Lost for 190 years, a three-volume manuscript blooming with vivid color drawings of Cuban flora has resurfaced in upstate New York.
Nondescript marbled cardboard covers and a title page in cursive handwriting announce Specimens of the Plants & Fruits of the Island of Cuba by Mrs. A.K. Wollstonecraft. This simplicity belies the contents of the slim, well-worn volumes. Pages and pages contain 121 illustrated plates showing plants such as red cordia sebestena, deep purple Lagerstroemia, and white angel’s trumpet in consummate detail.
Accompanying them are 220 pages of English-language descriptions relating historical facts, indigenous applications, poetry, and personal observations. Hewing faithfully to scientific conventions, the illustrations show vegetation, life cycles, and dissections of reproductive parts. Some pressed plant