Plate 5

Snake, Caterpillar, Butterfly, and Insects on Plant, 18th century

Not on Viewexpand_more

Here Merian drew the root of the cassava plant, Manihot esculenta (Crantz). She noted that the Suriname natives grated the starchy root, pressed out the juice, then placed the root on a hot plate and baked it "like a rusk." This process made the root palatable and eliminated (or at least safely reduced) the poisonous compounds. "Should a man or an animal drink the extracted juice cold, he or it dies an extremely painful death," she said. The snake is the Amazon Tree Boa, Corallus hortulanus (Linnaeus); its swollen stomach indicates that it had recently eaten.

Snake, Caterpillar, Butterfly, and Insects on Plant
Artist Life
Accession Number
Catalogue Raisonne
Nissen: 1342; Cat. Ger. Nat'l. Museum, 1967
Curator Approved

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Plate 5