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Abstract Detail

Healing the planet: medicinal plants and the legacy of Richard E. Schultes

Bye, Robert [1].

Passage through Mexico - the influence of RES on Mexican economic botany.

Richard Evans Schultes dedicated his life to studying the interrelationships between plants and people as well as sharing his enthusiasm with members of academic and public circles. His botanical formation was grounded in the Harvard University's tradition of taxonomy and "useful" plants. After completing original field work on peyote in Oklahoma (USA), his interdisciplinary vision shifted to Mexico. At these southern latitudes, he discovered more members of this mind-altering ethnobotanical complex and pioneered interdisciplinary studies on mushrooms and ololiuqui. After completing his doctoral thesis on the useful plants of northeastern Oaxaca in 1941, he moved onto northwestern South American where his focus resided for the remainder of his life and where he built his international eminence. Northeastern Oaxaca was the area with which RES became best acquainted. His introduction to the area by the German B. P. Reko allowed him to survey the economic plants of the mountains of the Sierra Madre of Oaxaca; later, he presented the area, the people and the sacred mushrooms to ethnomycologists such as Roger Heim and Gordon Wasson. His broad interest as "the last Victorian explorer" followed the paths by European botanists of the previous century. Other plants caught his attention and he began to publish a series (Plantae Mexicanae) dedicated to expanding the taxonomic, floristic and economic botany of this region. In the late 1950s, he finished writing about Mexican plants, in particular with articles on orchids and the Oaxacan spice, Quararibea funebris. Although northwestern South America dominated his field work, he maintained contact with the second center of New World sacred narcotics through collaboration with researchers conducting field and laboratory investigation in Mexico. Even though the public does not associate RES with Mexican ethnobotany, the intellectual foundation and the implementation of Mexico's contemporary programs in sacred plants, medicinal plants, interpretation of plants found historical sources, and maize conservation are strongly influenced by RES's Mexican passage.

Broader Impacts:

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1 - Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Jardín Botánico del Instituto de Biología, , Mexico, DF, 04510, MEXICO


Presentation Type: Symposium or Colloquium Presentation
Session: SY04
Location: Maryland Room/Chase Park Plaza
Date: Tuesday, July 12th, 2011
Time: 8:45 AM
Number: SY04003
Abstract ID:704

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