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From Fairy Slipper to Death Camas: Secrets of the Lost Cedars, presentation by Dr. Catherine Landis

On the first snowy evening of fall 2022, Center Postdoctoral Associate Dr. Catherine Landis presented a guest lecture at the Everson Art Museum. Entitled “From Fairy Slipper to Death Camas: Secrets of the Lost Cedars,” the lecture accompanied artist Rebecca Hutchison’s current Everson exhibit “Re-Generation.” Landis’ lecture addressed the ecological history of Syracuse, focusing on species found in cedar swamps – including the orchids featured in Hutchinson’s exhibit. Prior to colonization, As Landis shared with audience members, present-day Syracuse was the site of numerous cedar swamps, in which grew many plants – such as fairy slipper orchid, dragon’s mouth orchid, mountain death camas – now rarely found in local habitats. Landis, who is trained as a historical ecologist, began her talk by defining cedar swamps and explaining their ecological significance. Sharing numerous historical and present-day maps, Landis illustrated how colonization reshaped the ecology of this area, and reflected on the meaning of these ‘lost’ ecologies as well as the Indigenous and settler relationships with these places and their plant inhabitants. Following the talk, audience members enthusiastically engaged Landis in a robust Q and A.

Written by Sarah Howard


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