The peacock flower (or flos pavonis) is an arresting plant, standing nine feet tall in full bloom, with brilliant red and yellow blossoms. But it’s more than beautiful; it’s an abortifacient, too. One of the most striking records of the plant comes from German-born botanical illustrator Maria Sibylla Merian who, in her 1705 book Metamorphosis of the Insects of Surinam, recounts:
An absolutely fascinating article on the medieval and early modern access to abortifacients, and the erosion of reproductive freedoms for women over the past two hundred years. Well worth a read.