The Human Sole–Plant Connection Help
Introduction to The Human Sole–Plant Connection
The word plant literally means “a sprout.” It comes from the Ancient Latin term planta, which also translates to mean “sole of the foot”! Quite fascinating is the connection to another term plantigrade ( PLAN -tuh- grade ) – “walking” (-grade) on the “sole of the foot” (planti). Human beings, bears, and raccoons are all mammals that share the common trait of being plantigrade. Specifically, these mammals all walk with the entire sole of each foot firmly “planted” upon the ground! It seems likely that the early Greek botanists ( BAHT -uh- nists ), or “those who specialize in” (-ists) “plants” (botan), were the ones who made this connection. Thus, we have humans who walk in a plantigrade manner, sole of the feet placed flat upon the ground. And from this same ground, up sprout the green plants!
This close anatomic and naming connection between the sole of the human foot and the plants springing up from the ground has also been extended to the names of some individual plants. Consider, for instance, the plant genus called plantain ( PLAN -tun). As Figure 9.1 shows, the common or broad-leaved plantain is a low-lying weed with large, light-green leaves growing from its base. Often invading lawns, the common plantain gets its name from the shape of its leaves, which are flat and broad like the sole of a human foot! One can say, then, that the flat leaves of the plantain have a very plantar ( PLAN -ter) or “sole of the foot-like” appearance. These leaves can be crushed underfoot by a walking human, as well as eaten by them (blanched and sautéed in butter and garlic).
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