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ABOUT / BIO

My name is Spencer Woodard, a northern California native, thirty years old.

This weblog follows my global travels focusing on plants, ethnobotany, agroforestry, agroecology, traditional agriculture & land management systems, general photography, and related news and current events.

I am interested in the history of human relationships with plants and how the ever-changing state of these relationships has affected the ways in which our species interacts with and influences larger ecological systems in our midst.

I derived the word Anthropogen (www.anthropogen.com), the title of this website, from the adjective Anthropogenic, meaning… of, relating to, or resulting from the influence of human beings on natureexamples being, Anthropogenic pollutants, or, Anthropogenic landscapes.

Anthrome (www.anthrome.wordpress.com) refers to an Anthropogenic Biome, which describes the terrestrial biosphere in its contemporary, human-altered form using global ecosystem units defined by global patterns of sustained direct human interaction with ecosystems.

After relocating to Argentina for a year when I was sixteen/seventeen, I have spent at least half of every subsequent year living, working, and traveling throughout Central and South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa, expanding my knowledge and familiarity with useful plants and how diverse species can be incorporated into dense, productive agro-ecosystems for the purposes of land restoration, reforestation, food production, resource renewal, and the preservation/dissemination of local and non-local biodiversity. I currently live in Sonoma with my wife Katerina and daughter Tilia. I hold a self-designed, multi-disciplinary degree in Socio-Ecological Sustainability from Antioch College.

This weblog serves as a database of information related to edible, medicinal and otherwise useful  plant species of the world. I encounter plants, I take photos and absorb information and post some of that information on this website. I post information on a wide range of flora from climates around the world. As mentioned above, I am interested in the history of the relationship between people and plants, I tend to focus most intently on edible and medicinal plants, or plants with other ethnobotanical significance.

Typically, the information I am uploading will reflect plant species I have encountered, either somewhere I have recently visited, or somewhere I am (at the moment of posting). I take all the photos I post, unless otherwise noted. At present I have posted photos/entries from Mexico, North, Central, and South America, East Africa (Kenya), Central West Africa (Gabon), the Balkans, Greece, the UK, Slovenia, Switzerland and elsewhere in Europe, Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand and a number of other regions of the world.

In addition to content related to plant identification and information I upload relevant articles, links, and other related miscellany .

Apart from collecting, cultivating and planting edible, medicinal, and otherwise useful plants, my interest in complex agroforestry drives a continuous motivation and dedication to studying traditional pre-Colombian land management and resource renewal systems and models. Such systems have proven far more logical, productive and historically sustainable then the modern European colonial agricultural model.

The Flora category in the site consists of an evolving expanding list of plant species accompanied by related discussion and photos.

I welcome readers to contribute to any article in any Category via the comment forum attached to the article. Upon receiving edit marks, criticism or additional information I will make any due corrections or updates. To facilitate your navigation of past posts I have included an Index page (species list). Some species listed therein are linked to their respective entry. Those species that are not yet linked can be plugged into the search bar. You can search by plant family, genus, species, common name, geographical region of origin, or use. There are many more species featured in the site archives that are not yet listed in the index. The index is due for an update.

I can be contacted through the comment forum on this website or at “spencer (dot) woodard (@) gmail (dot) com” …

71 Comments leave one →
  1. June 28, 2008 10:08:39 pm

    I was wondering if I could pick your brain and help me ID a few plants I photogaphed in Boquete. I work in the hort field in St. Pete, FL, but I was born and raised in Panama. Is there a way I could send you some pictures? Its not for an urgent reason, just curiosity. I’m all for your vision too dude, great website!

    • August 14, 2014 10:08:38 pm

      Sorry, I just saw this comment. Sure, I’d be happy to take a look at any plant photos you took and offer my ID suggestions.

  2. Mary permalink
    October 13, 2008 10:08:27 pm

    Dear Spencer,

    I live in Panama City and wish to publish a booklet on the medicinal, edible use of locally available trees / large shrubs, large vines and plants also. Contact me as I would like to discuss collaboration with you please.

