her husband there and he said: "Bring me my golden spear. A hundred warriors of Amhadur are besieging the city." Dhana could not confess to the truth, and she went into the orchard and wept bitterly. But where her tears fell, there the earth broke open and there grew a knobbly stem, as tall as a spear. Then Dhana heard a voice, and turning around in surprise she saw Lord Krishna in the branches of the great mango tree. "Take that stick," he told her. "It is the spear of Tschwama." Dhana took the stick from the earth and brought it to her husband. "Lord Krishna told me this is your spear," she said. Then Tschwama flew into a rage. 'Do you take me for a fool?" he cried. And he seized the stick and began to beat his wife. But she felt nothing. Tschwama struck with all his force, but Dhana merely smiled and said: "I feel no pain." "hen Tschwama was frightened, and dropped the stick on the ground.
Dhana picked up the stick and ran outside. On the green lawn before the palace Tschwama's horse was quietly grazing. Dhana leaped into the saddle and galloped off to the hill where the hundred warriors were waiting, brandishing the stick above her head. When the warriors saw a young woman coming against them with nothing but a knobbly stick they began to laugh, but Dhana attacked them one after the other, slaying twenty and putting the rest to flight. Then she returned to the orchard to put the stick back where she had found it.
But lo, in the earth where the stick had grown there now stood Tschwama's spear, shining and perfect. Dhana happily plucked it from the earth and put the stick in its place. Then she hurried to the palace. "Tschwama," she cried, "here is your spear!" But Tschwama had been informed of his wife's mighty feats, so he said: "Dhana, I do not want my spear. I want that stick."
Together they went into the orchard, but they found that the stick had grown a great web of brariches and leaves, in the midst of which there hung two shining golden mangoes. There was a rustling in the leaves of the great mamo tree, and looking up they saw Lord Krishna sitting among the branches. "Pick the mangoes of the Praham," he said. "But first, o Tschwama, you must break your spear, for you will need it no more."
Tschwama broke the spear and picked the fruit. Then he led Dhana back into the palace and lay with her. Dhana bore a son and they called him Prahambhai. And every year on the twenty-seventh of July Tschwama and Dhana and Prahambhai would go into the palace orchard and pick the golden mangoes, while Lord Krishna played the flute among the branches.

Strangely enough we come across the dream of the Solea again, with a curious twist to it, in the memoirs of Bohm and Renner, who some years ago explored the Amazonian jungle not far from Manaus, and nearer still to the rubber plantations which at the end of the last century gave the city its moment of splendor and folly.
Surprised in the jungle by unusually torrential rains, the two Mormon geologists, who were prospecting for copper on behalf of Anaconda Copper Inc., took shelter in the communal hut of a village inhabited by Hanochucos Indians. There, in a pile of ritual objects, they noticed two baked clay tablets approximately one meter in length and covered with strange writing. They questioned the Indians about the meaning of this writing but met with a good deal of reticence. Finally, in return for a number of miraculous Polaroid photographs, they obtained an account of the two tablets.

Many generations ago, they said, a strange plant would appear from time to time among the lubber trees. This plant the Indians called the oldika, and the strange thing was that it was able to dream. Being a plant, the oldika could only dream about plants, but men being men they were able to dream the dream of the oldika. One night an Indian who was working as watchman in a plantation went to sleep beside an oldika and dreamt that he had picked the plant and rolled it along so as to leave an imprint in the light soil. When he awoke the plant was still beside him, perfectly intact, but the earth bore the imprint of the dream. Then the Indian was frightened, and went to the omanashi of the village and told him what had happened. The omanashi went with the Indian to the place, and there was the imprint of the dream, perfectly visible.
" You have dreamed the dream of the oldika," said the old man, "but it was not you who printed it on the earth."
" Who was it then?" asked the Indian.
The omanashi winked. "The oldika is a sleepwalker."

