One of the things that amazed me most when I started studying horticulture was the vast assortment of plants that exists in the world. God wasn’t content to create one type of tree, one sort of shrub, one kind of vine. No! He created thousands upon thousands of different plants.
In general conversation, we usually refer to plants by their genus (maple, holly, pine). Botanically speaking, we refer to plants by their “specific epithet”, i.e. genus and species (in Latin), plus a cultivar if applicable. For example, red maple is Acer rubrum and Winterberry holly is Ilex verticillata. I studied approximately 165 plants each in my Woody ID and Herbaceous ID classes – just enough to know I’ve barely scratched the surface when it comes to being able to identify plants in my part of the world, much less those in other regions! For example, there are approximately 120 different species of maples and at least 400 species of hollies. Cultivars exist for many of these, further expanding the range of color, size and textural possibilities.
I often marvel at the diversity that exists in our beautiful world. Was it the sheer pleasure of creation that led God to design so many different kinds of plants? Maybe so, but I can’t help but believe he also did it to delight us and to turn our hearts toward him. And the joyful abundance he’s lavished upon us doesn’t exist solely in the plant kingdom. If we’ll take the time to truly see, we’ll realize we’re surrounded by gifts, big and small – reasons to be thankful, not only on a day designated for giving thanks, but every day.
“You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” Psalm 118:28-29