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Richard Evans Schultes
Richard Evans Schultes (January 12, 1915 – April 10, 2001) may be considered the father of modern ethnobotany, not only in his devotion to the study of native uses of entheogenic or hallucinogenic plants, especially in the Amazon, in his lifelong collaborations with chemists, but also in his charismatic influence as an educator at Harvard University on a number of field botanists who went on to write popular books and assume influential positions in museums, botanical gardens, etc. Dr. Schultes received numerous awards and decorations including the gold medal from the Linnean Society of London in 1992, considered a top honor in botany.
Additional recommended knowledge
A Harvard student himself from 1934 to 1941, Schultes studied with Oakes Ames, orchidologist and director of the Harvard Botanical Museum, who influenced his student research with the ritual use of peyote cactus among the Kiowa of Oklahoma, as well as his discovery of the lost identity of the Mexican hallucinogenic plants teonanácatl (various mushrooms belonging to the Psilocybe genus) and ololiuqui (a morning glory species) in Oaxaca, Mexico.
The first of many prolonged trips to the Upper Amazon began in 1941 as a Harvard research associate, and included a search for wild disease-resistant rubber species in an effort to free the United States from dependence on Southeast Asian rubber plantations which had become unavailable due to Japanese occupation in World War II. Schultes' botanical fieldwork among Native American communities led him to be one of the first to alert the world about destruction of the Amazon rainforest and the disappearance of its native people. He collected over 24,000 herbarium specimens and published numerous ethnobotanical discoveries including the source of the dart poison known as curare, now commonly employed as a muscle relaxant during surgery.
Schultes became curator of Harvard's Oakes Ames Orchid Herbarium in 1953, curator of economic botany in 1958, and professor of biology in 1970. His ever-popular undergraduate course on Economic Botany was noted for his Victorian demeanor, lectures delivered while wearing a white lab coat, insistence on memorization of systematic botanical names, films depicting native ritual use of plant inebriants, blow pipe demonstrations, and hands-on labs (plant sources of grain, paper, caffeine, dyes, medicines, tropical fruits). His composed and kindly persona combined with expressive eye gestures masked his exotic experience and helped capture the imagination of the many students he inspired.
References and external links
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Richard_Evans_Schultes". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|