PLANT SCIENCE BULLETIN
A Publication of the Botanical Society of America, Inc.
9 APRIL 1963 NUMBER 2
back man's first use of herbs for the treatment of his ailments is, of course,
an impossible task. No records remain of the thousands of years of early human
life, and we can only poorly speculate as to prehistoric activities. Recognition
of the medicinal value of certain plants seems to have occurred very early
in the development of all known peoples. Certainly it was a discovery which
long preceded the art of writing. In order to have some idea of the history
of plant drugs, we must follow the evolution of medicine itself. Primitive
man did not admit the existence of disease from what we would call natural
causes. Since he did not understand disease, he viewed it as the result of
malevolent influence exercised by a god, or supernatural being, or by another
human being, alive or dead. Disease was, there-fore, a magical or magico-religious,
rather than a natural, phenomenon.
may have been that during early man's constant search for food, he ate certain
plants which caused marked and unexpected physiological effects. They could
have produced a very bitter taste, or vomiting, or defecation, or headache,
or hallucinations, or even death. All of these drug actions would have been
interpreted as a means of expelling the demon responsible for the disease.
It may also have been that man, like the animals, had a natural defense in
the instinctive quest for healing. A dog will eat grasses or other plants
when he is sick, and man may well have had a similar instinct, or at least
he may have learned the medical value of herbs from observing the animals.
the origins of man's medico-botanical knowledge, there is positive evidence
that by 3000 B.C. he had developed a substantial lore of botanical drugs in
China, Sumeria, India, and Egypt. The Chinese Emperor Shen Nung compiled a
pharmacopoeia about 2760 B.C. which lists several hundred plant species; a
Sumerian tablet (about 2200 B.C.) gives prescriptions using botanical materials;
the Indian Rem Veda (before 1600 B.C.) makes mention of numerous plant remedies;
but the most complete early reference is the Egyptian Ebers Papyrus (about
1600 B.C.). It describes more than seven hundred herbal remedies, including,
among others, poppy, castor oil, squill, aloes, and caraway.
of the medicinal herbs of the Egyptians seem to have been chosen primarily
for their aromatic properties. Pleasant smells were believed to ward off the
vapors of disease. No doubt they were also favored because of their ability
to overcome the disagreeable odors which frequently accompany many illnesses.
The reliance on aromatic sub-stances has persisted throughout the history
of medicine, and is probably the origin of the custom in medieval times of
physicians carrying a nosegay of sweet-smelling flowers. Apart from the aromatic
herbs, the Egyptians were undoubtedly familiar with several plants now known
to have real therapeutic value. For example, the soporific effects of poppy
preparations were evidently known to them, but it is doubtful whether they
made use of their pain-killing properties in surgical operations.
medicine is generally considered to date from Hippocrates in classical Greek
times (460–361 B.C.). His great contribution to medicine was to sweep
away much of the mysticism which unfortunately crept back in later times.
Hippocrates stressed the importance of the careful observation of the symptoms
of the individual patient, and it was on this, rather than on the haphazard
methods of his predecessors, that he based his treatments. From writings attributed
to him it appears that he made use of three to four hundred drugs, the majority
of which were of plant origin. The first Greek herbal was compiled in the
fourth century B.C., but no copy is now known. Theophrastus (372–285
B.C.) included in his writings the Historica Plantarum which listed some five
hundred plants that were probably originally compiled by Aristotle.
Greek teachings were carried on in Rome by Galen (IO3–193 A.D.), and
his ideas together with those of Hippocrates dominated European medicine for
some fifteen centuries. However, in the absence of original thinkers and experimenters,
their teachings were allowed to turn to dogma and, with the passing of time,
became distorted and misunderstood.
Another great and influential figure of the first century A.D. was Pliny the
Elder. Although he knew little medicine, his reputation was so great in other
respects that his opinions on this subject were widely accepted for many centuries.
In dealing with medicinal plants he put forward the so-called Doctrine of the
Signatures which held that for every disease there was an appropriate herbal
remedy, if only it could be found by the careful examination of botanical specimens.
For example, plants with yellow flowers were used for jaundice; the root of
Bryonia resembles a swollen foot and was used for dropsy; plants with red roots
were obviously to he used for blood disease; leaves of lung-wort are lobed and
spotted and thus resemble lungs, an association which has carried over to the
PLANT SCIENCE BULLETIN
WILLIAM L. STERN, Editor
Washington 25, D. C.
HARLAN P. BANKS Cornell University
NORMAN H. BOKE University of Oklahoma
SYDNEY S. GREENFIELD Rutgers University
ELSIE QUARTERMAN Vanderbilt University
ERICH STEINER University of Michigan
APRIL 1963 VOLUME 9
OF ADDRESS: Notify the Treasurer of the Botanical Society of America, Inc.,
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the shimmer and shaking of poplar leaves in the breeze was the basis for the
name "quaking aspen" and for their use in palsy. One of the strongest associations
which developed at a later date was connected with the European mandrake (Mandragora).
The root of this plant frequently resembled the complete human body and, there-fore,
was almost a universal cure. The vendors fostered the story that when the
root was pulled from the ground it emitted a piercing shriek, immediately
fatal to the hearer. The sellers of the roots were supposed to harvest them
by tying a dog to the plant, and after stopping their ears and retiring to
a safe distance, they called the animal. In answering the call, the dog pulled
out the root but of course died in the process, thus justifying the high cost
of the herb. From these examples it is obvious that this Doctrine considerably
set back the use of plants in medicine based on their real therapeutic effect.
However, what was lost by medicine was gained by botany for the Doctrine encouraged
an intensive study of plant morphology.
progress of medicine was further retarded by the Dark Ages. The barbarian
hordes that overran Rome held primitive and blood-thirsty religious beliefs,
and their medical practices were mixed up with sacrificial rites. The devils
and demons who caused ill health were expelled with herbs, charms, and religious
incantations similar to those of ancient times but with a medieval dress.
