Overhead view of 3 heritage variety corn cobs photographed in a wicker basket. These varieties with their multi-coloured pieces of corn are popular for their decorative uses but some varieties can be used in corn meal for making taco’s for example. Also known as Indian corn or flint corn. Colour, horizontal with some copy space.

Translating Corn

To most of the world, “corn” is “maize,” a word that comes from the Taíno mahizwas. Not for British colonists in North America, though.
A photograph of Cyanea pohaku from The indigenous trees of the Hawaiian Islands (1913)

Cyanea Pohaku: The Plant Discovered Right Before Extinction

Cyanea pohaku, the extinction of which can be traced to human interventions in the environment, was gone before we had a chance to really study it.
Young female and her little son planting tree in one of city parks on summer day

Building Community and Urban Tree Canopy

Long before the COVID-19 pandemic, Black communities and other reformers in New York City recognized the ameliorative social effects of greening urban spaces.
Ali Wallace, 1905

Ali: Alfred Russel Wallace’s Right-Hand Gun

Wallace wouldn't have become a famous naturalist without help from colonial networks and hundreds of locals, including his indefatigable Sarawak servant, Ali.
Guarana Fruit

Guaraná: Stimulation from the Amazon to the World

Long cherished by Indigenous peoples for its medicinal and stimulating properties, guaraná remains a key element of Brazilian identity.
An illustration of a woman distilling, 1691

The Home Science Labs of English Noblewomen

In the eighteenth century, elite women with a scientific bent often turned to distilling medicines, a craft that helped them participate in experimentation.
A typical long-horn Texas Steer

Longhorns Long Gone (And Returned)

The end of the era of so-called Texas Longhorns doesn’t seem to have been sentimentalized at the time. Why do we wax nostalgic about it now?
Stevia rebaudiana

Stevia’s Global Story

Native to Paraguay, Ka’a he’e followed a circuitous path through Indigenous medicine, Japanese food science, and American marketing to reach the US sweeteners market.
A botanical illustration of Indigofera tinctoria from La botanique de J.J. Rousseau, 1805

Plant of the Month: Indigo

The cultivation of this plant for its cherished blue dye tells the story of exploitative agricultural practices—and, hopefully, its reversal.
Euglandina rosea

A Slimy Story: Snail Mucus

Land snails, mostly hermaphroditic, follow slime trails to find their mates. Others, including predatory Rosy Wolf Snails, follow the mucus to find their meals.