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The Plant August 5, 2008

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

I am not a full-time nurturer. I am not someone who adds living things to my household that demand a lot of attention: children, pets, plants.

I am someone who lives in Vermont with neither garden nor dog. An anomaly.

But a few years ago, for Christmas, Marguerite—the mother of Sewa Yoleme—sent me a plant.

A sago palm. Beautiful little thing: four leaves sprouting out of the top of a shaggy little trunk. Fits on a plant stand. Looks fabulous with my décor, such as it is, and brings a little of the tropics into my home—specifically, into the corner of my bedroom.

It is still alive.

Let me repeat: I have a plant. I have had it for several years. It is still alive.

No, really.

Last year it sprouted a new leaf. The leaves are the type made up of a bunch of their own leaves—you know, like ferns. (Bear with me. This is not a language I speak.) This leaf didn’t look like the original four. It was bigger, and the texture was different. Tim at one point turned the plant away from the sun, and the leaf contorted, twisted back on itself. It stayed that way, like that face your mother told you not to make.

Right after I got back from Portland last month, the plant sprouted three new leaves. These mothers are huge. One sticks straight up, twenty-six inches so far, which, given the height of the plant stand, puts the top of its head almost dead even to mine.

This new growth is kind of creepy. There’s something almost Little Shop of Horrors about it. Perhaps I feel that way because we share sleeping quarters. (Goodnight, Audrey III. Have you been the one waking me in the wee hours?)

Apparently sago palms and pets don’t mix. Wikipedia reports that the plant is toxic to humans and animals, but pets seem to find it yummy. At least half of them who snack on a sago die. You have been warned.

Am I going to actually have to replant this thing? It’s in such a pretty, bonsai-sized planter. They look so good together.

Time will tell. I don’t want to piss it off.

Per requests. Twisty leaf coming straight at you.

Per requests. Twisty leaf coming straight at you.


1. Cedar Waxwing - August 5, 2008

heh – good luck. Given my luck with plants I don’t want to advise. Nor really even comment.

We survived the tornadoes. Actually we missed them. We were safely in drought-ridden Ohio at the time.

2. Bridgett - August 5, 2008

I have no advice either. My houseplants tend to do one of two things: die immediately, or remain the same forever as if they were plastic. It’s weird.

3. Helen - August 6, 2008

It sounds like the plant has taken on a life of its own. Hopefully it won’t want to take any others (yours for instance). Any chance you can post a photo? I love that part about the leaf forever trapped in one of those miserable expressions your mother always told you not to make.

4. damyantig - August 6, 2008

My plants always grow uneven…you know like when I plant two of them, identical sizes in identical pots, and treat them identically, one of them flourishes while the other begins to wither. Go figure.

I am pretty curious to see your plant as well, so maybe post a pic?

5. She She - August 6, 2008

I have a few plants, most of which have been brought home from daycare by the kids in cute little handpainted pots. I start out with the best intentions, but most don’t make it. (I take pride that the children are still alive.)

Good luck, and stay safe. If it starts to speak to you, I’ll expect to see a YouTube video.

6. Craig (Maito Sewa Yoleme) - August 6, 2008

I just read your post to Mom. She loved it.

She is currently unwell—blood pressure dropping precipitously, then spiking; disturbing heart arrhythmias. The doctor is making a house call tomorrow, see if she needs an EKG or a 24-hour blood pressure monitor for a test, etc. During one of the BP drops, she actually said she didn’t think she was going to make it, but I understand that’s what it feels like during those episodes.

So it’s lovely to see that her plant is thriving. May it thrive for the both of them.

7. Mali - August 6, 2008

You sound like me. Cats are easy to look after (well until they get old-age dementia) mostly. Gardens are for sitting/reading/drinking in not getting our hands/feet dirty/backs sore. I have a plant I’ve had for about 20 years. We gave it away in 1990 when we went to Bangkok, and then were handed it back in 1993. It’s still going.

8. Deloney - August 7, 2008

I have two plants but they’re no replacement for a haunted willow tree.

9. indigobunting - August 7, 2008

CW: Glad to hear you survived the tornadoes. Trip sounded like fun.

Helen, Damyanti: Hard to capture, but there’s a photo. Click on it to make it bigger. Hard to see, but that one big clump is the one leaf twisting back on itself.

She She: LOL!

Bridgett: Most of mine die immediately.

Mali: Wow. I am incredibly impressed. And a little frightened of this potential commitment.

Del: I believe you.

Craig: May it thrive for the both of them. I’m thinking of her, and you…

10. damyantig - August 7, 2008

I just realized after seeing the pic that I have seen a sago palm, and it is in my parent’s home….that one is huge though! Maybe yours tired of remaining a bonsai and decided to break out. Has there been any change in the amount of sun and water it has been getting lately?

I seem to remember that ours began as a small eight-leafed palm, and one summer after four years it just put on a growth spurt. Mailing you a picture……

11. indigobunting - August 8, 2008

Damyanti: If my sago wants to be as big as that sago, I am in serious trouble! I don’t think there’s been much change in sun/water (it’s not too too sunny there), but because the plant stand accommodates a watering can, I do water it often.

If it wants to be that big, it will have to migrate to a warmer clime…

12. damyantig - August 8, 2008

Ok, I asked my mum about this and she says, this palm needs less water, really little. They water it twice a week.

13. Mali - August 11, 2008

Love the photo – that plant is so much cooler than the one we just can’t kill.

14. Cedar Waxwing - August 12, 2008

Cool plant.

15. indigobunting - August 18, 2008

While I was away, it unfurled and now stands (on its perch) taller than I do.

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