Clearly the autonomous movement of the Solea can only be the fruit of folk imagination. Nevertheless, we are bound to admit that the clay tablets, now in the Natural History Museum in Salt Lake City, do quite definitely bear the imprint of a Solea and go some way to confirm the theory that at one time, before their parallelization, these plants grew in some abundance along the banks of the Amazon. There is no doubt whatever that someone did in fact roll a Solea along in the clay. What remains inexplicable is the fact that if the tablets are held upright the imprint appears convex or concave according to which direction the light is coming from. When lit from above the marks are protuberances in relief, like those of a real Solea, but when the light comes from below they look like ordinary imprints. This phenomenion, now known as oldicasis, has not been satisfactorily explained as yet.
The idea that a plant can dream, as happens in the legends of several ethnic groups in America seems absolutely absurd in the light of our Western logic. But Solinez puts the following question:

" If we admit that the pre-parallel Solea had some form of imagination (unimaginable for us but theoretically possible), even though at subcellular levels where the genetic memories lie in hiding, can we exclude the possibility of its having an active dream life?"7


* This stone, which the Antonll call Ta, is now in the Anthropological Museum of Honolulu. [Author's note.]

1. Max Spinder, Die Solea eine bytanische Unentwicklung(Univerlag, Hemmungen, 1972).

2. Antonio Guerrero, Flora descorhecida do Rio (Editorial Z, Rio de Janeiro, 1872).

3. John Foreman, Flora South of tha Border (Henderson and Co., Boston, 1906).

4. Soleares (GLM, Paris, 1960).

5. Leo Lionni, not to be confused with the author of the present volume, is the pseudonym of Pieter Jacob Grossouwski, a name which the celebrated writer and illustrator abandoned early in his career in favor of one more easily pronounceable.

6. Randolph Reich, Botanical Psychogenesis (Harper & Row, New York, 1973).

7. Angel Pedro Maria Solinez, "Un sueno vegetal" (Vida, March 1973, Editorial de Mayo, Buenos Aires).


THE SIGURYA

Although between the earliest descriptions by Heraclitus (530 b.c.) and the recent reconstruction made by Maanen and Palladino there were only a few sporadic references to the Sigurya, we have today a fairly exhaustive knowledge of this plant, thanks chiefly to the patient research carried out by the Botanical Laboratory of Saragoza.
The name "Sigurya" was given to the plant by the celebrated flamencologist Donado Malguena, brother of the botanist Juan Domingo Malguena, who for many years was head of the Faculty of Biology at Saragoza University, and is still director of the botanical gardens of the city. It was in the Biblioteca Real, so rich in ancient scientific and pseudoscientific works, that Juan Malguena first saw a picture of this plant, at that time completely unknown to him. He had come across a very rare volume, the De Plantarum Mysteriis of Paulus Aversus, a somewhat fantastical herbarium dating from the fifteenth century, and was looking slowly through the pages when one of the great woodcuts by Van Wittens caught his eye. It illustrated a number of monstrous hybrids, half animal and half plant, but also a few plants which appeared oddly plausible. He had no trouble in identifying Laudanies umbrosus, Clariola foliata, and Opercus espinatus, but however much he rummaged in his memory he found no trace of another plant, the one with the small aerial roots and the strange flower-fruit covered with warty knobs, which stood out so clearly against the background. This picture came back to mind the following morning as he was walking down the great palm avenue toward the administration building of the Botanical Gardens.
It was then that Juan Malguena determined to find out all he could about that disconcerting plant that looked so normal and yet clearly belonged to a different realm of botany. It is largely to the work of this elderly Spanish botanist that we owe our knowledge of the Sigurya.
Marcello Vanni, in an article published last year in The Annals of Parallel Botany, tells how he himself received confirmation of the ambiguous morphological character of the Sigurya, the thing that so powerfully struck the imagination of Malguena.

