Parallel Botany: The Branch of Flora Linnaeus Overlooked

parallel-botanyDate: Saturday, October 9
Time: 8:00 PM
Admission: $5
Presented by the Hollow Earth Society

Plants are an alien race.

Animals we “get;” be they insects or invertebrates, they eat, they fight, they mate, they die—all in rather recognizable ways. Aside from being somewhat humdrum household companions, a major source of nourishment, and—for some—the agents of aesthetics and spirituality, plants live their own Black Ops clandestine lives. Cutthroat, dangerous, ingenious, plants make their living on the planet in a manner unto themselves.

And those are the ones we’re familiar with.

That smug sense of triumph early botanists felt once Linnaeus laid down his template for plant taxonomy was destined to be severely jolted by the discovery of the first parallel plants, a here-to-fore unknown vegetal kingdom that challenged all acquired knowledge to date. One might say that, of the two botanies, mainstream plants are the prose of the world of flora, parallel plants the poetry.

It was botanist-savant and renowned children’s book author/illustrator Leo Lionni who first coined the phrase “parallel botany”—simultaneously giving a name and a definition to this emergent science. Because of its implications of unassailable “otherness,” the word “parallel” spared scientists the nightmare of seeing their beloved Linnaean system completely invalidated.

Prior to Lionni’s discovery, intrepid bloom-raiders pursued cryptobotany, the protoscience devoted to the search for undiscovered and as yet unclassified, “hidden,” plants. Parallel Botany—the science and the lecture—ventures into the fringe territory of a fringe discipline. It follows the tendrils of the strange into the realm of the nearly unimaginable.

The diverse fields of paleo-, ethno-, and cryptobotany, aesthetics, semiotics, psycholinguistics, parapsychology, and how God must have freelanced for Disney when She/He created the kingdom—the two kingdoms—of plants will be touched on during this compulsively-illustrated exploration.

Ted Enik—perpetrator of last June’s Cutegsam!—has shared a half-dozen NY apartments with umpteen generations of the same purple faux-shamrock plant (Oxsalis regnellii). Phototropic little creature, it crowds round his lamplit drawing table when he works at night (painting silverbells, cockle shells, pretty maids in a row) and gives him telepathic pointers. You can find out more about Ted and his work at

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