Asking questions we never answer

When we promise something in a headline, a lede or a graphic, we should deliver.

In this case, the answer was so generic it was all but useless.

The site we cite (how’s that for alliteration of homophones?) isn’t particularly forthcoming, but had we done a little more digging we could have fleshed out the details.

For instance, twistedherbs.com lists the ingredients of K2 (sort of), but does so with scientific names that apparently chased us away.

Granted, names like Canavalia rosea, Clematis vitalba, Nelumbo nucifera and Pedicularis grandifolia don’t exactly beg for action verbs, but a little digging provides some illumination.

For instance, Canavalia rosea is more commonly known as Baybean and is a fast-growing, flowering vinelike plant that is used as ground cover in many arid countries. (www.backyardnature.net/yucatan/baybean.htm)

Some sites sell Baybean powder on its own and tap dance around its use as a psychotropic, giving alluring histories that claim its use can be traced back two millennia. One of my favorite obfuscations comes from a site that spins such a tale and then says: “Our Baybean Foliage is sold for legitimate ethnobotanical research purposes only and is not intended for human consumption!”

Of course. But back to our research.

Plug the other names into the Agriculture Department’s plant site (http://plants.usda.gov/), and those mind-numbing scientific descriptions begin to take shape. Combine that with a little additional background, and here’s what we might have done:

K2 is made up of plants like Baybean (a flowering vine that produces a legume), Clematis vitalba (commonly known as old man’s beard and listed as a noxious weed in some states), Nelumbo nucifera (a type of lotus), honeyweed and the shrub Heimia salicifolia. It is mixed with a synthetic version of THC (the active ingredient in marijuana). It is also sometimes mixed with vanilla, citrus and other scents.

That’s hardly perfect, but it begins to give some shape to “plant materials mixed with synthetic materials.”

Our job is to illuminate, and we do that best with specifics.

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