BLESSINGS IN BLOOM: Plant Fun in Ordinary Time
Kerry Peetz

BLESSINGS IN BLOOM: Plant Fun in Ordinary Time

By Kerry Peetz

The highly anticipated holy days of Christmas have passed, our homes have been blessed and our sins have been confessed. We are now in the onset of ordinary time.

Ordinary Time counts the weeks between the end of the Christmas season and Ash Wednesday, which starts the season of Lent. With ordinary time comes the beginning of a brand new year — a new year of hopes and dreams and forgiving trespasses — the year of our Lord, 2024.

In our diocese, the beginning of ordinary time usually brings cold weather, slick roads, and heavy coats. Since those of us who like to garden are on forced hiatus this time of year, maybe we can get a little enjoyment from these fun plant facts while we wait. 

Did you know:

• 84% of a raw apple and 96% of a raw cucumber is water.

• In the Netherlands, in 1634, a collector paid 1,000 pounds of cheese, four oxen, eight pigs, 12 sheep, a bed, and a suit of clothes for a single bulb of the Viceroy tulip.

• No species of wild plant produces a flower or blossom that is absolutely black, and so far, none has been developed artificially.

• Trees growing along a road can reduce indoor air pollution of nearby buildings and homes by more than half.

• Quinine, one of the most important drugs known to man, is obtained from the dried bark of an evergreen tree native to South America.

• The rose family of plants, in addition to flowers, gives us apples, pears, plums, cherries, almonds, peaches and apricots.

• Asparagus is a member of the lily family, which also includes onions, leeks, and garlic.

• The bright orange color of carrots means they are an excellent source of Vitamin A, which is important for good eyesight, especially at night. Vitamin A helps fight infection and keeps skin and hair healthy.

• Onions contain a mild antibiotic that fights infections, soothes burns and tames bee stings.

• One bushel of corn will sweeten more than 400 cans of soda.

• There are approximately 250,000 different types of flowering plants in the world. 

• Wheat is the world’s most widely cultivated plant. It is grown on every continent except Antarctica. 

• One ragweed plant can release as many as one billion grains of pollen. 

• Sunflowers have long been used to control weeds in cultivated fields. They produce a natural toxin from their roots that keeps weeds from germinating. 

• The corn cob (ear) is actually part of the corn plant’s flower. There are approximately 600 kernels on each healthy ear of corn.

• Pioneers planted four corn kernels for every plant they hoped to harvest: “One for the maggot, one for the crow, one for the cutworm, and one to grow.” 

• The fear of plants is called Batonophobia.

• Researchers collecting data from 10 cities found that community forests save an average of one life each year. In New York City the average rises to eight.

• A Korean study of 931 office workers reported significantly less stress and more job satisfaction among workers who had a view of trees from their office.

• Global production of apples for 2021/22 was around 81.6 million tons, half of which were produced in China.  The top five apple-producing countries following China are the USA, Turkey, India, Iran, and Russia.

• Only 9% of Americans are eating the recommended two to three servings of vegetables per day, according to a 2015 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

• The most popular vegetables in terms of consumption are potatoes, corn, fresh tomatoes, lettuce, and canned tomatoes used in pizza sauce.

The liturgical color for Ordinary Time is green. Green is meant to symbolize hope and to be a symbol of life. We can celebrate this seasonal color by observing green plants. Our future is green. “A green tree is far more glorious than if it were made of gold and silver” — a true gift from God. (Martin Luther King Jr.)

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