"On the basis of indications provided by my assistant Paola Sanaona, who is responsible for all the visual documentation in my laboratory," he writes, "I had done some rather detailed and particularly convincing pencil drawings of the Sigurya. My intention was to take them to Paris and present them to Juan Malguena, who was to preside over the forthcoming Parallel Botany Conference at the Jardin des Plantes. As soon as I got to the French capital I phoned my old friend to make an appointment, and we decided to meet at the Cafe Flore in Saint-Germam-des-Pres, near where many of the delegates were lodged. When I got there, I found the old scientist with his wife and a number of mutual friends, including the well-known Italian photographer Ugo Mulas. In the course of the conversation it came out that it was Senora Malguena's seventieth birthday. I took the opportunity to present to her the drawings I had brought for her husband.
" Everyone present studied the drawings with care, and during the animated conversation that inevitably followed, Ugo Mulas left the table unnoticed. We only realized he had been absent about ten minutes later when he reappeared with a huge bunch of flowers which he presented to the old lady. There was clapping and cries of "Buen compleano," which a group of young American tourists joined in, singing "Happy Birthday, dear Senora." In the general uproar, Mulas handed me a small package wrapped in tissue paper, looking at me meanwhile with a mysterious air. I opened the package eagerly and could scarcely believe my eyes: it was a dried flower that lay there, or perhaps a fruit, practically identical to that of the Sigurya in my drawings. The photographer explained that when he had seen it at the florist's where he had bought the flowers for Senora Malguena he had been is thunderstruck as I was.
" After the little impromptu party we all went off to the florist's in the hope of finding other specimens of this strange flower-fruit. But the shopkeeper said he had no more of them. When asked the name of the plant he searched for a long time through old brochures and catalogues, but without success.
" Juan Malguena took on the job of finding out what he could at the small library attached to the Jardin des Plantes, and when the conference opened the following day, he handed me a sheet of paper covered with notes. The specimen, the notes said, seemed to be the fruit of Santilana panamensis, one of the family of Felinotenis, a native of Panama that now only survives in a few of the Caribbean islands. The islanders apparently dry the fruits and sell them to dealers as decorative plants. It seemed to be by no means a rare plant, but strangely enough, it was unknown to any of us, botanists and biologists alike. While the flower-cuw-fruit was very like that of the Sigurya, the rest of the plant had really quite different features. The Santilana is a plant with an endinodal stem of medium height, bearing large coriolated leaves. The root is a rhizome that spreads under the ground and produces an average of ten individual plants."

The Greek philosopher Heracltus, founder of the school of Gynos which flourished in the sixth century b.c. and inventor of the strobological theory of language: was the first to give a reasonably detailed description of the Sigurya, which he called Gynopsa. His observations are available to us only in a rather debased Latin translation, completely lacking in his own incisive style.* The translation describes the Sigurya as "a plant with a flower that looks like a head with nothing but noses wearing a skirt like the tasseled ones worn by the vestals of the oracle of Markos." Of the size of the plant the translation says, "It is as tall as my ten-year-old son Demoklitus; a goat would have to stretch its neck to eat the fruit of it."
Heraclitus confuses the fruit with the flower, but gives a surprisingly accurate description of an encounter with the plant. More banal, but certainly clearer, is the description by Maanen and Palladino which accompanies the reconstruction in wood made by the two sculptor-scientists. Maanen and Palladino were already celebrated for the wooden models in the Oosterman Museum in Nymegen. These are vastly magnified models of the most minute details of normal plants, such as the pistil and the chromostene of Colidotima. Particularly well known is their model of a colony of cells of Folia antrax enlarged 1500 times and clearly demonstrating the tendencies of perimetric cells in th? process of directional and selective growth. It was Juan Malguena who aroused their interest in parallel plants, and particularly in the Sigurya to which he himself had devoted so much intense effort. The truly wonderful model of Sigurya barbulata which stands in a glass case in the center of the huge entrance hall of the Botany Laboratory at Saragoza is the work of these two. It has become a kind of touchstone for all descriptions of the plant, even though it has a few features outside the usual run of things.
The model is life-size and reproduces a Sigurya barbulata that had actually been studied and reconstructed by Malguena, who worked in close collaboration with Maanen and Palladino. Visitors to the laboratory are presented with a small brochure containing the following information:

At present we know of six kinds of Sigurya, but over the next few years this number is expected to grow considerably. In order of size these varieties are: S. gigas grandiceps (Big-headed Sigurya); S. montalbana; S. barbulata; S. afro-carpus (Dark-fruited Sigurya); S. murothele (Small-nippled Sigurya); S. minima. Peter Foreman has furnished evidence of an aquatic variety called S. natans, found in Ottogonia.

