The Museum’s ethnobotanical laboratory was the first of its kind in the United States and still has one of the largest collections of comparative and archaeological plant specimens in any North American university. The herbarium specimen shown here was collected during the U-M Mexican Expedition of 1934. Botanist C.L. Lundell, a research assistant at the U-M Botanical Gardens, led the expedition to the Charcas Region of San Louis Potosi in north central Mexico. Lundell is also remembered as the discoverer of the Maya city of Calakmul. The expedition team of Lundell and three U-M students brought back living plants for the Botanical Gardens as well as herbarium specimens. (Among the living plants was an agave, or century plant, that recently bloomed at the Matthaei Botanical Garden, at an astounding 80 years of age.) Most of the approximately 2000 herbarium specimens went to the University Herbarium, but species used in agriculture, industry, and medicine came to the Museum’s ethnobotanical laboratory. The plant shown here is Ipasote de comer (also epazote, Dysphania ambrosiodes), which is used in cooking and as a medicine to treat intestinal parasites.
In honor of the University of Michigan’s 2017 bicentennial, we are celebrating the remarkable archaeological and ethnographic collections and rich legacy of research and teaching at the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology by posting one entry a day for 200 days. The entries will highlight objects from the collections, museum personalities, and UMMAA expeditions. The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology is also posting each day for 200 days on Twitter and Facebook (follow along at #KMA200). After the last post, an exhibition on two centuries of archaeology at U-M opens at the Kelsey. Visit the exhibit—a joint project of the UMMAA and the Kelsey—from October 18, 2017 to May 27, 2018.