The much-derided ancient ‘wisdom’ that is the Doctrine of Signatures (DoS) has it that God wanted to show Man what plants were medically useful by providing signs in their structure, shape, colour or whatever. Thus plants that bear spines might help treat injuries caused by arrows or spears, or even office staples; plants with leaves that look like body organs are suitable for treating ailments associated with those parts, etc. Far too obvious! I believe that any Creator is more subtle than that – i.e. works in even more mysterious ways than the DoS would have us believe.
How does Mr P. Cuttings arrive at this conclusion? Well, it’s all down to work by Stephen Haggerty * (Florida International University – not Florida State University as previously but erroneously stated – USA), which reveals that Pandanus candelabrum appears to grow uniquely in soil that’s associated with kimberlite deposits, in north-west Liberia. So?
Well, kimberlite is ‘an igneous rock best known for sometimes containing diamonds’ (!!) and occurs as so-called kimberlite pipes. Now, whilst there’s no guarantee that there’s a stash of diamonds and a source of unimaginable riches beneath every candelabra screw-pine (an inverted case of hiding a bushel under a light?), it does help point people in the right direction to start digging (providing they know their plants…).
And, furthermore, if indeed this phytodiamondine association is truly an act of the Divine One, it also suggests that Botanists (or geologists, or geobotanists…) are His/Her favoured creatures amongst the human population**. Diamond-prospecting using plants, a ‘pipe-dream’ come true?
* The work was published in Economic Geology June-July 2015 vol. 110 no. 4 851-856
[One wonders if this is the sort of forward-lookingness by Botanists that a recent Nature Plants Editorial had in mind… – Ed.]