Through the paleoethnobotanical looking glass with Pamela Mc Bride

Excavating seeds in the New Mexico desert

Looking through Pam’s microscope, a burned yucca seed appears like a meteorite.

She had lightly roasted the seed on her stove to compare it to the ones that she had picked up at one of the ethnobotanical archeology sites in New Mexico and found they are identical. It means, that indigenous people had been living there, and that yucca seeds once made a tasty ingredient to their warm meals from where some had sprinkled into the ashes of the fire place.


Stories of Water, Weaving and Other ways of knowing

Weaving willows in the desert mesa of Taos.

On a trip to visit the Anthropology Library on Museum Hill, we were lured into an older building where a willow basket weaving class was being held. The floors were covered with leaves and wonderful piles of red willow and the smell of the region filled the beautiful room. It was more than a smell, it was a sense of stepping into another time period.


Learning from Mary the Comanche and Eric the Ancestral Puebloan Archaeologist

A yucca fiber could extend from sky to earth for 38 miles before it breaks from its own weight.
Mary is showing how to spin a thin string of yucca, and is rolling threads on the skin of her thighs.
She’s telling that cowboys learned to love the yucca ropes as they could be used without any gloves – so soft were they.


Seed growing timelines

A last seed guardian

How to collect the seeds of an exploding cucumber that catapults its descendants as far as it can? How do you know when the moment has come to harvest the seeds of a milkweed, after they matured and before the wind takes them away?

For more than three decades Wilfried Ernst has learned the secrets of thousands of plants – how to harvest their seeds, archive them and plant new generations. Now he is the last seed guardian at the botanical gardens of Hohenheim University in Stuttgart, Germany.