Human Flower Project
Get Back—Flowers of India
Tabish Qureshi and friends have set out to identify all the flora of the Indian subcontinent, and you can help.
Polianthes tuberosa in Manipur, India
Also known as Mexican tuberose, Rajanigandha (Hindi, Manipuri, Bangla), and Gulshabbo (Urdu)
Photo: Tabish Qureshi
In today’s e-mail, a gift from the other side of the Earth: Flowers of India.
Tabish Qureshi writes, “The site, meant for flower lovers, is aimed at having the local names, pictures and descriptions of all the flowers found in India” —a human flower project of the first order.
Tabish has worked with psychologist and flower enthusiast Thingnam Girija, a couple of fellow physicists and a botanist to collect photographs from across the country, as well as detailed botanical, historical and practical information about each plant. The site is organized for several kinds of searching (including by color), and generously recommends books and even opensource software to start your own website.
One especially inviting feature for you eager botanists is a rotating photo gallery of flowers yet to be identified. Like this beauty:
With clear-eyes, Tabish has articulated the impulse behind his effort, and our own:
“There was a time, when a lot of people knew about a lot of flowers. But for the city bred individual, flowers are only like pretty pictures. The pace of city life tends to alienate the individual from mother nature, which brought him into existence in the first place…. This is meant to be a place you can look at if you saw a flower and wanted to know more about it. Knowing more about flowers, and then going out and having a look at them, will be more like communing with nature.”
“Knowing” flowers—and related activities, like photographing them, protecting them, dedicating weblogs to them— does seem to be our lot, if not communion itself, then “more like communing with nature.” We’re not at all sure that people in earlier times and more rural places “knew” more about flowers, but they certainly lived among them in ways we don’t and perhaps can’t ever again. That sense of loss, what some would call Romanticism, is propelling our human flower projects forward (or is it backward?).