Ynés Mexía

Ynés Mexía Bio

Ynés Mexía was an American-Mexican botanist and explorer, who studied everything from a remote volcano to poisonous berries, is the subject of a Google Doodle in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. She’s credited with discovering 150,000 botanical specimens.

Birth Date 24 May 1870
Birth Place Washington, D.C., United States
Death Date 12 July 1938
Age 67 years
American-Mexican botanist
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She was born on 24 May 1870 in Washington, D.C. She to her Mexican diplomat father, Enrique Mexia, and Sarah Wilmer. The marriage broke up in 1873 when Ynés was three years old, and her father went back to Mexico City.

Her mother took the children, including Ynés and six others from a previous marriage, and moved to Limestone County on an eleven-league grant that became the site of present-day Mexia, Texas.

Ynés Mexía Education

Mexía spent most of her childhood in Texas and received her secondary education in private schools in Philadelphia and Ontario, Canada.

Her early education began at the age of 15, at Saint Joseph’s Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland; after she finished there, she moved to Mexico City, where she lived at the family hacienda for 10 years and took care of her father, who died in 1896.

She planned to become a nun, but her father’s will stipulated that if she did, she would be cut out of the inheritance she shared with a stepsister. She and her stepsister fought over the money with her father’s mistress and a stepbrother.

Mexía’s Work For ??

Mexía never completed a college degree, yet she became an influential figure in her chosen field.

Mexía became one of the most celebrated collectors of botanical specimens in history, according to Google, who gathered about 150,000 specimens.

More than 90 years after she started, scientists are still studying Mexía’s samples, which are now housed in a number of major institutions around the world, wrote Google.

According to Early Women in Science, she collected specimens in the United States, Brazil, Peru, and Mexico.

Outside described her journey to a volcano; she was based in Ecuador and traveled to find Chiles, a remote volcano on the Colombian border, because it was said that wax palm grew there, Outside reported.

This was a tree that was said to tolerate the cold at high altitudes. She eventually found the tree. I photographed the great spathe and flower-cluster, so heavy the two men could hardly lift it; made measurements and notes; and took portions of the great arching fronds, she later wrote, according to Outside.

Mexía Google Doodle


Google timed the Google Doodle to coincide with the anniversary of Mexía’s first plant collection trip.

She had gone to Sinaloa, Mexico, Google wrote, in 1925, accompanied by Stanford University colleagues in search of rare botanical species.

She was 55 and had joined a local Sierra Club. It was a tough journey in which she fractured her hand and ribs, but she brought back 500 specimens, 50 that were newly discovered, according to Google.

According to Latino Natural History, the collection trip involved botanist Roxanna Stinchfield Ferris of Stanford University. One of the species they collected was named for Mexia: Mimosa mexiae, the site reported.

The Natural History Museum’s biography of Mexia says she decided she could accomplish more on her own, once she arrived in Mexico.

She left the group behind and spent two years collecting more than 1,500 specimens, which she sent to the herbarium at Berkeley. Her success in Mexico assured her reputation, the bio explained.

Ynés Mexía Death and Cause

Ynés Mexía died at age 67, having collected specimens for only about 13 years. She died of lung cancer, according to Latino Natural History.

Early Women in Science reported that Mexía worked with famous scientists such as Agnes Chase and Alice Eastwood. She managed to collect thousands of plant specimens, including unknown types of plants, the site reported.

According to the Natural History Museum biography, her adventures were many; for example, she collected plants in Alaska, traveled the Amazon River by canoe, and traveled to Mexico and South America several times.

In merely 13 years, she collected 8,800 numbers or more than 145,000 specimens. They include two new genera, Mexianthus Robinson (Asteraceae) and Spulula Mains (Pucciniaceae), the bio reads.

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