Forever Alone

meme      /mēm/ or MEEM     Noun

1.  An element of a culture or behavior that may be passed from one individual to another by nongenetic means, esp. imitation. 

2.  An image, video, etc. that is passed electronically from one Internet user to another. 


I know you've heard the word "meme" being thrown around more and more.  I know that my daughter mentions it a lot.  

One of the memes I know because of her is the Forever Alone Guy. 

According to my source, Forever Alone Guy is a comic spin-off character from Rage Guy.  However, it later evolved and has generally become synonymous with, what else, being alone.


Forever Alone Guy.  Contributed by Andy_C on

Forever Alone Guy.  Contributed by Andy_C on

Forever Alone Guy reminds me of a plant known as the Encephalartos woodii, commonly known as Wood's Cycad.

The plant is named after John Medley Wood who discovered a clump of seven stems in the Ngoya forest in Zululand, South Africa in 1895.  In 1903, several of the plant's offsets were collected and distributed to botanical gardens for cultivation and propagation.  This continued through the years until 1916 when even the last known stem was collected.  

No other specimen of the E. woodii has been discovered since.  Therefore, it has made the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) having been assessed as EW or extinct in the wild in October 2009.  It has also made Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

Keep in mind that the E. woodii is dioecious, meaning male and female reproductive structures are found in different individual plants.  The specimen J. M. Wood found is male, as are obviously all of its offsets.  Offsets are technically clones so a female offset is impossible. Since no other specimen has been found, let alone a female counterpart, the E. woodii is a plant without a partner.  Expeditions have been taken into the Ngoya forest in the hopes of finding a female E. woodii but to no avail.  Until one of this trips is succesful, the E. woodii is a plant destined to be . . . (say it with me) . . . forever alone. Please someone stop me from crying.

Due to its rarity it is one of the most sought after cycad species in the world, perhaps it can even be considered the "holy grail" of cycad collectors.   Offsets allegedly sell for as much as $20,000 each.  I've also read about a 7 ft. trunk E. woodii that sold for $126,000.  Wow!  Don't believe me?  You can read about it here.

I have long accepted the fact that I will never have my own E. woodii and so even the prospect of seeing an actual specimen was really exciting for me.  This event finally happened during my visit to the Hortus Botanicus in Amsterdam.

*** I have written about the rest of the garden in previous posts: "Lips Tulips" and "A Tour of De Hortus".

Not Forever Alone Plant for the time being as he is accompanied by Plantchaser.

Around the same time that I was enjoying my potted E. woodii, several of my friends were also having their own E. woodii encounter at the Cycad Amphitheatre of the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden  in South Africa.  The next two photographs are courtesy of my long-time friend Dr. Rommel Reyes.

Cycad Amphitheatre, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden.  Photograph by Rommel L. Reyes, MD.  Used with permission.

Encephalartos woodii, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden.  Photograph by Rommel L. Reyes, MD.  Used with permission.

Fantastic isn't it?  I'd love to visit this place in the future.  What I really wish for though is to see the Encephalartos woodii at the Durban Botanic Gardens also in South Africa.  The first three offsets collected are planted here and in fact still alive and growing. 

One of the original stems of Wood's Cycad in the Durban Botanic Gardens.  Photo taken September 2010.  Attribution:  Purves, M.   Used under Creative Commons Attribution - Share Alike 3.0 Unported.

It's hard to grow old alone. My wish is that they find a female E. woodii somewhere out there so Forever Alone Plant can have a wife and start a family and eventually a whole new generation of baby E. woodiis.