Saturday, October 6, 2012

Southern Style

This weekend the Weedpicker is in Adams County, Ohio. It is as far south as you can go in Ohio before falling into the great river of the same name.  It is the location for many of Flora-Quest's trips, and the home of several of our guides.

Tobacco in flower
While driving across the country side, we saw a plant in flower that I had not seen before: Tobacco!  It was the unusual flower that first caught my eye.  

Tobacco in the field
 Rows and rows of  'baccie (as the locals call it) in the fields.  I believe this is a late crop, as we saw other fields that were already harvested.

Tobacco plant
This is the true tobacco grown for smoking-  Nicotania tobacum.  Gardeners may be more familiar with flowering tobacco, a Nictotina grown for its fragrant night blooming flowers.

The Lewis Farm
The drying process is as fascinating for this Yankee as the growing process.  I know the tobacco is cut  by the whole stock in the field, and transported to hang in drying barns.

Ventilated barn

These wooden barns are often natural wood or painted black.  These ventilators are unique to southern barns, and not something I have ever seen in Mid-Ohio.

A peek in the barn shows the tobacco all hung to dry.  Each stock is 4-5' long.

One of the leaves was laying on the ground.  The fresh leaf had little or no aroma.  I found a small dried out leaf on the ground - and laid it on the large leaf for comparison.

Tobacco: once dried it has a lovely fragrance, and a surprising appeal.  Fortunes have been made on this plant, but I am glad I gave it up years ago.

Botany is often a key player in the economies of communities.  And once upon a time in the South, Tobacco was King.

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