However, the progressive medical traditions of Greece and Rome were kept alive
by the Arabs. The Arabian pharmacists were able to add to the large number
of tried and tested herbal remedies of the Greeks from the large abundance
of plants in the gardens of the East. The perfumes and spices of the Orient
were skillfully blended to serve the healing art. Over fourteen hundred herbs
were classified and studied, and thus provided a basis for the beginnings
of alchemy. Nevertheless, Arabian physicians, like their colleagues all over
Europe, were as much conjurers and magicians as doctors.
medicine progressed only slowly through the Middle Ages, but by the sixteenth
century, it was firmly established. The remedies of many peoples and many
centuries had, by then, been recorded in a fairly accessible form, thanks
to the invention of the process of printing in 1450. Valuable additions also
came from explorations in the New World. Though the grain was scarcely separated
from the chaff, the time was about ripe for herbalism to become an effective
weapon for fighting disease. Gerarde, for example, the author of a very famous
herbal, cultivated an extensive herb garden in England, and his catalogue
published in 1596 listed over one thousand plants. The methods described in
his herbal are quite similar to those used in the pharmacy of today. As might
be expected from the circumstances of their origin, many of these remedies
were valueless, but mixed in with them are many that have stood the test of
time. The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries really mark the transition between
the old medieval herbalism with its superstition and the modern use of herbs
based on careful observation and controlled experiment. Nevertheless, the
older methods die hard. Even today worthless herbal remedies enjoy a considerable
vogue among the superstitious and the uninformed, especially as home folklore
came only with a return to the scientific method based on observation and
experiment recommended to physicians by Hippocrates more than two thousand
years previously. By carefully observing the effects of various drugs in the
course of a disease, it was gradually possible to sort out many of those preparations
which were genuinely beneficial. A number of these were remarkably complex
in their composition. Many of the ingredients were added for reasons of superstition
or in the belief that they could do no harm. Nevertheless, because they did
include some drugs of real value, a number of these elaborate formulas were
effective. Gradually, by trial and error, useful plants were distinguished
from those to which even today no definite therapeutic value can be attached.
the eighteenth century chemistry and pharmacy were overlapping to a considerable
extent. This joining of the two sciences had a great influence on the development
of both. To a considerable extent the pharmacists had been able to separate
the useful plants from the useless. Now with the help of the chemist it became
possible to eliminate the inactive parts of medically valuable plants. For
example, just before the end of the eighteenth century, it had been possible
to obtain crude crystalline quinine from cinchona bark, and many more drugs
were isolated in the early part of the nineteenth century, as can he seen
from the dates given in the list mentioned later. This process of extracting
and purifying the active principles of natural drugs was greatly extended
during this period and today is an important branch of chemistry that will
be discussed in more detail later.
all the herbs used by the ancients, and even of the hundreds mentioned in
modern encyclopedias of botanical
very few can actually be considered as playing a real part in the modern doctor's
armamentarium against disease. Some of the more important ones are the following:
Ephedra equisetina and E. sinica (Chinese Ma Huang, 3000 B.C.)
active alkaloid is ephedrine (1887) which is used for allergic disorders,
as a stimulant, and in the treatment of low blood pressure.
paver soznniferuzn (Sumerian and early Egyptian, 'Goo B.C.)
well-known opium alkaloids, morphine (1804) and codeine (1832), still have
considerable value for the relief of pain, in spite of their addicting properties.
Another sub-stance from the same plant, papaverine (1848), is an anti-spasmodic.
autumnale (Greek, 8o A.D.; Arabian, boo A.D.)
alkaloid colchicine (1819) has quite recently found use as an antimitotic
in the study of plant genetics. Digitalis purpurea (Welsh, circa 900 A.D.)
cardiac glycosides found in this plant are still important in the treatment
of certain cardiac conditions. Digitoxin (1875).
flea arainca, Thai sinensis
ancient beverage plants contain the alkaloid caffeine (182o) which is used
as a stimulant and diuretic. Atropa belladonna (1500 A.D.), Hyoscyamus muticus
(50 A.D.), and Datura stramonium (1600 A.D.)
solanaceous plants have been used by various peoples for centuries. They contain
the alkaloids atropine (1819) and hyoscyamine (1819) which are parasympatholytic
remijia (Peruvian Indians, pre-Columbian)
use of this plant in the treatment of malaria was discovered by the Spanish
about 1600. It is doubtful that it was used for this purpose by the natives.
Quinine (1820) has now been largely supplanted by better synthetic drugs,
but the other main alkaloid, quinidine (1833), still has considerable use
in cardiac arrythmias.
coca (Peru, 1688)
active alkaloid, cocaine (186o), is a powerful local anesthetic and has been
the prototype of many synthetic compounds.
viride (North American Indian)
alkaloids of this plant have been frequently pre-scribed for hypertension.
Protoveratrine-A (1890). Chondrodendron tomentosum (South American Arrow Poison—Curare)
alkaloid present in this plant, d-tubocurarine (1948), is used as a muscle
relaxant in surgery.
serpentina (Ayurvedic medicine of India, 700 B.C.)
crude drug and its active alkaloid, reserpine (1952), are used extensively
today in the treatment of high blood pressure and as a tranquilizer, a use
mentioned by the ancients.
outstanding economic success of two plants has been largely responsible for
the greatly increased interest in medicinal herbs during the last ten years.
