Thirteen Ways of Looking at Mugwort

image courtesy Dcrjsr

Taught by Rae Winkelstein and Uğur Güney

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Rae Winkelstein is a poet, editor, and teacher. She holds an M.F.A. in poetry from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Rae studied botany and ecology during college and has worked as a botanical research assistant and landscape gardener.


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Uğur Güney is a PhD candidate in physics, specializing in fundamentals of quantum mechanics. He teaches introductory physics laboratory courses and is a passionate advocate of correctly using the word 'quantum'.

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Following January's spontaneous urban plants (aka weeds) class about the mosses, a lineage of seedless plants that coexisted with dinosaurs, this class focuses on a much more recent addition to the plant kingdom that shares our modern cities: mugwort.

Mugwort (genus: Artemisia) is the gangly, allergy-triggering, ubiquitous character in the spontaneous urban plant story. We can observe it along sidewalks and in parks and lots throughout New York City, where it is generally regarded as an unattractive pest. Yet mugwort is also a medicinal plant with a long history of human use, including associations with potent dreams and warding off evil. In addition, recent research indicates that mugwort is capable of effectively removing toxic heavy metals from soil.

In the class, you will learn quite a lot about mugwort from a variety of perspectives including evolution, morphology, reproduction, geography, cultural history, phytoremediation, and quantum physics in photosynthesis.

Since Spring has finally arrived, we will also venture outdoors together to see mugwort in its urban habitat and will have a chance to peer at its tiny buds and flowers under magnification.

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