Botanical Adventures

Cassandra Quave’s life is like a tropical forest: varied, colorful, bursting with life yet laced with hidden paths and obstacles.

the cover of the book the plant hunter by Cassandra Quave
Her new memoir, The Plant Hunter: A Scientist’s Quest for Nature’s Next Medicines (also available as an audiobook read by Quave), begins with a spirited childhood in rural Florida marked by dozens of painful surgeries but also joyful explorations of nature, and moves to her pivotal years as an Emory undergrad, travels to investigate the native flora of other lands, and adventures as a medical ethnobotanist.

Quave, curator of the Emory Herbarium and associate professor of dermatology and of the Center for the Study of Human Health, follows clues hidden in ancient plant remedies to search for new compounds to combat the modern-day scourge of antibiotic-resistant infections. “We’ve barely scratched the surface of the medicinal value of plants,” she says, “yet two in five plants are estimated to be threatened with extinction due to the destruction of the natural world.”

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