The Saragoza S. barbulata was the first to be found in the West. (pl. xxxi) As it stands, the plant is sixty-two centimeters tall. Malguena calculated that if one straightened out the curve in the stem which bears the cephalocarpus, the height would increase by seventeen centimeters. The stem is known as the "corpus" and bears some resemblance to the column of the Giraluna, though it is far more slender. It has three rings of aerial roots which Malguena calls barbules and which are superimposed upon each other without any apparent order. They are at most four centimeters in diameter, and are the equivalent of the pendulants of the Giraluna. The corpus is twenty-two centimeters in diameter at the base and three centimeters at the highest point, where it curves downward and holds the cephalocarpus.
This cephalocarpus is the most characteristic feature of the Sigurya. It is a kind of fruit, totally irregular in shape, with protuberances of various lengths sprouting from it all around. There are conflicting theories concerning the nature of the cephalocarpus, which so strongly resembles the fruit of the Santilana panamensis. Malguena refuses to consider it the parallel equivalent of a real fruit, although it has all the appearance of a fruit. While they were working on the reconstruction, his colleagues referred to it as the "head," and this was why Malguena coined the term cephalocarpus. For him, however, the cephalocarpus is the plant itself, the remainder (the corpus) being no more than a much-needed support, like the base of a lamp. His theory receives some measure of confirmation from the existence of two specimens of Sigurya afro-carpus, where the corpus is altogether lacking, and of a S. minima discovered by John Harpers near Opano on Venderas Island. In this latter case there is practically no stem.
Olaf Rasmussen, director of the Parabotanical Research Center at Osloe, disagreed with Malguena's theory in the paper he read to the Copenhagen Conference. According to Rasmussen there is in the whole of botany no fruit or parafruit that is not in some way supported. Even Protorbis minor, he observes, has a base which serves to keep the most expressive part of the plant off the ground. For Rasmussen the specimens mentioned by Malguena are only fragments of broken plants, although the breakage may have occurred either before or after parallelization. In an open letter published in the Bulletin of the Osloe Center, he urges his colleagues in Ghana to go back to the Tamo River where the specimens of Sigurya afrocarpus were found and to search there for the missing stems.
The unfortunate fact is that information from distant countries, especially that regarding plants of the Beta group such as the Sigurya, is nearly always fragmentary and inexact, as well as being at least secondhand. But apart from the meticulously faithful reconstruction made by Malguena and his colleagues, we also have information which has reached us due to the generosity of Ricardo Martlnez, one of the archeologists responsible for the recent excavations near Oaxaca, Mexico, not far from the site of the famous Tomb No. 7 at Monte Alban. In a little book called Homage to Gutierrez, Martinez tells how he discovered a large black clay vessel decorated with Mixtec graffiti and containing old weapons. It stood

