I convinced Glen House to to go on a Kozo Expedition with me yesterday. He didn't need much convincing, so after a delicious lunch of biscuits and sorghum-molasses-butter, we packed up a few necessities and headed off in search of Alabama Kozo. First, we went to a patch just down the street from downtown Gordo, practically a small kozo forest. He pointed out the ways to recognize the plant: fuzzy branches near the leaves, leaves that are fuzzy on one side and scratchy on the other, and striations in the bark. It also has a tendency to camouflage itself because the leaves change shape, even on a single tree. The leaves of the Japanese kozo, Broussonetia kazinoki, have very irregular edges with a distinct shape, but this kozo plant, Broussonetia papyrifera, has some leaves with irregular edges, slightly irregular edges, and some that are smooth and rounded.
Hmm, I think I got all of that right. I need to download a copy of Glen's book to double check my facts.
After we got a few different cuttings, we headed off on another expedition to find the marsh mallow plant. Glen heard that this plant can be used to make formation aid, what we usually make from the mucilage of the root of the tororo aoi. He wanted to collect some seeds to grow his own marsh mallows and test out this theory, and I got some seeds as well.
On our way back to the print studio, Glen showed me the oldest kozo tree I'd ever seen:
Back at the studio, I put the kozo cuttings in water and spread out the marsh mallow seeds. These will go back with me to Asheville where I hope they'll grow into a nice little kozo garden.
I got in a few hours of printing in the afternoon, and ended the day with a potluck and artist talk with a fantastic group of book artists and bibliophiles from around this area.