    I can be reached at the email.

  3. January 19, 2009 10:08:50 am

    Just thought you’d want to know about our new addition to the plant family.

    Christina and Craig

    http://seattle.craigslist.org/see/act/998497870.html

  4. February 5, 2009 10:08:55 am

    Hello Spencer!

    Thanks for visiting my blog Midoria. Allow me to link to your blog because I’m sure it will be a great reference for me and others. The photos you posted are great by the way…

  5. February 16, 2009 10:08:39 pm

    Hello Spencer,
    My name is Sandra Ramirez and I teach art at Colegio Isaac Rabin, located in Clayton, City of Knowledge, Panama.
    I work in an interdisciplinary team with the science and social studies’ teachers, and we are exploring with a group of 7th graders the possibilities of edible gardens in the Clayton area, specifically in our school.
    We have found your name and work through articles written in local papers about your project in Casco Viejo.

    Are you in Panama at the moment? We would like to know if you are available and interested in sharing information and experiences with us. Right now we are planning the project so your input is welcome.

    Thanks so much!
    Sandra Ramirez

  6. Maria Isabel Henao Vélez permalink
    June 8, 2009 10:08:56 pm

    Hello Spencer! I´m a journalist and Environmental Specialist. I want to know where can I read about your “jardines urbanos comestibles” in Panama City. Or if I can talk with you about a similar proyect in Bogotá Colombia.Can you share some information with me? I´d would like to make you an interview because I think your work is a very good topic for a documentary.
    Hope you can answer,
    thanks a lot
    Maria Isabel

  7. Harold Valdés permalink
    September 8, 2009 10:08:10 pm

    Saludos..Mi nombre es Harold Valdés Me gustaria contactar al Sr. Spencer Woodart.
    He inicido un vivero comunitario en San Juan de Dios, Antón,Tenemos poca experiencia, pero tenemos muchos deceos de aprender, la idea es lograr que las personas desarrollen un amor por la naturaleza y la vez logren beneficios de la agroforesteria. saludos

  8. February 19, 2010 10:08:55 am

    Dear Spencer,
    Congratulations for your beautiful page!
    I grow very rare fruit & plant species in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and invite you to visit our webpage (www.e-jardim.com) and blog (http://e-jardim.blogspot.com).
    I’m currently studying Myrciaria vexator, and learned that McVaugh examined a tree of this species in Summit Gardens, Panama City. Do you know if this tree still exists? I have seen several pics of M. vexator in your webpage.
    Best regards,
    Edward

    • February 19, 2010 10:08:40 am

      Edward,

      Thanks for visiting the site. I’ll definitely take a look at your webpage and blog.

      As a matter of fact, all of the M. vexator in my collection come from the only two remaining trees at Summit. I know of no other bearing trees in this area of Central America. I collect seed from the two Summit trees every year. It seems to bear heavily every other year. This past season was very productive. The photographs of M. vexator on my blog are all of the Summit trees and trees I have grown from their seed. One of the trees appears to be very healthy, the other not quite as much.

      I have visited Summit innumerable times. Their botanical collection is relatively unappreciated and semi-abandoned. No one has planted any trees there for probably 50 years. Unfortunately, the main focus of Summit are the caged animals, which are kept in dark, dirty, utterly abysmal confines.

      Over the past seven years I have scoured the entire park and found some very interesting species. I have propagated nearly everything of note in their collection.

      I would be very interested to read any of the information you have gathered on M. vexator.

      Thanks for writing.

      Spencer

  9. March 4, 2010 10:08:15 pm

    Dear Spencer,

    Only today I came across your exceedingly interesting message. Thank you very much!!!

    I would like very much to receive an e-mail from you, so that we can communicate quickier. Also I would like to send you, through e-mail, detailed information I gathered on Myrciaria vexator.

    I also would appreciate your comments on other notable trees from Summit Garden.

