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. Is this evidence of a kind of cognition?
Ynés Mexía

Ynés Mexía: Botanical Trailblazer

This Mexican-American botanist fought against the harshness of both nature and society to follow her passion for plant collecting.
Usnea antarctica

The Unsung Heroine of Lichenology

Elke Mackenzie’s moments of self-citation illuminate the hopes of someone who, against ease and tradition, did not wish to separate her identity from her research.
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.
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?
agave

Plant of the Month: Agave

The international popularity of tequila threatens the quantity, health, and biodiversity of all species of agave.
The Flower Girl by Charles Cromwell Ingham, 1846

When Botany Was for Ladies

In nineteenth century America, young women took to studying botany—a conjoining of interest, social acceptance, and readily available schooling.
Joseph Rock

Meet the Man Behind the Peony

In China, gramophone and camera in tow, botanist and explorer Joseph Rock collected seeds from the tree peony that bears his name.
Mary Somerset

The Beaufort Botanist and Her “Innocent Diversion”

Despite the twelve volume herbarium she created, this seventeenth-century scientist earned little recognition. 
A plate from Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium, by Maria Sibylla Merian

The Metamorphosis of a 17th-Century Insect Artist

Maria Sibylla Merian's work in the natural sciences was overlooked for centuries. Now a rare butterfly has been named in her honor.