I stumbled upon this strange-looking plant growing where I had placed a bird feeder a few weeks ago. I was fascinated by the sharp-pointed thorned leaves as they reminded me of thistles. But this was something I have not seen before. Finally, after hours of research, I got the correct identification. 

Safflower | photo by Alice Mary Herden

The safflower is a member of the thistle family and the ones we commonly see growing wild are: Bristle, Nuttall’s, Sow. 

Even though these are not a Florida native plant, safflowers are grown on farms specifically for its seeds. It has an impressive taproot that can grow in depths of up to ten feet and with a high tolerance for dry-sandy soils, this is a favored seed-producing plant throughout the United States. 

Today, safflower is grown for agricultural uses focusing on three main products: oil, meal, and birdseed, this article isn’t about that. It’s about a research paper I found while searching for more information about safflower.

Noted on Wikipedia- Safflower dates back to the Bronze Age and arrived in the United States (California) from the Mediterranean area for gardens.  

This is about a gentleman who went to great lengths, traveled thousands of miles across many lands to research just one particular plant.

Paulden F. Knowles (b. April 18, 1919, d. February 7, 1990) the father of California Safflower. Knowles played a key role in introducing and developing safflower as a crop within the United States. 

Granted all the terminology used in these research papers is way out of my league, but the idea of his travels filled me with inspiration and gratitude. 

Known as Collection Trips, Knowles traveling route in 1958-1965 was impressive. He traveled from New York to Scotland, to England, to France, to Pakistan, to Iraq, to  Egypt, to Jordan, to Turkey, to Israel, to Morocco, to Spain, to Portugal, and to Switzerland to collect one species of plant.

Read the story here:

When you read the document and look at the pictures. Try to see if you can place yourself there, by putting yourself on that journey with Knowles. The traveling to different counties, how the cultures change right down to the soil, trees and wildlife. Take this even further than a nature photographer. How would you embrace this journey as a photojournalist or conservation photographer? 

Nature photography can go beyond the boundaries. There are many ways to see through the lens, to discover, and explore, and interpret our stories for others to see.   

Thank you to Knowles and other botanists and biologists and those long before them who paved the way on how we illustrate plant biology.

What camera’s were used back in the 1950s

History of the camera – Wikipedia

Categories: Nature Photography

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