Dr. Wagner’s talk will help connect Paul Gauguin to the plants of the South Pacific at the turn of the 20th century. Some of the most culturally and economically important plants of the South Pacific such as coconut, hibiscus, taro, bananas, sugar cane, breadfruit, and the charismatic Pandanus, or screw pine, exist in Selby Gardens. Many of these plants were introduced to the islands by Polynesian settlers from Southeast Asia and Taiwan. Our exhibition speaks to the migration of plants including “Tahitian” vanilla, a plant indigenous to the Americas and introduced to Tahiti in the mid-19th century, where it escaped into the wild and now forms a part of the indigenous flora and culture.
Dr. Warren Wagner is a Research Botanist & Curator at The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. His forte is the native flora, ecosystems and conservation of the Hawaiian Islands.
FREE with general admission