Anna Laurent

Botany Blueprint: Burdock

Specimen #23: Burdock (Arctum minus) What do NASA astronauts, new parents, and cardiac surgeons have in common? They all owe a debt of gratitude to the common weed burdock, whose hook-tipped burrs inspired the invention of Velcro. Hailed as the revolutionary “zipperless zipper,” the hook-and-loop fastener has been used to adhere disposable diapers, artificial...

Botany Blueprint: The Lotus

Specimen #22: Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) When I began collecting seed pods, the lotus was something of a holy grail. I knew it through photographs—exotic and beautiful, it’s fair to say I coveted it. I wasn’t going to find one floating in any Hollywood pools, and I wasn’t planning a specimen collecting trip to Eastern...

Botany Blueprint: Wood Rose

Specimen #20: Wood Rose (Merremia tuberosa) Elegant and aged, the wood rose capsule is the dowager of the garden. In her youth, she was pretty enough—a tubular yellow flower that was lovely, but hardly memorable—but now, in her senescence, she has acquired a certain noble grace. The sunny callow blossom has been replaced by...