Just what is exotic? Do you know? I do or thought I did but after thinking about it for a while, I realized that what is exotic to one person may not be the same for another person. I checked the dictionary and came up with three definitions.
a. From a foreign country.
b. Introduced from abroad but not fully acclimatized. Not native.
c. Strikingly unusual or strange in effect or appearance.
Let's look at some of these exotics. To me when we talk about being exotic as in the first definition, I might be talking about someone from Japan who has chosen to wear the traditional garb for a parade. On the other hand, it might refer to an animal found in the zoo such as a tiger or a lion or a baboon. Most of us who live in the US never see these animals outside of the zoo.
I love visiting the zoo because its filled with all sorts of exotic animals, I'd never see otherwise. So if you visit a zoo in a place where there are elephants that run loose, would you find any in the local zoo? Or might you find something like a seal that might not be found locally?
Zoos are the epitome of exotic because they are filled with animals and sometimes plants you see nowhere else.
The second definition is that it is not native but introduced from abroad and is not fully acclimatized. We see this when plants from one location are transported to another location and just exploded growth wise. There is a story about the Volcano National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii. Apparently the wife of the park superintendent was visiting Nepal years go and found this beautiful ginger plant and took it back to the park. She planted it and it turned out to be an extremely invasive plant. Today, the park is fighting to eradicate the enemy and are barely able to keep it in check.
Another plant is the Kudzu vine also known as the "Vine that ate the south". It was imported and used to help curb soil erosion but has taken over much of the south because its extremely invasive nature. Apparently, in its original location, it dies back due to cold but in the south, its too warm to freeze back so it keeps growing.
Finally is the third definition of exotic where something is strikingly unusual or strange in appearance or effort. We often refer to people when using the third definition. They often meet our definition of exotic. What about the floating marketplace in Thailand where vendors have their wares in boats?
I think exotic is often used to describe people, places, or things that are out of our normal sphere. For me many of the fruits I grew up eating are considered exotic by others. I grew up on mangoes, papaya, lychee, rambutans, guavas, star fruit, passion fruit, and all sorts of other things that are exotic to many people.
I've seen bamboo forests in several different places but not like the one I saw in Blaine, WA. Someone planted bamboo a long time ago but its pretty much taken over the property and started invading the neighbors. The owners have cut enough of a pathway to get their cars in the yard and they are able to get into the house but the bamboo is so thick, I don't think they get sunshine into the house.
So this begs the question, "When is something no longer exotic?" All I know is that what is exotic to me, may not be exotic to someone who grew up on it. What do you think about this topic? Please feel free to leave your opinion.