here is an excerpt from “More Than Dust,” the book i’m writing. enjoy!
Timote and I traveled to Jamaica, our trip funded by a grant to discover a feared-extinct medicinal plant that researchers desperately needed, for a possible cancer-killing alkaloid they’d isolated from an old specimen, in a lab. Tim and I arrived in the blue-green island and drove to a mountainous region, a tiny hamlet called Bamboo. From there we made day trips all over the region, scouring the land around the site of the last known sighting of Brunfelsia Americana. In the 40s specimens had been collected from there, and none from any other location on earth ever since. Because of botanical information-gathering sources, called herbariums, dried and pickled specimens of every plant gathered by botanists are available for research, and that is how the cancer-experts discovered a near-magical ingredient found only in this particular species, that Tim and I were now hunting for.
Extreme strip mining, for the mineral bauxite, had changed the lay of the land in that part of Jamaica, drastically affecting the natural plantings. Still, Timote was not discouraged, because as we talked to native people we found that some old-timers remembered seeing the plant, called by various local, patois names. After a week of bush whacking our way through one red-herring lead after the next, we climbed an isolated plateau of land we were directed to, in a hidden valley, of sorts, a place where one small bit of land rose above the desolation below like a living altar, which had miraculously survived decades of destructive bulldozing by bauxite miners. We were elated to find one lone stand of this rare species of yesterday, today, and tomorrow, brunfelsia’s common name, and even more thrilled to find seeds and seedlings among the shriveled, deformed, last remaining group, anywhere, of this precious plant.
Live and love and laugh a lot, today and everyday,
your pal, lordflea