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Orchids and the Botany of Freedom – Lecture & Book Signing by Author Erica Hannickel

Wednesday, May 31, 2023 | 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.

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PROGRAM: Orchids and the Botany of Freedom – Lecture & Book Signing by Author Erica Hannickel
Free Adult



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Program Details

Orchid discovery and appreciation have long carried reputations of being only for Western elites. The deeper story of orchids, however, includes brilliant enslaved horticulturists, Charles Darwin’s effort to help the U.S. abolitionist cause with his “little book on orchids,” African Americans’ love of the flowers through the twentieth century, the expertise of Malagasy vanilla growers in stabilizing local economies through the global vanilla industry, and more tales of people who have utilized orchids for social justice, rather than personal gain.  

Speaker: Erica Hannickel

Fee: Free. Reservations and walk-ins are welcome.

Location: The Betty Kelso Center

About the Author

Erica Hannickel is a professor of history at Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, and a master gardener. An orchid enthusiast for more than 20 years, she currently grows about 160 orchids at home on two baker’s carts and in a miniature orchid cabinet. Her most recent book Orchid Muse: A History of Obsession in Fifteen Flowers (W.W. Norton & Company, 2022) chronicles little-known stories of orchids involving empresses, artists, enslaved people, and naturalists from around the world. Orchid Muse has recently been longlisted for the 2023 PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award.