Richard Evans Schultes (1915-2001) was the grandfather of ethnobotany, the relationship between plants and people. The Harvard professor, who documented 200 new species and cataloged 2,000 medicinal plants, wrote a book on LSD with Albert Hoffman, raised awareness about the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, and directly influenced the likes of EO Wilson, Andrew Weil, and William Burroughs. Schultes was a scientist, explorer, psychonaut, and photographer. Indeed, his field photographs, collected in the book The Lost Amazon, are now on display at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Seen here, a 1942 photo of a shaman from Río Sucumbíos. From Smithsonian magazine:
(Schultes) inspired a generation of Harvard students to become leaders in botany and rain forest preservation–including Mark Plotkin, president of the Amazon Conservation Team and author of the best-selling Tales of a Shaman's Apprentice. "Here was a guy who went off to the unknown and not only lived to tell about it, he came back with all kinds of cool stuff," Plotkin says.
While most outsiders before him treated the indigenous tribes with condescension that often culminated in violence, Schultes viewed them "as his mentors," says (Schultes's former student and famed ethnobotanist Wade) Davis.
Previously on BB:
• Richard Evans Schultes's Golden Guide to Hallucinogenic Plants