Interactive Map Teaches About Legendary Ethnobotanist

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Photo courtesy Reschultes Archive
Botanical explorer and ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes (1915 - 2001) led a fascinating life.

The Amazon Conservation Team — a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving South American rainforests — has created an interactive map about the explorations and botanical discoveries of ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes (1915 – 2001). Schultes spent decades studying the Amazon rainforest and the indigenous communities who live under its rich canopy. Considered the father of modern ethnobotany, Harvard-trained Schultes collected more than 24,000 species of plants during his studies, 300 of which were new to science.

Throughout his travels, Schultes’ love of plants and respect for indigenous knowledge helped him earn the trust of native community leaders. His studies focused on plants used by shamans for healing rituals and by hunters for poisonous darts and blowguns. After the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, Schultz went to the American Embassy in Bogotá, Colombia, to volunteer his service. Instead, he was told to return to the Amazon on a special mission to find high-yielding and disease-resistant strains of rubber trees, which were vital to the war effort (a single Sherman tank required a half ton of rubber).

Intermingled with historical photos and pin-point locations of Schultes’ botanical discoveries, the interactive map is available in both English and Spanish at The Amazonian Travels of Richard Evans Schultes.

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