The first, Rauwolfia, mentioned above, has yielded a medically important product,
which at its height had sales in this country alone of more than $20,000,000
a year. This adequately demonstrated that at least one of the ancient remedies
had merit. The other plant, Dioscorea, does not yield a drug itself, but it
does provide a basic starting material for today's production of an important
number of the steroid pharmaceuticals, such as testosterone, the male hormone,
and the many cortical hormones related to cortisone.
a result of this stimulus, practically every pharmaceutical company in the
country is engaged in some form of plant drug research in the hope of finding
another Rauwolfia, or at least some new product which will be of use to the
medical profession. It is well recognized that the chances of success are
probably not as great as they are through the synthetic approach, but it is
a gamble well worth taking. Consequently, plant collecting expeditions are
being financed to all parts of the world, especially in the prolific tropical
regions. Witch doctors and medicine men are being consulted. Folklore remedies
are being reinvestigated, but now with the tools and highly critical attitude
of mod-ern research. Very few plants withstand the test, and this is not surprising.
Modern jungle doctors are no better in-formed about the diseases they treat
than were their earlier predecessors, and their drug concoctions are largely
chosen for the same reasons.
then, is the justification for this approach to the collection of plants for
present-day screening programs? First of all, it provides a basis, sound or
otherwise, for getting plants into the scientific laboratories for investigation,
and this is the most important consideration of all. The medicinal value of
a plant will obviously never be discovered unless it reaches a laboratory.
Second, the natural selection of folklore herbs which has gone on over the
centuries must have increased, if only slightly, their chances of yielding
useful products. For example, it has already been mentioned that bitterness
was, and it still is, a criterion for the choice of an herb by medicine men.
Alkaloids are one of the more prevalent bitter substances in plants, and they
have been the chief useful class of plant-derived medicinals. Certainly, testing
for their presence in a plant by taste, or much better by a chemical method,
is a very valid and frequently used procedure in the field.
approach, and one which would seem to be much more scientific, is the collection
of specific plants on the basis of their botanical relationship. For instance,
it is known that certain plant families produce alkaloids more abundantly
than others. Therefore, unexplored genera of these families should be investigated.
Also, if one tabulates the plant families that have been well investigated
according to a botanical system of classification, it becomes obvious that
many families have not been touched, and another basis for selection becomes
available. It may be question-able, however, whether this approach is any
more productive of active extracts than the other, but at least it is systematic.
It is probable that this search for plant drugs will
to be based mainly on empiricism.
investigation of specific plants also has a difficulty. Whereas the collection
of native herbs can be done by any good "bush man" who can adequately prepare
herbarium vouchers, the identification of botanical material in the field
can only be done by professional botanists. In many of the more remote parts
of the world, where unfortunately the flora is most varied, competent botanists
are a rarity. This difficulty, of course, can be overcome by sending well-equipped
expeditions into the tropics, or more simply, by investigating the great number
of unexplored plants which grow essentially in our own backyards and are thus
near capable botanical advice.
an accurate botanical name associated with each test specimen, the investigator
is in a position to make a search of the literature concerning the particular
genus involved. To the chemist the most important source of in-formation is
Chemical Abstracts, where plants are listed under their generic name or cross-referenced
with the common name. Such a search brings to light all that is already known
about the plant, both as to its chemistry and its biological properties. Even
if a plant has been already quite thoroughly investigated, it cannot always
be automatically eliminated because it may not have been considered in the
light of new biological interest and emphasis. Furthermore, other species
of the genus and even similar samples of the same species obtained from different
geographical areas often have properties other than those already reported.
usual procedure for the evaluation of the biological properties of plant material
is to prepare an extract of the ground, dried, plant part. In a way this presents
a dilemma. The active ingredient, if present, usually exists in only a small
amount and may he completely hidden by a mass of inactive constituents. Since
at this stage its chemical and physical properties are as yet unknown, it
is impossible to devise a selective extraction procedure. One possibility
is to use a series of selected solvents designed to remove sub-stances based
on their different solubility properties. Such a scheme starts with a fat
solvent such as hexane, and is followed by increasingly polar ones until the
final extract is made with water, either alone or with added acid or base.
The objection to this method is that it necessitates the testing of a minimum
of five or six fractions for each plant sample and would consequently overload
completely the usual testing facilities of the biologists. As a compromise,
the common practice it to make a cold and a hot extraction with methanol and
then with water. These are combined and evaporated to dryness in a vacuum
at a temperature not exceeding 4o°C. This requires the biological evaluation
of only one sample, but it is completely recognized that activities present
in only trace amounts will be missed altogether.
extracts are biologically screened in essentially the same systems as are
synthetic compounds. They are tested in as many varied ways as material, time,
and personnel permit, regardless of the nature of the activity for which the
plant may originally have been obtained. Frequently, an activity, if found
at all, bears little or no relation to that which the plant is reputed to
contain. The first step in the biological screening of an extract is usually
to administer it parenterally in a relatively high dose to a small laboratory
animal such as a mouse. The chances are that if it produces no effect, it
does not contain a potential drug and thus may be eliminated. If symptoms
are produced, observation of them together with the results of an autopsy
may give clues for further investigation along specific lines. These include
a study of the effect of the extract on the circulatory system, on the central
nervous system, on various isolated tissues including the heart, in selected
endocrinological situations, on blood sugar and blood cholesterol levels,
and so forth. In the field of microbiology the effect of the extract on various
bacteria, molds and other fungi, parasites, vi-ruses, sarcomas, and so forth,
are evaluated. Thus, as far as is feasible, each extract is thoroughly investigated
for any activity which may be of medicinal interest. Unfortunately, very few
give positive results.
activity is found, it is then the chemist's task to isolate the chemical individual
responsible for this particular effect. This is highly desirable for a number
of reasons. The use of medicinal plants in their natural state, or as crude
extracts, presents several difficulties. The actual content of the drug may
vary with both the locality and the season in which the plant is gathered.
As the active principles of many plants are powerful poisons when taken in
excess, the dangers of prescribing drugs of uncertain origin are obvious.