    All the best,
    Edward

  10. Brandon Valentine permalink
    March 25, 2010 10:08:56 am

    Hey Spencer,
    I was wondering out of the 135 species (you probably have many more currently) how many were collected from Summit? Thank You-Brandon

    • March 25, 2010 10:08:14 pm

      Brandon,

      That’s an interesting question. I’m not sure exactly how many species I have propagated from Summit, but I’ve definitely propagated the majority the significant species in their collection, somewhere in the vicinity of 30-40 different trees, and some shrubs.

      There are quite a few species from summit, and elsewhere that I haven’t uploaded onto the species list on this site. I am overdue for an update.

      Are you familiar with Summit gardens? I have visited probably hundreds of times and have grown quite fond of their semi-abandoned botanical collection, which I visit season after season to observe and collect seed from. I think the park has huge potential to expand and diversify, however, it seems management has dedicated the past few years of funding towards buying more gumball and candy machines and trashcans.

      Anyways, I’d be happy to answer any other questions you may have.

      Thanks for visiting the site,

      Spencer

      • Brandon Valentine permalink
        April 10, 2010 10:08:42 am

        Hey Spencer,
        I noticed that you had done some Edible Landscape classes at a school here in Clayton, great job. I hope that the school as well as the students take advantage of the resources that you have given them.

        I have seen pictures of the vivieros that you are helping put together in Casco Viejo. I was wondering if plants and seeds are also for sale at the vivero or is the vivero more of a testing ground for the various species that you have there. I would be interested in purchasing some of the plants or seeds.

        Thanks
        Brandon

        • April 10, 2010 10:08:14 pm

          Primarily the vivero is a testing ground, and to grow custom orders of trees for specific projects. I have some stuff that I would be willing to sell. But weather or not I sell trees depends on where the person I am selling to is planning on planting the trees. Shoot me an email to spencer.wodard@gmail.com and we can discuss. You live in Panama?

          • Brandon Valetnine permalink
            April 11, 2010 10:08:44 pm

            Hey Spencer,
            I live in Clayton, Panama City. Thanks for your quick response. I tried the email address that you gave me and I couldn’t get the message to send. Do you have an alternate address. Here is my email address brandonlloydvalentine@gmail.com

            Thanks-Brandon

  11. Owen McPeake permalink
    September 13, 2010 10:08:28 am

    Hey Spencer,
    I just saw Paul Zink yesterday and we spent a lovely evening carousing around the gardens at Dumbarton Oaks in Dc. He put me on to your blog here and it looks wonderful. Congratulations on having such interesting work.

  12. September 26, 2010 10:08:56 pm

    Will you be back in Casco anytime soon?

  13. December 18, 2010 10:08:12 pm

    Hello Spencer,

    You have a very interesting website, I’ll be reading a lot more on the site :)

    Your iboga article got my attention, I would like to post it on our website, http://www.ibogafoundation.com. The foundation is about creating awareness, your article does it!

    Please let me know, how you feel about this!

    Kind regards,

    Daphne

  14. Dr.Kesari permalink
    February 11, 2011 10:08:26 am

    Hey Spencer,

    Iam a Researcher working in Ethiopia in Hararge region is an Indian and impressed by the collection of your plant species.

    Thank you

    • October 15, 2011 10:08:15 am

      Dr. Kesari,

      Thank you for visiting the site, please come back, and let me know if there is any subject/species you would like to find there that I have not included. What type of research are you working on in Ethiopia? Sounds interesting.

  15. antonino m britto permalink
    February 23, 2011 10:08:03 am

    I ´m looking for seeds of myrciaria vexator to buy. Do you know who can sell ?

    ANTONINO

    • February 23, 2011 10:08:05 am

      I’m not aware of any commercial sources, although I can send you a link to a private collector who might be able to help you.

      • antonino m britto permalink
        April 3, 2011 10:08:38 pm

        I´d be glad getting it. Thanks

  16. peterminhle permalink
    April 9, 2011 10:08:23 am

    Hello Spencer,

    I’m Minh Peter from Vinh Hy, Viet Nam. Nice photos in Vietnam.

  17. October 14, 2011 10:08:34 am

    Hi Spencer,

    I hope you’re having an awesome week! I thought you might like this infographic I helped build about the health, mental, and financial benefits of gardening (http://blog.lochnesswatergardens.com/how-gardening-benefit/).

