This wasn’t the topic that I wanted to use to kick off the subject of plant costumes, but when plants make the national news, I really feel compelled to write about it. In a most unfortunate case of mistaken identity, a drug task force in Georgia raided a farmer’s property only to find okra. It seems that a helicopter fly-over mistook his okra for Cannabis plants. This information was used as the basis for a raid by law enforcement.
Upon realizing that it had dispatched officers to confiscate a popular gumbo ingredient, the Georgia State Patrol, which operates the task force, issued an apology, both to Perry and publicly.
The farmer did not appreciate being confronted at gunpoint over his choice of garden plants. However, common sense prevailed without any damage to humans or property (botanical or otherwise). As part of the news article on CNN.com, the following graphic was used and now ranks among my favorite captions of all time.
Indeed. Pop culture has led me to believe the above plant is more suitable for dessert recipes. The corollary is probably also true- don’t try to smoke okra.
The reason for the mix-up lies in the following statement:
“It did have quite a number of characteristics that were similar to a cannabis plant,” Georgia State Patrol Capt. Kermit Stokes told WSB.
Really?!? Well, they are both green and have leaves and can grow to quite tall. Generally, the leaves of the two plants look nothing alike. Okra plants have broad leaves with 5-7 lobes on them, while Cannabis leaves are compounds leaves with 7-13 thin serrated leaflets each.
So, there could be some overlapping features in terms of leaf shape. But the flowers are completely different and okra produces distinct fruit pods.
It seems that law enforcement groups could benefit from remedial botany classes.
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