Ynes Mexia

By Leanna Feder

Mar 6 2019

Ynes Mexia began her botanical career at age 55 when she embarked on her first collecting trip to western Mexico with Stanford botanist Roxana Ferris. Her first trip ended abruptly when she fell from a cliff, injuring her hand and fracturing her ribs. Nevertheless, she persisted! She returned from this expedition with over 500 specimens, and went on to collect approximately 145,000 specimens during the span of her career.

Mexía wrote beautiful essays about her collection trips, highlighting her love for the natural world and adventure. In a letter to her physician and mentor, Dr. Philip King Brown, she wrote:

“I am not a dyed-in-the-wool scientist, I am a nature lover and a bit of an adventureress [sic], and my collecting is secondary, even though very real and very important.”

Bonta, M. M. 1995. American women afield: Writings by pioneering women naturalists. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press.