Plants and People

Botanical Dimensions is a non-profit organization that has been doing good work with plants for over twenty-five years. BD is a 501(c)(3), tax-exempt entity, founded in California in 1985, and managed by the ethnobotanist Kathleen Harrison. The original mission was “to collect, protect, propagate and understand plants of ethno-medical significance and their lore.” We do all that and more. We work to preserve biodiversity, respecting natural ecosystems and traditions of ecological knowledge. We appreciate, study, and educate others about plants and mushrooms that are felt to be significant to cultural integrity and spiritual well-being.

Our purpose and passion are rooted in the folk-knowledge and uses—both traditional and contemporary—of the flora and fungi of our little planet. Ethnobotany—the relationship between plants and people—is the primary lens we look through in choosing our projects. Ethnobotany is a vast, branching area of study, filled with marvels, challenges and solutions.

The themes of our projects illustrate some of the branches of ethnobotany and ethnomycology. We engage in these kinds of activities:

  • Fieldwork in various cultures, particularly oriented to indigenous peoples of the Americas
  • Document folk uses of plants and fungi, with photography, audio and video recordings, participatory observation, and ethnographic writing
  • Assist locally-initiated cultural revitalization projects that involve plants, fungi and knowledge of nature
  • Support and augment local experts’ efforts to preserve botanical species and herbarium collections
  • Seek and provide support for systematic research projects that investigate the methods and effects of traditional and contemporary plant uses, with published results
  • Make the ethnobotanical perspective and its cultural techniques available to a wider appreciation, through teaching and sharing information and images
  • Sponsor field courses that foster global ethnobotanical awareness, with specific, hands-on, cultural experiences
  • Help direct students of ethnobotany toward educational or volunteer opportunities
  • Educate and empower travelers to recognize, observe and document plant uses
  • Protect or restore native species in disrupted natural habitats
  • Consider the ecological history of a given place, and how that affects the perception and stewardship of nature by humans