The Tramps of Our Flora

  • Jordan Richard Vander Klok


Labelling a plant as "weed" may seem like a simple process, but in actuality defining exactly what a weed is can be difficult. Is it possible to create a Canadian definition of "weeds?" Declaring a plant to be a weed imposes a belief or label on it, and these beliefs and labels are provided to us by our different definitions of nature. The definition of "weeds" is a product of a social construction of nature. The idea of weeds is also an anthropocentric one, as humans decide which plants should belong in nature. In Canada and the Americas weeds also have a deep historical context in their definition. European colonizers of the Americas brought with them new plant species, as well as new ideas and definitions of nature. These new meanings separated humankind from nature, and differed from Aboriginal perspectives that saw humans as living in harmony with nature. Overall, a strictly Canadian definition of weeds was not found. Defining weeds is a process left to the individual instead of the nation. Defining what a weed is depends on each individuals’ own definitions and constructions of nature, and what is perceived to belong in it.