Equally, the patient may suffer if the drug is of lower activity than usual.
Then too, the plant may contain variable amounts of other substances which
have only harmful effects. These difficulties can, of course, be overcome
by means of suitable biological control tests, but they have the disadvantage
that they are rarely capable of high ac-curacy and are usually time-consuming
plants contain a great number of inactive substances, and it is the chemist's
problem to separate the active ingredient from these materials by taking advantage
of some unique physical or chemical property of the drug. For example, water-soluble
substances can be removed from those predominately soluble in fat solvents
by shaking the extract in a mixture of the two appropriate solvents. The two
liquids, each containing those substances predominately soluble in them, form
into distinct layers and thus can he mechanically separated. The ultimate
of this process is the countercurrent distribution technique in which even
slight differences in the solubility of various components of a mixture with
reference to appropriately chosen solvent pairs is employed. If the active
material is acidic or basic in nature, it can be readily removed from the
many inert neutral compounds present by making use of this property. Differences
in absorbability on inert substances can be used in the many chromatographic
separation methods which are now avail-able. It should be kept in mind, however,
that no matter what procedure or combination of procedures is used for the
ultimate isolation, every fractionation step must be carefully followed with
biological tests until such time as the chemical
of the drug are ascertained with certainty. Only then can a chemical assay
be substituted without fear of being misled.
the pure material available, extended biological tests can be performed in
a more meaningful manner, and the efficacy of the drug evaluated under more
critical conditions. Its chronic and acute toxicity is measured, its side
effects determined, and so forth, so that finally a decision can be made as
to whether human clinical studies would be safe and warranted. The introduction
of a new drug, whether of botanical or synthetic origin, depends upon the
results of hundreds of carefully controlled clinical cases. This is the ultimate
test, and of the small number of compounds that actually reach this stage,
few survive. It usually takes at least two years from the time the first plant
extract is pre-pared until the pure substance has passed all of the many rigid
requirements necessary for marketing. It also involves the work of many scientists
and the expenditure of considerable sums of money. Although discouragingly
few of the thousands of plants investigated ever result in a useful product,
it is still worthwhle doing if but only one of this number succeeds in aiding
in the treatment of disease.
scientific as well as for practical reasons, it is desirable to know the exact
chemical constitution of any new drug. This problem of structure elucidation
is one of the most interesting and challenging to the chemist. An elemental
analysis yields data from which an empirical formula is first calculated.
The nature of the ultraviolet and infrared absorption of the substance gives
valuable information as to the structure and functional groups of the compound.
Degradation studies break the molecule down by controlled methods into recognizable
pieces from which an original structure can be reconstituted in such a way
that it con-forms with all of the known chemical and physical properties of
the new drug. The ultimate confirmation of the structural proposal is its
synthesis by an unambiguous route. This also frequently provides a more economical
method for the preparation of the product as witnessed by the fact that practically
all plant derived drugs are now made synthetically.
knowledge of the chemical structure permits the chemist to prepare modifications
of the original drug and to synthesize related substances so that the important
relationship between activity and chemical structure can be studied. Frequently,
it is possible in this way to accentuate certain desirable biological properties
of the substance and at the same time to de-emphasize some of the compound's
unwanted side reactions. The net result of these chemical transformations
is often a more efficacious drug which has increased usefulness in a greater
number of patients. Plant derived drugs have long provided many of the fundamental
stimuli for new synthetic medicinals, cocaine and morphine being examples.
Actually, the most widely-used drug of all, aspirin, was modeled on the natural
product salicin derived from the bark of willow and poplar trees and long-used
for the relief of rheumatic and neuralgic pains.
on medicinal plants has still a long way to go. Estimates indicate there are
some 350,000 species, and many of them may produce useful substances. So far,
relatively few plants have been thoroughly explored for therapeutic possibilities.
Plant extracts have just begun to be screened during the last few years in
two of the most important areas of medicine, viral infections and, what may
be related, cancer. Already some promising results have been reported as illustrated
by the action of some of the alkaloids of Vinca rosea in the treatment of
certain leukemias. It is to be hoped that plant drugs may succeed where synthetic
medicinals have as yet failed.
E., AND M. LEDERER. 1955. Chromatography. Elsevier Publishing Co. New York.
AND COMPANY. 1960. The Merck index. 7th ed. Merck and Co. Rahway, New Jersey.
S. B., JR. 1962. The search for natural sources of pharmaceutical
Jour. Indiana State Med. Assoc. 55: I040—1043. RAFFAUF, R. F. 1960.
Plants as sources of new drugs. Econ. Botany 14:
G. H., I. S. JOHNSON, M. GORMAN, AND N. NEUSS. 1962. Current
of research on the alkaloids of Vinca rosea Linn. (Catharanthus roseus G.
Don). Jour. Pharmaceutical Sci. 51: 707—720.
M. E. 196o. Dioscorea—Steroidal sapugenins and derived steroidal hormones.
Amer. Perfumer Aromat. 75: 63-73.
J. R. 1954. Countercurrent distribution In: Organic analysis, II. Intcrscience
Publishers. New York.
R. a, H. W. YOUNGKEN, E. SCHLIITLER, AND J. A. SCHNEIDER.
Rauwolfia: Botany, pharmacognosy, chemistry and pharmacology. Little, Brown
and Co. Boston.
life of Palestine. MICHAEL ZOHARY. i–vi + 262 pp. 1962. The Ronald Press
Company, New York. $8.00.
if set down in southern California, would cover the area extending from Yuma
to Santa Barbara, in its long direction, and from San Diego to the Joshua
Tree National Monument in the other dimension. Oriented more properly, and
set in its appropriate latitudinal position, Palestine would lie between Oceanside,
California on the north, and Vizcaino Bay, Baja California on the south. This
comparison makes a fairly good point of reference for us relative to the vegetation
and climate of Palestine which range from extreme desert in the south and
southeast to broad-leafed evergreen oak forest in the north and northwest.
