Ynes Mexia was born in Texas in 1870, a descendant of Mexican-American settlers, and spent most of her life in Texas, Philadelphia, and Mexico City.
After her husband died, she moved to San Francisco, California, and became a social worker. At the age of 51, she entered the University of California and began studying botany.
Many of the plants in North and South America had not yet been identified. In 1925, she accompanied an expedition to Mexico to collect biology samples. She returned the next year to the western states of Mexico, this time traveling alone.
In the following years, she collected samples in Alaska, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Argentina, Bolivia, and Mexico. Working mostly alone, she made cultural observations of the people she lived with and collected more than 150,000 plants, resulting in the discovery of 500 new species.
Ynes Mexia’s passion for exploring and collecting samples of wildlife led her to Alaska, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Argentina, Bolivia, and Mexico.