Wilfried Hou Je Bek, author of the Cryptoforestry blog, has a nice article in the first issue of new journal The State on his particular topic of expertise, defining cryptoforestry, describing the place of cryptoforests within cities, and discussing the pleasure to be found in seeking out and treking through cryptoforests — a pleasure which is peculiarly both global and local:
It is often said that the most lasting effect of globalization won’t be economic, but biological. As Alfred W. Crosby stated in his 1986 book ‘Ecological Imperialism,’ the European expansion has closed the seams of Pangea; ecosystems that had been isolated for millions of years have been connected again, and the result is a massive ecological disturbance as species leave their original habitats. What does it then mean to see a milk thistle, an evening primrose and a hollyhock growing side by side on a sandy field somewhere behind a fence in a small town in the Netherlands?
The thistle was a Roman potherb kept for its nutritional and medicinal qualities. The evening primrose is a plant that originates from central America, which spread and retreated across the continent with the coming and waning of several ice ages. Its roots were once the staple crops of tribal people across the Northern American hemisphere. The hollyhock originates from Turkey, and travelled to Europe and China along the silk route. Plants have stories, and the story never ends. The hollyhock can be purchased at the local plant market (three saplings will set you back ten euro), but it is also a persistent and prolific weed that grows through cracks between the walls of houses and the street. Two types of evening primrose have hybridized into a new species that is unique to the Netherlands and Belgium. Together, these plants evoke the consequences of centuries of travel, trade, colonization, opportunity, plunder, subsistence and also of the joy of natural beauty.