The chaparral of California would appear to be more extensive than its counterpart,
the garrigue, or sclerophyllous shrub vegetation of Palestine, and the evergreen
oak forests correspondingly more extensive. Climatically, of course, there
is a strong parallel, with wet winters and dry summers, with rainfall (strongly
influenced by altitude) decreasing southward and eastward.
certain respects one can go further into comparisons with southern California
plant life. There is a remarkable similarity between the principal evergreen
oak of Palestine. Quercus calliprinos, and the live oaks of California. The
presence of various common genera—Cupressus, Rhamnus, Arbutus, Salvia,
Prosopis—would help to make the California botanist feel at home there.
On the other hand, the common dominance of genera such as Pistacia immediately
brings out the decided and expected floristic distinction.
the botanist who, like the reviewer, has only a passing
with the vegetation of California, the descriptions and illustrations in Dr.
Zohary's book constantly bring up familiar pictures: from live oak woodlands,
open deciduous oak (Quercus ithaburensis) woods, open pine (Pinus halapensis)
stands, and brush land to barren desert hammadas of desert pavement with desert
shrubs and small trees in the draws. The book covers soils, climate, flora,
vegetation, ecology of desert plants, and man's relation to vegetation. Unfortunately
there is no glossary.
flora is discussed first from the point of view of phytogeographical elements:
the Mediterranean element, the Saharo-Sindian element, the Irano-Turanian
element, the Eurosiberian element, and the Sudanean element. Then the phytogeographical
territories of Palestine, largely based on these, are presented and shown
on a map. Endemics, vicariism, ecotypic variation, and disjunct areas are
considered. The history of the flora is described in the same straightforward,
scholarly fashion as the rest of the book. Either the history of the Palestinian
flora is not as well known, or as exiting as the history of the southern California
flora, or perhaps Dr. Zohary lacks the imagination and flair for paleobotanical
writing characteristic of some of our California botanists.
chapters on vegetation are descriptive, but so much depends on the reader's
knowledge of the flora that the average reader (botanist) will find himself
frequently swamped with species names. Vegetation is nicely classified into
orders, alliances, and associations, usually with their proper endings according
to the Braun-Blanquet system, something we mostly refuse to do in this country.
book is a scholarly work resulting from the gathering together of Dr. Zohary's
own field research and that of other botanists who have worked in Palestine.
As his last chapter so admirably makes clear, man has so influenced the native
vegetation of the region for so many years that it is now quite fragmentary.
It is fortunate that Dr. Zohary has pieced together the remaining parts and
has put the results in print to perpetuate the record.—MURRAY F. BUELL,
Rutgers-The State University.
and evolution of fossil plants. THEODORE DELEVORYAS. 1-1X + 189 pp. illus.
1962. Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York. $4.50.
small book is one of a series being published under the heading of Biology
Studies. Each book, as the publisher states, is not intended to be a treatise,
but rather will undertake the task of very briefly summarizing significant
information in a given field, and interpreting it in light of current research.
author has succeeded in preparing a brief and extremely useful survey of paleobotanical
contributions to the understanding of plant evolution and morphology. Admittedly
the brevity has necessitated the omission of references to many genera and
species. However, the genera which are discussed are well chosen, concisely
described, and, in most cases, illustrated with photographs or excellent drawings.
The subject matter is presented in thirteen chapters that vary from 3 to 41
pages in length.
chapter one, "Introduction," the forms of preservation of plant material,
the conditions for fossilization, and the techniques used in the preparation
of material for study are defined and discussed. Literature citations at the
end of the chapter direct the reader to important publications wherein procedures
used in the various paleobotanical techniques are given in detail. A geologic
timetable is also incorporated in this chapter for convenient use when references
to geologic periods are made in succeeding chapters.
chapter two, "Nonvascular plants," the author clearly points out that on the
basis of the fossil record little can be concluded concerning evolution within
this group of plants, for most of the fossil forms show little difference
in morphological types when compared with extant forms. The lead sentence
in the discussion of the Chlorophyta, i.e., "The green algae, the group from
which the higher green plants originated ...," is perhaps too dogmatic. It
should be qualified in order to conform with chapter three, and the third
paragraph in chapter thirteen, where it is made clear that the Chlorophyta
are chosen as the most likely source from which land vascular plants arose.
The concept of the monophyletic origin of land vascular plants is well presented,
and the supporting arguments are outlined in chap-ter three which is accordingly
titled, "The appearance of land vascular plants."
the chapters that follow, the members of the Division Tracheophyta are treated
in the systematic order usually encountered in morphology texts. Characteristics
of typical as well as atypical members of the Psilophytales are summarized
in chapter four, "Subdivision Psilopsida," and an excellent point is made
of the heterogeneity of this group. The Lycopsida and Sphenopsida, chapters
five and six respectively, receive an excellent coverage in the limited space
devoted to them. Chapters seven through ten represent over one-third of the
text. They deal in sequence with the Class Pterophyta, the various avenues
of evolution of the seed-habit, the Class Cycadophyta, and the problematical
cycadophytes. The author's interest in the Pterophyta and Cycadophyta is well
known through his several publications on members of these groups. This interest,
coupled with the fact that a large part of paleobotanical research has dealt
with intensive studies of these groups, results in a discourse that would
appear to he rather lengthy for a text of this size. However, the space is
justifiably and excellently used. The Class Coniferophyta is treated in a
little over twice the space devoted to the Class Angiospermophyta. This difference
reflects the status of our knowledge of morphological trends in these important
groups. Though the origins of both the coniferophytes and the angiosperms
are still unknown, the fossil record has yielded better evidence of evolutionary
trends in the conifers than it has for the angiosperms. The evolution of the
reproductive structures in the Coniferales is well summarized by the author,
and is based largely upon the classical works of Rudolf Florin. The final
chapter, "Summary and conclusions," contains a remarkably good condensation
of present day concepts held by most paleobotanists concerning the evolution
of a land flora and the evolution of single elements within the flora.
chapter, excepting the last, is followed by references which will lead the
reader to more detailed descriptions of the plants discussed in the text.
