Howdy! My name is Krista, I am a Horticultural Technician at Greenjeans. I recently escaped the prolonged Edmonton winter for the oppressive heat, beautiful beaches and the delicious curry of Thailand. It was a wonderful experience and chance to appreciate how much I love my job. One of my favourite things about being in Thailand was pointing out to my travel buddy (not a plant person) all the plants I know. Since she was so uninterested I thought I would take this opportunity to share with fellow biophils my observations and discoveries!
One tour we took was to the Tiger Temple. It was a steep 1,300 step (in plus 40 weather) climb up a mountain side. Somehow I managed, and at the top was a spectacular view. Firstly there were huge gold buddha and Ganesh statues overlooking the land below. The sun beat down so hard on this mountain top temple that the tiles burned my shoeless toes and I had to follow the perimeter to remain in the shadows.
My burning feet granted me the view from every direction around this mountain top. One side was impressive wildness, like mountain cliff photos you see on instagram, complete with swooping white birds. On the other side was a different story all together. Small plots of land (most Thai farmers own less than 8 hectares) were checker boarding the land beneath me. From above I couldn’t tell what was being grown but it certainly peaked my interest.
Back on the ground, I realized I recognized what some of these plants were- Ficus! Thailand provides about 40% of the worlds Natural Rubber, derived from the latex dripping from Ficus Trees. The scene of these trees, growing in straight lines with little basins collecting liquid from the tree reminded me of Sugar Bushes in Quebec collecting Maple Syrup. It was a bigger perspective shift for me, as dripping latex is a real annoyance in my industry, not only is it messy and sticky but many people have allergic reactions when it hits their skin. It was nice to be reminded that this sticky white substance was also used in medical gloves, rubber boots, tires and much much more!
Plants eh? Where would we be without them?