On September 24, 2021, in the framework of the European Researchers’ Night initiatives, a Japanese tree called Aphananthe aspera, commonly known as muku tree, was planted at the Botanical Garden of Perugia and dedicated to Jeanne Baret (1740-1807), the first woman who circumnavigated the globe following the expedition of Louis-Antoine de Bougainville (1766-1769).
Only men were allowed on board at that time, and Jeanne had to disguise herself for years in order not to be noticed. The story of this intrepid explorer and botanist is an extraordinary example of the contribution, too often unknown, that female scientists have brought to the advancement of knowlodge.
An even more valuable contribution, considering the many more obstacles that women have had to face compared to their male colleagues.
Aphananthe aspera or muku tree has an important symbolic meaning, since it was grown at the Botanical Garden of Perugia from the seeds of a Hibaku-jumoku, a tree that survived the atomic bombings of Hiroshima. The seeds came from the Botanical Garden of Hiroshima thanks to a collaboration established between the Science Museums Center (CAMS), PEFC Italy (Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes), the “World without Wars and Violence” Association, UNITAR (United Nations Institute for Training and Research) and Green Legacy Hiroshima.
In addition, the chosen tree will be the “first stone” laid for the creation of a Japanese garden, ideal setting for the tea ceremony.
weTree Association, in tribute to Jeanne Baret, has collaborated with the University of Perugia – CAMS.
The initiative saw the participation of Prof. David Grohmann (Director of CAMS), Dr Marco Maovaz (Head of the Botanical Garden of Perugia), Dr Ilaria Borletti Buitoni (President of the Association weTree) and a delegation of the Garden Club Perugia.
Torino, Pavia, Camerino and Catania have also joined the proposal launched by weTree, dedicating a tree to a female scientist.
In this post-pandemic recovery time, weTree’s mission is to increase urban greenery enhancing at the same time the contribution of women whose example can be particularly significant for the community. Not only woodlands, then, but also recognition of the role of women.