    If you think your readers would like it too, please feel free to use it on the Anthropogen website. There’s code at the bottom of our post that makes it super easy to post on your blog. It’s all free (of course). If you have any questions about posting it, let me know and I’ll try to help.

    Thanks!

    ~ Janey
    janealvarado83@gmail.com

  18. December 9, 2011 10:08:08 am

    Nice blog! I have added it to my reading list, and put a link on my blog Plants as Medicine at http://www.sourcepointherbs.com. We have very similar interests, you and I. Although I focus on medicinal plants, any interaction between plants and people is of interest to me.

    • December 11, 2011 10:08:51 pm

      Thanks for visiting the site. I’ll definitely check out yours, sounds interesting.

      Spencer

  19. December 14, 2011 10:08:13 am

    very interesting blog! I’m a very very new orchid gardener, but have been gardening flowers /cacti/veggies for decades. I look forward to reading your posts.

  20. Robin permalink
    January 28, 2012 10:08:54 pm

    Hi Spencer, i see we’re on the same vibe… Let’s work together in Gabon!

    • February 10, 2012 10:08:48 pm

      Yes, right on. I’m glad you visited my website. I look forward to working together. I hope all is well with you. See you soon.

  21. February 27, 2012 10:08:27 am

    Great Blog! thank you!

    • February 27, 2012 10:08:46 am

      Why thank you for the kind words. And thanks for visiting, I’ll drop onto your blog during my next internet foray….

      Spencer

  22. earthbonne permalink
    March 26, 2012 10:08:27 am

    Spencer, your blog is so interesting. My favorite part is that you are so organized. As someone who obsessively names plant families where ever I go (I really have no control over this anymore…), I really appreciate your growing list! Do you have this same illness? Maybe you know of a plant to treat this ;)

    • March 26, 2012 10:08:41 pm

      Thank you very much for visiting the site. I’m glad you’re finding it interesting and organized. I’ve always considered it somewhat disorganized but strive to improve upon that. When I first started posting plant photos and their IDs (800 some odd posts ago), I wasn’t very familiar with the WordPress interface and the possibilities of organizing, linking, pages, categories, etc. If i were to do it over again from the start I’d begin with different approach to organization. The species lists I have now are not up to date, I should be more diligent about that. What I would like to do is have a set of indices so visitors could search the site according to common name, scientific name, plant family, genus, species, fruit, nut, medicinal, or according to geographic region. My basic objective is to make the site user friendly for a wide range of people with varying levels of familiarity/knowledge with plants.

      As of now, the search bar is pretty useful. I’m not sure how much people use it. But you can type in “Sapotaceae” or “medicinal” and search the archives according to tags and titles of posts.

  23. Matthew Carson permalink
    April 24, 2012 10:08:02 pm

    Hey Spencer, Matt Carson here. Why don’t you just become an astronaut?

    • April 25, 2012 10:08:15 am

      Mr. Carson,

      I considered space exploration, but then I discovered the intriguing field of psychonautics and have been vigorously transcending the space-time continuum ever since.

      Your friend,
      Spencer

  24. A.frentzos permalink
    May 10, 2012 10:08:00 pm

    I did not know you had a site!!!!

  25. Jesse Blenn permalink
    June 1, 2012 10:08:59 am

    Costa Rica Pre-Colombian fruits…..

    Hi Spencer. I have about 160 fruits species on my farm in Costa Rica (400 meters altitude, about 4 meters rainfall). There was a lot of natives living on my farm several hundred years ago as evidenced by lots of broken pottery, graves, and many “mysterious” grinding stones laying around which I think are the remains of a gold ore grinding operation. Anyway, I am always trying the local wild fruits and have found the following. I was wondering if you might be interested in trading seeds? I don´t know the scientific names so invented my own names.. None of the locals knew that these are edible.

