Swearing at plants: A flash ethnography from Namaqualand
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In November 2018 we are at Willem’s veepos (stockpost) halfway between Paulshoek and Leliefontein in the Kamiesberg mountains. It is early summer and the scarlet red milkweed locusts (Phymateus morbilossus) have begun to feast on the remaining green vegetation. The melkbos (Asclepias fruticosa) covers the field where we are conducting our interview. This plant is one of the favourite foods of the locusts and the milkweed’s poisonous chemicals help the locust synthesise a noxious liquid that it shoots out at possible attackers. The glands from which this fluid issues are in the rear of the animals and locals call it Jan-pister (Jan the pisser).