PL. XXXI Sigurya barbulata

in the narrow entrance to the underground corridor which he supposed would lead him to the central chamber of Pyramid No. 3 ("la Desnuda"). It was thought at first that the weapons were Mixtec arms of an unknown type, so the discovery created quite a sensation. But closer study soon put things in their proper perspective. Carbon tests showed Martinez that while the vessel was certainly Mixtec the weapons had been inso-ted later, probably to hide them. But what was a disappointment to the archeologist was a triumph for Professor Pedro Gutierrez, the aged honorary director of the School of Botany at Vera Cruz. Suffering from a serious lung condition, he happened to be on holiday at the same hotel, the Marques del Valle, where Martinez was staying. The two scientists had known each other for some years, and in the evening they would meet on the terrace of the hotel, overlooking the tree-lined square. From the art nouveau bandstand in the square a group of mariachos would scare clouds of birds from the trees with each blast of the trumpet, while the Olted boys would play hide-and-seek around the trunks of the huge flowering jacarandas. It was on one of those magical evenings, when the sunset seemed to have already lost the first of its gold-vermilion to the oncoming darkness, that Martinez told Gutierrez of his perplexity about the weapons he had found in "la Desnuda." He invited his friend to visit the site.
The following day Gutierrez went out to Monte Alban, where the archeologist lifted the lid of a huge vessel to show him its disappointing contents. There were fighting machetes, spear blades engraved with stylized symbols, and other metal objects. And on top of the pile, attached to a narrow, worn leather belt, was a bizarre shape vaguely resembling a medieval mace. It was indeed an unusual thing, apparently slightly dusty, and Gutierrez picked it up with the greatest care in spite of his evident excitement. The shape was organic, a little larger than a clenched fist, and completely covered with large knobs and tentacle-like protuberances of various shapes and sizes. These looked like fingers, or small pendulants, and there were about thirty of them. For Gutierrez there was no doubt about it: the shape was that of the cephalocarpus of the Sigurya.
The old botanist's mind was besieged by a swarm of questions. Was it a coincidence? Or a metalized plant? A copy? A fossil? He had no difficulty in persuading his friend to give him the loan of the object, which he took back with him to his room at the Marques del Valle. There, writes Martinez, "Gutierrez remained incommunicado for three days and nights. In the evening of the fourth day he appeared at the bar in time for an aperitif before dinner, sprightly and elegant in his white linen suit. Accompanied by the languorous crooning of a duo engaged for the week by the tourist board of Oaxaca, he there and then confided to me his first intuition about the weird thing among the weapons." He gave Martinez a few pages covered with notes and diagrams, all of which the archeologist reproduced in facsimile to illustrate his booklet. Gutierrez died in Vera Cruz only a few weeks after his return from Oaxaca.
With the Saragoza reconstruction, the account given by Martinez and the notes and diagrams provided by Gutierrez constitute the most complete and scholarly documentation of the Sigurya. There is no longer any doubt that the cephalocarpus at Monte Alban is a complete plant, and is therefore evidence in support of the theory advanced by Malguena. With the plant on the ground, as it is shown in a photo taken by Martinez, the protuberances look rather like stunted pendulants, some of which act like normal roots and attach the plant to the ground, while others look like the arms of a blind man groping desperately in the air for some nonexistent handhold. What neither Gutierrez nor Malguena were able to explain satisfactorily is the metallic nature of the plant. In his notes, Gutierrez speaks of a process similar to that which petrified the trees in the Yosemite National Park in California. This point of view would imply a process aimed at rendering permanent a plant which, being parallel, was permanent in the first place. It would also imply the transformation, by an infinitely slow process of mineralization, of a nonmaterial object existing outside of time. None of this is compatible with the theoretical premises of parallel botany. More plausible is the theory put forward by Van der Haan, according to which the Sigurya of Monte Alban is a concretion formed from the imprint of a real plant. This concretion occurred, according to the theory, in the course of an extremely violent earthquake that caused the greater part of the ancient acropolis to collapse. This earthquake also cracked open the surface of the earth over large areas, allowing the escape of gases and liquids so hot that they were capable of melting the ferrous minerals in which the zone abounds.
The Sigurya of Monte Alban is now on display in the little museum of Oaxaca, together with the precious finds from Tomb No. 7. An enterprising jeweler in Taxco has made a tiny copy of it, and this can be bought as a souvenir in the shops beneath the arcade in the picturesque little square.
Malguena, seizing on the evidence that the Sigurya of Monte Alban was a complete plant, and therefore neither fruit nor flower, carries his theory to its logical conclusions. He declares that the corpus is a deceit, an extreme bit authentic example of paramimesis. The furious debates on the nature of that ambiguous organ, still raging in the botanical world, are perhaps the best possible support for his point of view. After all, paramimesis has no other object than to create doubt and confusion, and to protect a plant that even an excess of zeal or love of science might easily destroy.
Sigurya natans, simply because it is an aquatic plant, does not fit pl. xxxii into the normal categories of parallel botany. Only two specimens are known. The more famous of these is the one described by a certain Jacopo della Barcaccia, who was with Magellan on his last great voyage, in a letter to his wife Dorotea. This priceless document was discovered in Padua by the historian Tschbersky. The other known specimen is the copy in wood made, like the S. barbulata of Saragoza, by the sculptor-scientists Maanen and Palladino.
As regards the S. natans described by Barcaccia, we need only reprint some part of the long letter mentioned above:

