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.
The Dragon tree (left) and Dragon tree fruit (right)

Plant of the Month: The Dragon Tree

Dragon's blood is all the rage now, but where does the scarlet resin come from?
Roman Street Scene by Ettore Forti

Everyone in Pompeii Got Takeout, Too

Archaeologists have found that snack bars called tabernae fed much of the city in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius.
A developing Gall on a Quercus pubescens caused by the insect Cynips quercusfolii.

Are Galls Miracle Cures or Just Weird Growths on Plants?

For millennia, humans have exploited galls for medicine, fuel, food, tanning, and dyeing. Some people have considered them miraculous.
agave

Plant of the Month: Agave

The international popularity of tequila threatens the quantity, health, and biodiversity of all species of agave.
New Cider by Thomas Waterman Wood

The Ancient Roots of Apple Cider

Alcoholic apple cider has been around for centuries. So why does "hard cider" feel like a new trend?
A piece of polished amber

Facts and Fancies About Amber

It's taken scientists a long time to figure out what amber is made of, and what we can learn from it.
Image from Livre des profits ruraux (late 15th century France)

The Landlord Asks for a Christmas Rose

Bizarre customs of landholding—from demands for flowers to ritualized flatulence—reflect the philosophy that developed under the feudal system.
tiger

Catching Cats With Cologne

The cat-attracting ability of perfume has been known since at least the 18th century. Will it help authorities catch a killer tiger?
bezoar goat

From the Belly of a Goat to the Mouth of a King

Bezoars, a strange lump formed in the belly of a goat, once were considered a panacea, and worth more than their weight in gold.