"The Plant Hunter: A Scientist's Quest for Nature's Next Medicines" (Encore)
A chat with one of the world's leading ethnobotanists, Dr. Cassandra Quave, who tells us about her candid, action-packed memoir.
(Note: This interview first aired last fall.) Aspirin comes to us, as you may know already, from the willow tree, and certain life-saving medicines that are effective against malaria come from cinchona and wormwood. In fact, a lot of medicine comes directly from the natural world -- and yet, sadly, the potential of medicinal plants is often downplayed or even ignored by experts and lay people alike. Our guest is one of the world's leading ethnobotanists, Dr. Cassandra Quave. Her memoir recounts her ongoing quest to develop new ways to fight illness and disease through the healing powers of plants. Her book is "The Plant Hunter: A Scientist's Quest for Nature's Next Medicines." As was noted of this candid autobiography in the journal Science: "Quave remains determined, resourceful, and cognizant of the alliances that have enabled her life's work.... [She] exhibits a deep humanity and humility in her writing. This, along with her thrilling adventures -- often with children in tow -- spurs the reader on. In the end, she succeeds in demonstrating that plants are an underutilized resource for drug discovery and in communicating the many joys and challenges that accompany a career in science."