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Rebecca Friedel

Rebecca Friedel

Rebecca Friedel is currently a Plant Humanities Fellow at Dumbarton Oaks, focusing on the cultural histories of plants from the Americas. Friedel is also a paleoethnobotanist and PhD candidate in anthropology at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Her research takes an interdisciplinary approach to reconstructing a history of ancient Maya human-plant relationships in the Mopan River valley of Belize. She is also passionate about education and improving access to knowledge more broadly, having co-founded an educational outreach organization in Belize, Fajina Archaeology Outreach.

Ayecohtli (pictured left) as the scarlet Runner Bean (Phaseolus coccineus): 1931-33 reproduction of The Badianus Manuscript, 1552; Rare Book Collection, Dumbarton Oaks, Trustees for Harvard University, Washington, DC

Plant of the Month: The Runner Bean

From Aztec medicinal remedies to Darwin’s study of flower pollination, local knowledge about the runner bean reveals the importance of biodiversity.
Mimosa pudica

Plant of the Month: The Sensitive Plant

This plant’s animal-like behavior and alleged love-provoking abilities have sparked the imagination of everyone from early modern yogis to today’s scientists.