Among the references, too, are papers dealing with the concepts of evolution
of various floras. The book is well indexed.
book is to be highly commended as supplemental reading material for courses
in plant morphology, as a book for the student of evolution, and as an example
of the author's consistent high quality of work.—FRANCIS M. HUEBER,
to the Editor
am distressed by the inadequate preparation of students, mostly graduates
of biology and botany departments, who arrive in graduate school with the
desire to study plant physiology or plant biochemistry, but without an adequate
background in mathematics, physics, and chemistry. Some readers of the Plant
Science Bulletin may be able to help correct this lamentable hiatus in undergraduate
move freely along the highway of modern plant physiology, students need a
solid understanding of physical chemistry. For the student who knows he is
heading for graduate study in physiology or biochemistry, physical chemistry
should obviously be taken as an undergraduate. But the principal problem lies
in the advising of students only generally oriented toward botanical or biological
sciences. In many otherwise reputable institutions a student may earn a B.
A. or even an M. A. in botany without having a single course in college mathematics
or physics. Such a student, wishing later to enter physiology, would require
no less than three consecutive years making up undergraduate courses.
am not suggesting that every taxonomist should take advanced organic and every
morphologist, thermodynamics, but a college catalog is misleading when a curriculum
that does not include calculus is labelled "botany." The student following
a curriculum without calculus, without physics, or without organic chemistry,
is not preparing for work in physiology or biochemistry. The curriculum may
adequately prepare him for specialized areas of botany, but not for botany
as a general field.
appear to be two solutions to this problem in operation in American colleges:
one is to train all undergraduate biologists for molecular biology. The other
is to pro-vide two tracks in undergraduate biology: one more descriptive and
one more quantitative. In a leading Eastern institution adoption of a two-track
biology curriculum was followed by a doubling of the number of undergraduate
the very least, advisers should recognize the serious disservice done to students
when they are not advised of the requirements for study in the quantitative
and functional areas of the plant sciences.—C. A. PRICE, Rutgers—The
Joseph Francis Rock, the well known plant explorer, died in Honolulu on December
7, 1962, at the age of 79. He was the last of the many Western plant explorers
who have brought back such a wealth of scientific treasures from China and
adjacent Tibet. He will be remembered the world over for his many contributions,
not only in botany, but also in linguistics, philology, history, geography,
and anthropology—for he was a man of wide interests, great talents,
and broad vision, and was widely known in many countries.
is not the purpose of this brief note to sketch the life of this outstanding
botanist, explorer, and interpreter of a vanished culture. That has been ably
done in the News-letter of the Hawaiian Botanical Society (z(I) :19631, in
an obituary by Alvin K. Chock, which will be republished in an early issue
of Taxon. Rather, it is my purpose here to pay tribute to this unusual person,
whom it has been my privilege to know since the 'zo's, because of our common
interest in the botany of China.
most outstanding characteristic was his breadth of vision. His labors were
for the fullness of his projects, not for their adaptation to his needs or
to the needs of the moment. Thus he built for the future, whether he was creating
a herbarium in Hawaii, or gathering rare manuscripts in the distant parts
of China, or preparing bird skins for the U. S. National Museum. His work
was thorough and unstinting, and was performed with far-seeing objectives.
He had no patience with trivial things or limited goals and was intolerant
of pettiness, meanness and arrogance. For these reasons he was considered
by many to be too impatient and impulsive. But his record of accomplishment
on his numerous difficult explorations attests to a fine balance between contempt
for trivial obstacles and unbounded patience and determination in the face
of major ones. Who, without patience, for example, could conquer the pictorially
recorded Na-ki language, almost unrelated to any other language on earth,
and complete a dictionary, really a veritable encyclopedia, of this tongue—his
last literary contribution before his death?
writings, which will be fully listed by Alvin Chock, are basic and enduring,
even those which appeared in the National Geographic Magazine. In the botanical
field his greatest production concerned his first and last field of endeavor,
Hawaii. Although he aspired to see a full comprehensive flora of that region,
he only set the standard by making two contributions to such a work. His other
writings there were on other aspects of botany, such as the trees, always
with examples of his superb photographs. He pre-fenced the ficads and forests
to the writing table. In China his great botanical contribution was through
collecting plant specimens, seconded by his marvelous photographs. This activity,
however, gradually gave way, in part, at least, to linguistic, historical,
and cultural studies of the neglected
kingdom of Yunnan and its people. He knew this culture and language was doomed
to vanish and it was his objective to preserve its record for posterity in
the form of the numerous priceless original Na-ki manuscripts now in the Library
of Congress. Even when he was forced by the adversities of war to leave, and
his manuscript of twelve years' preparation was lost, he returned to do it
over again, only to be driven out a second time a few years later by the Communists.
He never returned.
of Dr. Rock's great characteristics was his generosity and the extent of his
humanity. These must have been the foundations of the success of his journeys
in distant places full of great hazard, where he was dependent on local officials,
guides, carriers, and helpers. These people do not bring the small, petty,
and unkind traveler through hardships and dangers which they all share, and
not only once, but a second time a few years later. He held the infant Dalai
Lama on his knee—one of his many fond memories. He suffered for the
people, especially the Na-id
who helped and protected him when they were op-pressed by their Chinese overlords.