    Giant potato bean is a large legume climber in the forest (up to several inches diameter) with pods with beans the size of potatoes. It probably climbs to the top of the forest. The taste (boiled) is like 3/4 potato and 1/4 bean. I have one vine planted on a dead mango tree and after 4 years it is now about 1 1/2 inch diameter and has lots of clusters of pretty purple flowers, so I assume that it will produce.

    Potato chip nut. A tall tree with three-pointed leaves that has large crops of chestnut sized seeds that roasted are the closest thing to potato chips I have ever seen on a plant. Evidently they have enough oil to give the right taste and texture. I found the mother tree high up near a waterfall (mine were from some dropped by birds or bats) and can get fresh seed later this year. This could be a major crop if domesticated, and surely the natives knew about it.

    Apricot gourd vine. A slow-growing vine (3 years old and maybe 8 feet high) that has fuits in round gourd-like shells with a sligthtly mealy soft orange pulp around the seeds. The tast is pretty much apricot.

    Giant M&M vine. This is some kind of squash relative with inedible fruits that split in three when ripe revealing three big seeds about 1 1/2 inch diameter and flattened with the shape of m&m candies. they have a shell on them. Boiled they taste almost identical to the seeds of the chayote vine. Also a slow grower!

    Johel vine. This one has a nice translucent pulp around the seeds which are in a lumpy fruti the size and shape (pardon me but this is the best description) of a piece of large dog manure. The outside turns nice yellow when ripe and the shell protects the fruit inside.

    And this one is NOT rare but is underused. The Guapinol was a major food of the natives and is very nutricious. It should be planted more. I hope to cross it with my sugar tamarind tress and get a sweet and nutricous delight!

    Anyway, if intersted keep in touch, I can get at least the potato bean and the potato chip nut later this year….

    jesseblenn@gmail.com

  26. June 1, 2012 10:08:07 am

    Jesse,

    Thanks for the comment. Is there any way you could take photos of the plants/leaf/fruit/flower (any or all) that you have mentioned above? I may be able to help you identify them. The one you describe as “apricot vine” sounds like a species of Strychnos. Here’s a link to two species I have encountered. The one from Panama is a vine. Despite what I wrote in the entry, I have since read that the fruit can be edible. The seeds however can be incredibly poisonous, used in curare by S. American indigenous peoples. Anyways, that may or may not be the vine you have. Let me know if you can send photos and I’ll help you ID. You can send them to spencer.woodard@gmail.com

  27. June 15, 2012 10:08:08 am

    Hi Spencer, my name is Abby and I live in rural Morelos, Mexico. I am writing a series of the about the food and medicinal plants we forage in the area. I happened on your blog searching bonetes. I am now a follower. paz, Abby

  28. James permalink
    September 17, 2012 10:08:27 am

    Hi,

    i grow a suposed T. iboga (round pod) for 6 years, but now looking your photos, the plant/flower looks the same, but the round fruit looks a little different than your round pod pictures.. mine is not “pointed” at the end like your photos…

    Is all round pod fruits you saw in Gabon “pointed” like the one of your pictures?
    Is possible i send you some pictures of my plants, pods/fruits, etc, so you can try identify it?

    I have around 50 plants (this suposed to be iboga) growing here…

    All the best
    James

    • September 17, 2012 10:08:31 am

      James, yes please feel free to send me photos and I’ll try to verify the ID. There are many varieties of iboga, leaf and fruit shape. I’d be interested to see what you have. Spencer.woodard@gmail.com

      Regards,

      Spencer

  29. October 1, 2012 10:08:09 pm

    Great blog. So where in Argentina did you live? I love BA. Beautiful City.

    • October 1, 2012 10:08:53 pm

      Seth, thanks for visiting. And likewise, a very interesting site you have, was checking it out earlier today… In Argentina I spent most of my time living in Jujuy and Tucuman, but also have spent time in Salta, Mendoza, Santiago del Estero, and BA, and visited a few other provinces to a lesser extent. Its a fantastic country, on my list of places I could see myself settling down for the long haul.

  30. November 9, 2012 10:08:31 pm

    Spencer – I would like permission to use one of your photos. Could you get in touch, please?

