Plant of the Month: Cascarilla

Epidemics revive old remedies and accelerate experimentation with new ones.
On the left, Heliconia tarumaensis Barreiros (with yellow bracts); on the right, Heliconia acuminata L.C. Richard (with yellow and red bracts). Dumbarton Oaks Rare Book Collection.

Plant of the Month: Heliconia

Heliconias can distinguish among pollinators like hummingbirds and respond selectively to their visits.
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Two_African_American_women,_three-quarter_length_portrait,_seated,_facing_each_other_LCCN99472087.tif

And a Fabulous LGBTQ History Month to You, Too!

Queer people have always had a particular relationship with history. It's only lately that archival silences have been challenged, and overcome.
Botanical manuscript of 450 watercolors of flowers and plants

Plant of the Month: Dittany

Did women in the premodern world have much agency over reproduction? Their use of plants like dittany suggests that they did.
Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium, Maria Sibylla Merian. Amsterdam: Apud Joannem Oosterwyk, 1719. Rare Book Collection, Dumbarton Oaks, Trustees for Harvard University. HOLLIS number 990013327990203941. Multimedia credit: Dumbarton Oaks/Elizabeth Muñoz Huber.

Plant of the Month: Guava

Often classified as an invasive species, guava ignites a longstanding, transnational battle over foreign invaders and local customs.
Kimberlé Crenshaw

Kimberlé Crenshaw’s Intersectional Feminism

Legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw broke new ground by showing how women of color were left out of feminist and anti-racist discourse.
from Anna Maria Luisa de' Medici by Antonio Franchi

Plant of the Month: Peony

Peony's effectiveness as an ancient cure translated into a tool of statecraft in the eighteenth century.
An Ancient Roman latrine

This Is How They Wiped Themselves in Ancient Rome

A very gross but extremely informative look at the archaeology of toilet hygiene.
Lady Montagu in Turkish dress, circa 1756

Before Vaccines, Variolation Was Seriously Trendy

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu is credited with popularizing variolation among the aristocracy in England.
Marie Lafarge, c. 1850

The Arsenic Cake of Madame Lafarge

The first trial to use forensic toxicology electrified France in 1840 with the tale of a bad marriage and poisoned innards.