He was a trial and a tribulation to many officials who had to supply his needs
in the field, and who, through lack of imagination or of knowledge of the
conditions he faced and through their adherence to customary ways of procedure,
put obstacles in his way. His independence of mind and lone-eagle tendencies
often made him part company with officialdom.
love of the wilderness, the freedom, and the grandeur of the mountains of
western China made him once wish to die with his eyes on the Lichiang Snow
Range in Yunnan. This he doubtless would have done, with the aid of the Na-ki
friends, but for the changes in China which forced him out in 1949. In recent
years he spent his summers in Europe and his winters in the States, or, after
1955, in Honolulu, steadily at work recording and publishing for posterity
from his storehouse of unique information. As noted, these writings were always
of a permanent character. Al-though he long considered a book of personal
anecdotes and experiences, which we called his "funnybook," he never could
be prevailed upon to write it. That was always some-thing for the future.
His last Christmas card, received shortly before word of his death, told of
the completion of his dictionary and of his expectation to return next summer
to Germany on invitation of the government there.
his many works and in the warm place which he created in the hearts of those
who knew him, Joseph Francis Rock has left much for those of us who remain,
and for others who will come after US.—EGBERT H. WALKER, Takoma Park,
H. Graves of Wallingford, Connecticut, Curator Emeritus of the Brooklyn Botanic
Garden and consultant to The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station on
the chestnut blight disease, died on December 31, 1962 in Meriden, Connecticut.
Dr. Graves was 83. A native of New Haven, he graduated from Yale in 1900 and
received his Ph.D. degree there in 1907. After teaching at Yale and at Connecticut
College, he became in 1921 Curator of Public Instruction at the Brooklyn Botanic
Garden. When he became consultant at the Connecticut Experiment Station in
1947 he also continued his association with the U. S. Department of Agriculture,
which he served in varying capacities over a period of 50 years.
wrote more than 200 papers on botanical subjects including an excellent book
titled, "Illustrated guide to trees and shrubs." In recent years many of his
papers dealt with breeding disease-resistant chestnut trees. Of the American
chestnut he wrote in 1914: "The most hopeful indications for chestnut in North
America in the future lie along the lines of breeding experiments. . . Work
of this kind is extremely valuable and, although slow in yielding results,
may eventually prove to be the only means of continuing the existence in our
land of a greatly esteemed tree."
1930, Dr. Graves undertook the line of work he had suggested 16 years earlier.
Writing in Horticulture in October, 1962, he reported that he and his associates
had made more than 250 interspecific combinations of chestnuts. A few of these
combinations with desired characteristics have now withstood blight inoculations
for about 25 years and will soon be released for commercial propagation. Thus,
although seemingly "slow in yielding results," the work envisioned by Dr.
Graves in 1914 gives promise of continuing the existence, in modified form,
of a greatly esteemed tree.
All of us who knew Dr. Graves will sorely miss this kindly gentleman. He was
a botanist in the broadest sense of the word. His unquenchable thirst for knowledge
and insatiable enthusiasm for all that was new or unexplored was a constant
inspiration to those about him. He had served as an editor for Biological Abstracts
since 1922, was President of the Torrey Botanical Club in 1939, and was a member
of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Botanical Society
of America, and Phytopathological Society.—RICHARD A. JAYNES, The Connecticut
Agricultural Experiment Station.
Wendell Holmes Camp, Professor of Botany and Head of the Department of Botany
at the University of Connecticut, died at his home after an illness of several
months on February 4, 1963. His death terminates a career of outstanding public
service and widely-recognized pioneering contributions to botany.
Camp was born in Dayton, Ohio, 22 February 1904. He received his early training
as a biologist and geologist at Otterbein College. His advanced botanical
training was conducted at Ohio State University where he obtained the doctorate
in 1932. His professional career was unusually varied and marked by a sensitivity
and devotion to the development of both the theoretical and the applied aspects
of botany. Dr. Camp had held teaching and advisory positions at Otterbein
College, Ohio State University, East-ern Illinois State Teachers College,
of Pennsylvania, and, since 1954, was Head of the Department of Botany at
the University of Connecticut. He held important positions at the New York
Botanical Garden, was Curator of Experimental Botany and Horticulture at the
Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia from 1949 to 1954 and Director
of the Taylor Memorial Arboretum from 1951 to 1954. His researches on the
Ericaceae brought him world-wide recognition among botanists. As a result
of his studies, he was honored in 1957 by an invitation to address the London
Conference marking the centenary of the publication at Charles Dar-win's "Origin
of species." During World War II, Dr. Camp directed government sponsored investigations
in Haiti where he developed emergency rubber plantations. Later he was sent
to Ecuador as a Special Agent of the U.S.D.A. to search for native sources
of quinine to replace Asian supplies cut off by the war. He contributed his
specialized knowledge to such diverse projects as the breeding of blueberries,
azaleas, and rhodendrons, the commercial production of various drug plants,
and the toxicity of industrial wastes in irrigation waters.
Camp's many publications confirm his devotion to public service and to his
profession. Not only had he published over 70 technical papers in botany,
but he made numerous contributions toward a better understanding of plants
by the public. He was co-author of the National Geographic Society book "The
world is your garden," he wrote for the Encyclopedia Britannica, and published
many articles for popular and semi-technical journals. Dr. Camp served in
administrative, advisory, and editorial capacities for International Botanical
Congresses and for several botanical societies. He was a past-president of
the Torrey Botanical Club and the American Society of Plant Taxonomists, and
founder-editor of The taxonomic index. Special recognition of his public service
came first in 1951 when he was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Science
by Otterhein College, and later in 1962, he was presented with the Distinguished
Service Award of the New York Botanical Garden.
of us will remember "Red" Camp for the fellow-ship we enjoyed with him, and
the many stimulating and often heated discussions held in his company. Wendell
Camp was one of the most colorful botanical personages of the last decades,
and those of us who knew him will sorely miss his continuing friendship.
