Blacklisted: A Planted Allegory,
Audio Guide

Jenny Yurshansky

Curator: Dr. Rotem Rozental

Online Launch: June 17, 2020

This project emerged from a moment of complete standstill, in which we all became sheltered in place, witnesses to extreme conditions that upended life as we know it. This immersive guide consists of narrated stories of plants found outside your window, although they were categorized as invasive and included in California’s “blacklist.” The guide began with plants found at AJU’s campus, and we hope you will bring it into your world: your yard, sidewalk, your favorite park. Take it with you. Locate these plants. Listen to their stories, see what they tell you about the world around you, about yourself. 

Nationwide “blacklists” of plants differentiate “natives” and “non-natives.” The “non-natives” are outlined as competitors with other plants, as a source of negative economic impact, or simply as un-aesthetically pleasing. This guide identifies them and gives voice to their potential testimonies to the human experience. 

This is the first of a two-part project by artist Jenny Yurshansky, which offers viewpoints of immigration, belonging and otherness, as these are weaved into botanical landscapes that reflect people and history. 

Yurshansky has been gathering observations, samples, and narratives for a decade. Here, she researched the AJU campus and invited actors to narrate monologues written for each plant. We now get to share these with you. 

This guide will continue to expand with you through a series of interactive actions and workshops during the weeks and months to come.

On July 9, Jenny Yurshansky held the workshop How to Tell Your Story, inviting participants to add their stories. Read them here.

An artist talk  with Jenny Yurshansky and Dr. Rotem Rozental was held June 17. Click here for more info. 

Actors: Ali Ahn, Reiko Aylesworth, Corey Brill, Jason Butler Harner, Michelle Carter,  Jay Erker, Teresa Floyd, Ramiz Monsef, Joy Osmanski, David Ross, Bernard White
Audio Editing and Mixing: Roy Regev

Name: Nerium oleander (Oleander)
Point of Origin: Asia
Date of Entry: Unknown
Voice: Reiko Aylesworth

Name: Phoenix canariensis (Canary Island date palm)
Point of Origin: Canary Islands
Date of Entry: 1600s
Voice: David Ross

Name: Rubus armeniacus (Himalayan blackberry)
Point of Origin: Armenia
Date of Entry: 1885
Voice: Jason Butler Harner

Name: Cotoneaster lacteus (Milkflower cotoneaster)
Point of Origin: China
Date of Entry: 1854
Voice:  Ali Ahn

Name: Pennisetum villosum (Feather grass)
Point of Origin: Africa
Date of Entry: Unknown
Voice: Michelle Carter

Name: Eucalyptus globulus (Tasmanian blue gum)
Point of Origin: Southeastern Australia
Date of Entry: 1856
Voice: Ali Ahn

Name: Carpobrotus edulis (Highway ice plant)
Point of Origin: South Africa
Date of Entry: Early 1900s
Voice: Jay Erker

Name: Echium candicans (Pride of Madeira)
Point of Origin: Northwest Coast of Africa
Date of Entry: Unknown
Voice: Teresa Floyd


Name: Centaurea melitensis (Malta star thistle)
Point of Origin: Europe and North Africa
Date of Entry: 1797
Voice: Anonymous


Name: Nicotiana glauca (Tree tobacco)
Point of Origin: South America
Date of Entry: 1800s

Voice: Joy Osmanski

Name: Ailanthus altissima (Tree of heaven)
Point of Origin: China
Date of Entry: 1850s
Voice: Corey Brill

Name: Vicia villosa (Hairy vetch)
Point of Origin: Europe
Date of Entry: Unknown
Voice: Ramiz Monsef


Name: Symphytum asperum (Russian comfrey)
Point of Origin: Caucasia
Date of Entry: Unknown
Voice: Jason Butler Harner


Name: Pennisetum setaceum (Purple fountain grass)
Point of Origin: Africa
Date of Entry: Unknown
Voice: Bernard White

Supported by:




The artist thanks the organizations that have previously supported this project: