Botanical memory: Exploring emotional recollections of native flora in the Southwest of Western Australia
Faculty of Education and Arts
School of Communications and Arts / Centre for Research in Entertainment, Arts, Technology, Education and Communications
This paper examines the nexus of ecology, sensory experience, and emotion through the concept of botanical memory. Building upon theoretical precedents in environmental memory, collective memory, sensory memory, bodily memory, and emotional geography, I describe botanical memory as an important cultural convergence between plants and people. An ethnographic approach to the description of botanical memory draws from transcripts of interviews conducted with amateur botanists and tourists during the spring wildflower seasons of 2009-10 in the Southwest of Western Australia. Visitors from outside the region tend to communicate feelings of celebration and appreciation focused on memories of the beauty of wildflowers. In contrast, local residents engaged in conservation efforts tend to emphasize despair over species and habitat losses witnessed during their lifetimes. The paper concludes by stressing the heterogeneous character of botanical memory as a blend of emotionality, sensuousness, and embodiment. Research into botanical memory provides a promising wellspring for uncovering sense-rich emotional connections to flora.