Michael J. Balick, Ph.D., is Vice President for Botanical Science at The New York Botanical Garden and Director and Philecology Curator of the Botanical Garden’s Institute of Economic Botany. For more than 30 years, he has studied the relationship between plants and people, working with traditional cultures in tropical, subtropical, and desert environments around the world.
An ethnobotanist by trade, I spend a great deal of time in remote parts of the world, thinking about how people relate to plants and how this relationship shapes their cultures. While packing for one of my expeditions, I realized that many of the tools I rely on during my travels are items I carry on a daily basis or have close at hand. In this series, I’ll share some of the things that I’ve found useful in the field and the city alike. Perhaps you will find some of these items helpful, even essential, in daily life or times of need. — M.J.B.
A flashlight is an essential part of fieldwork in places with no electricity. On my earliest travels to remote areas, each researcher had to carry a dozen or more large, D-size batteries to power a heavy flashlight during trips of several months’ duration.