Ancient word of the day: Venation

Ancient word of the day: Venation

The ancient word of the Day is venation. This is a delicate and diaphanous pattern of veins appearing on the blade of a leaf.

As Autumn turns the leaves to burnished and bright colours, these delicate patterns have a final fiery display before they decay and fall to the forest floor. The wind crumbles away the leaf litter leaving behind the frail leaf filigree, a ghost echo of summer’s full flush.

Venation may be reticulate, palmate, arcuate in form depending on the structure of the plant and how it grows.

Ancient word of the day: Venation

Learning the Trees by Howard Nemerov

Before you can learn the trees, you have to learn

The language of the trees. That’s done indoors,

Out of a book, which now you think of it

Is one of the transformations of a tree.

The words themselves are a delight to learn,

You might be in a foreign land of terms

Like samara, capsule, drupe, legume and pome,

Where bark is papery, plated, warty or smooth.

But best of all are the words that shape the leaves—

Ancient word of the day: Venation

Orbicular, cordate, cleft and reniform—

And their venation—palmate and parallel—

And tips—acute, truncate, auriculate.

Sufficiently provided, you may now

Go forth to the forests and the shady streets

To see how the chaos of experience

Answers to catalogue and category.

Confusedly. The leaves of a single tree

May differ among themselves more than they do

From other species, so you have to find,

All blandly says the book, “an average leaf.”

Example, the catalpa in the book

Sprays out its leaves in whorls of three

Around the stem; the one in front of you

But rarely does, or somewhat, or almost;

Maybe it’s not catalpa? Dreadful doubt.

Ancient word of the day: Venation

It may be weeks before you see an elm

Fanlike in form, a spruce that pyramids,

A sweetgum spiring up in steeple shape.

Still, pedetemtim as Lucretius says,

Little by little, you do start to learn;

And learn as well, maybe, what language does

And how it does it, cutting across the world

Not always at the joints, competing with

Experience while cooperating with

Experience, and keeping an obstinate

Intransigence, uncanny, of its own.

Ancient word of the day: Venation

Think finally about the secret will

Pretending obedience to Nature, but

Invidiously distinguishing everywhere,

Dividing up the world to conquer it,

And think also how funny knowledge is:

You may succeed in learning many trees

And calling off their names as you go by,

But their comprehensive silence stays the same.

John Bate: The Mysteryes of Nature and Art

Ancient word of the day: Venation

Bi-Focal by William Stafford

As fire burns the leaf

and out of the green appears   

the vein in the center line

and the legend veins under there,

So, the world happens twice—

once what we see it as;

second it legends itself

deep, the way it is.

Published by Content Catnip

Content Catnip is a quirky internet wunderkammer written by an Intergalactic Space Māori named Content Catnip. Join me as I meander through the quirky and curious aspects of history, indigenous spirituality, the natural world, animals, art, storytelling, books, philosophy, travel, Māori culture and loads more.

13 thoughts on “Ancient word of the day: Venation

  1. I found this word online and loved it so much and then I looked up venation on the poetry foundation’s website and some poems came up. Amazing place to look up word associations on there, full of rich word tapestries.


    1. I love this post, there is so much there…thanks for sharing Terry. Thoreau was so evocative in his writing about trees.


    1. I’m so glad you loved this word Kev, I see what you mean by revering and venerable. Those are also two great words now I am curious to find out the origins of these ones too. I hope you and your family are well and now that restrictions have eased over there and it’s summer that you are doing well, take care 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it!! That means so much to me that you think it’s like a meditation, that’s a very cool compliment 🤗😽 Being in nature, noticing the wonder of things up close is so meditative and soothing for the soul 😻


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