In those crystal-clear waters [of a lake on one of the Termadores Islands] there are crabs with antlers like stags and many fishes covered with feathers like birds, and also eels as long as boats whose scales were like golden ducats; and men say they are mortally dangerous. There are also enormous turtles which the men who live on the water mount like horses, and so ride from one island to another. And in the trees there are fisher-birds with beaks as long as swords, that are a wonder to set eyes upon, and others that sing so sweetly that Fra Simone himself would envy them [Fra Simone was a composer and organist at the church of Santa Teresa in Padua].
Also in those waters are strange fruits with fingers, and no man can touch them, for it a touch they dissolve and melt away, and the young men are forbidden to look at them, for they fade from the sight and make themselves invisible. This fruit they call panala, and it filled me with wonder, for it is neither tree nor shrub nor yet a flower, but it floats on the water and the roots hang down from it. It is as black as the ink of a squid, and when darkness creeps over the water all the men and women of the island pray to this fruit as if it were the os sacrum of St. Barnaby himself.

Tschbersky thinks that Barcaccia's descriptions have a lot in common with the more succinct annotations of Pigafetta, Magellan's official historian. He writes: "There is no doubt in my mind that the magic fruit floating in the lake on that island was indeed a Sigurya natans. Many other travelers whc have followed Magellan's route to the Termadores Islands have confirmed Barcaccia's account. The panala was indubitably the ultimate form of a group of plants which one after the other have vanished at the fatal touch of man."
The model carved by Maanen and Palladino is only partly based on the descriptions left us by the travelers of the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries. The information gathered by the missionary Father Beaulant, a keen student of flora who lived for many years among the natives of the Termadores, provided the sculptors with sufficient data for them to complete the work of reconstruction in the greatest detail. This model is also on show at the Botanical Laboratory of Saragoza, and thanks to the inclusion of the aquatic pendulants in a large block of Plexiglas it gives a really convincing feeling of reality. The pendulant, are long and thin compared with those of the Sigurya erecta (this is Malguena's name for the plant with the stem), and in river water they must undulate like the native algae of the stream. The theory that the Sigurya originated in the many little streams that gone down from the mountains and feed the inland lakes of the islands is supported by some of the prayers in which the natives invoke the spirit of the panala to stem the fury of the torrents in spring. Maanen, perhaps following some unofficial statement of Malguena's, suggests that the panala of the Termadores might be the mother of all Siguryas. In common with all the organisms of our planet, the Sigurya would therefore have distant aquatic ancestors, and the S. erecta variety would represent a more recent development, a second phase of parallelization.

PL. XXXII Sigurya natans


* James Fadden has made an attempt at reconstructing the bizarre and almost incomprehensible manner of the lost original text, which is typical of the strobological school and has suggested to Bunoughs and other modern writers the cross-cutting techniques popular in contemporary poetry and fiction.
Here is the breathtaking opening:

"In Tha (beyond) mos (Es-tor) Demoklitus (Theo-the) and I gath-olive-ered Demo (Theo) klitus (the-be) called. Plant (ant-plan)t skirt Mar vest (kos) tal he-(noses noses no) (ses) -ad."


CONTENTS

PART ONE: INTRODUCTION 1
General Introduction 3
Origins 20
Morphology 35

PART TWO: THE PLANTS 57
The Tirillus 59
Tirillus oniricus 62
Tirillus mimeticus 64
Tirillus parasiticus 67
Tirillus odoratus 68
Tirillus silvador 70
The Woodland Tweezers 73
The Tubolara 78
The Camporana 80
The Protorbis 86

The Labirintiana 95
The Artisia 100
The Germinants 112
The Stranglers 117

The Giraluna 119
Giraluna gigas 134
Giraluna minor 1 43
The Solea 145
The Sigurya 162

PART THREE: EPILOGUE 171
The Gift of Thaumas 173
Notes 178

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