  31. December 5, 2012 10:08:15 pm

    Hi Spencer, I have a question about a comment you left on another site, on Panamanian slang expressions. Can you drop me a line? Thanks! Matt

  32. detourmatt permalink
    December 5, 2012 10:08:16 pm

    Oh – and my email is my first name at godetour.com. Thanks.

  33. February 6, 2013 10:08:03 am

    Hi Spencer

    Just thought I’d let you know that I’d like to link from my blog to yours, as I look at interactions between species generally, but primarily human-animal interactions as my field is anthrozoology. Hope that’s OK!

  34. February 9, 2013 10:08:25 am

    Interesting blog. Do you have any experience with methodologies such as

    https://matasnativas.wordpress.com/2009/06/24/multiple-use-forests/ ?

  35. James Collector permalink
    February 25, 2013 10:08:41 pm

    Hi Spencer,

    My name is James Collector. My father is friends with yours and, discovering that we both live in the Bay area, they suggested we meet. The focus of your blog is closely related to my own research (permaculture and sustainable community practices), so I think we have much to discuss. Can we arrange a meeting? – James

  36. Erwin permalink
    April 28, 2013 10:08:35 pm

    Hi,
    Nice site !
    I’m making a garden here in Bocas del Toro for plants with special “souls”.
    Doing sjamanism and visiting other places with the mind like remote vieuwing.
    If you are in the area I like to invite you to stay with us so I can pick your brain about plants.

    Tx

    Erwin

    • April 29, 2013 10:08:28 am

      I lived on a piece of property in the Bocas archipelago on and off for 6 years.

  37. April 30, 2013 10:08:12 am

    Hey Spencer, thanks for stopping by to check out my blog, and the follow. It is much appreciated. Looking forward to seeing more from you, :-)

    • May 10, 2013 10:08:16 pm

      Ed, thanks for visiting. I’ll be sure to drop in on your site periodically.

      – Spencer

  38. May 4, 2013 10:08:31 pm

    Bless you for the work you do here~

  39. thewhistlingkite permalink
    May 10, 2013 10:08:12 pm

    Hi Spencer. I am a botanist from Australia. I am really enjoying your blog. I am in the process of establishing my site and will soon be loading posts on places to visit in Australia. You may enjoy reading these and seeing some photos. Maybe not all my blog will interest you though as I post recipes and have a couple of other series too related to being a mother and living more naturally. Thank you for sharing your wonderful photos and information. Fantastic. Yours is my favourite blog so far!

    • May 10, 2013 10:08:13 pm

      Thank you very much for the kind words and for taking some time to explore my site. Please let me know if you have any questions regarding the archives. My species index isn’t as up to date as it could be. I think the best bet for navigating through archives and topics of interest is by way of the search bar, searching for “fruit”, “medicinal”, “nuts”, “agroforestry”, “ecology”. “mexico” and so on. Please let me know if you have any suggestions as to how I might better organize to improve user-friendliness / navigability.

      I will definitely take a look at your blog. Just started following.

  40. May 16, 2013 10:08:30 pm

    Hi Spencer,
    First of all congratulations on a wonderful site. Very nicely done with very good information.
    May I ask for something irrelevant? How did you get the triple add unit on your site. Did you apply for it? Thank you and keep up the good work.

    • May 16, 2013 10:08:33 pm

      eMORFES,

      Thanks for visiting my site and for the kind words. Likewise, I enjoy your site as well, great content, always interesting.

      As for the ads, WordPress sent me a message when they initiated WordAds, asking if I would be interested in featuring ads / monetizing the blog. I’m not sure how the the ad layout is determined. I can turn the ads on and of via “Tools” sidebar in Dashboard. Your site seems to have a similar ad configuration, no?

      I hope this helps answer your question…

    • May 16, 2013 10:08:40 pm

      eMORFES, correction, I meant “Settings” not “Tools” in Dashboard.

  41. Thomas Lien permalink
    November 26, 2013 10:08:32 am

    Hi Spencer! May God Bless You! Great Works!

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