AMERICAN SOCIETY OF PLANT TAXONOMISTS has elect-
Ira L. Wiggins of Stanford University, President for 1963, and Arthur Cronquist
of the New York Botanical Garden has been elected to serve a seven-year term
on the Council of the Society. Officers appointed by the Council are: Charles
B. Heiser, Jr. (Indiana University), Chairman of the Council; Lawrence R.
Heckard (University of California, Berkeley), Secretary; Richard W. Pohl (Iowa
State University), Treasurer.
Council also appointed Peter H. Raven (Stanford University), Editor-in-Chief
of Brittonia; H. W. Rickett (New York Botanical Garden), Managing Editor of
Brittonia; Constantine J. Alexopoulos (University of Texas) and Cornelius
H. Muller (University of California, Santa Barbara), to serve on the editorial
board of Brittonia; A. E. Radford (University of North Carolina), Representative
of the Society on the editorial board of the American Journal of Botany; Richard
S. Cowan (U. S. National Museum) and A. C. Smith (U. S. National Museum),
Representatives of the Society on the Council of the AAAS; Reed C. Rollins
(Harvard University), Representative of the Society on the Governing Board
of the AIBS; David D. Keck (National Science Foundation), Representative of
the Society on the National Research Council.
SOCIEDAD BOTANICA DE MEXICO announces that its Second Mexican Botanical Congress
will be held September 17-20, 1963 at the Universidad Aut6noma de San Luis
Potosi in the city of San Luis Potosi, Mexico. The Society will welcome attendance
and participation by anyone interested in the botany of Mexico. There will
be one or more field trips accompanying the meetings. Further information
may be obtained from the secretary, Biol. Fernando Medellin, II Congresso
Mexicano de Botānica, Apartado Postal No. 458, San Luis Potosi, S. L.
PALYNOLOGICAL SERVICE of the Swedish Natural
Research Council is associated with the Palynological Laboratory, Nybodagatan
5, Solna, Sweden. This service was established to assist scientists and scientific
institutions concerned with pollen slides, diagnoses of pollen grains and
spores, photomicrography, and microtechnicalpalynological questions. Pollen
slides are for sale at rates varying between 2 and lc) Swedish crowns in Scandinavia,
and 4 and 20 Swedish crowns outside of Scandinavia. Charges for photomicrography
and other services depend upon the circumstances in each special case. Ordinary
pollen analyses are not regularly carried out, but help may be given in the
identification of pollen grains and spores.
Fossil, FLORAS OF ANTARCTICA by Edna Plumstead was published in December 1962.
Orders or inquiries for this illustrated volume may be sent to Sir Vivian
E. Fuchs, The Trans-Antarctic Expedition, 22 Gayfere Street, London S. W.
specimens from the GREENE AND NIEUWLAND HERBARIA of the University of Notre
Dame are now avail-able on loan to botanists. The usual period of loan is
six months, subject to renewal upon request. Dr. Robert P. Mc-Intosh, Curator,
has noted that loans will normally be made to any research investigator. Students
requiring loans for research will need to apply through the director of their
research, the curator of an affiliated herbarium, or a responsible staff member
of their institution.
The ANNUAL SUMMER CONFERENCE OF THE BIOLOGY DEPARTMENT OF BROOKHAVEN NATIONAL
LABORATORY will take place June 3-5, 1963 and will be devoted to the topic,
AND DIFFERENTIATION. Those planning to attend should notify Dr. J. P. Miksche
by May io, 1963 addressing
at the Department of Biology, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, L. I.,
newly created BONSAI SOCIETY OF GREATER NEW YORK
been established at the New York Botanical Garden. Presently, membership is
open only to residents of metropolitan New York City, but future plans call
for forming a national and eventually international organization. In-formation
may be secured by writing to the Society at the Garden, Bronx Park, New York
58, New York.
committee on the DARBARER PRIZE OF THE BOTANICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA will accept
nominations for an award to he announced at the annual meeting of the Society
at Amherst, Massachusetts, in 1963. Under the terms of the bequest, the award
is to be made for "meritorious work in the study of the algae." Persons not
members of the Botanical Society are also eligible for the award, but at present,
the award will be limited to residents of North America. The committee will
base its judgment primarily on the papers published by the nominee during
the last two full calendar years previous to the closing date for nominations.
Only papers published in the English language will be considered. Nominations
for the 1963 award accompanied by a statement of the merits of the case and
by reprints of the publications supporting the candidacy should be sent to
the Chairman of the Committee, Dr. Jack E. Myers at the University of Texas,
in order to be received by June 1, 1963. The value of the Prize for 1963 will
depend on the income from the trust fund, but is expected to be about $250.00.
OSWALD Tippo, Provost of the University of Colorado, has been appointed Executive
Dean at New York University effective June 1, 1963. Dr. Tippo, a past-president
of the Botanical Society and former editor of the American Journal of Botany,
will have charge of the Washington Square College of Arts and Sciences, the
College of Arts and Sciences at University Heights, and the Graduate School
of Arts and Sciences. He will also be a professor of biology. Tippo will spend
the first few months in his new position as assistant to Chancellor George
D. Stoddard before assuming the newly created post of Executive Dean in September.
the past year, PROFESSOR CARL L. WITHNER, Brooklyn College and Brooklyn Botanic
Garden, was on' sabbatical leave as a Guggenheim Fellow. He has returned from
three months traveling in South America where he collected orchids, and visited
a variety of orchid collections in Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia.
During July, 1962, Professor Withner also spent three weeks in Mexico. Presently,
Professor Withner is on leave from Brooklyn College to teach plant physiology
and general biology at Stanford University. He has recently been promoted
to full professor at Brooklyn College.
EDMUND H. FULLING was awarded the Mary Soper Pope Medal at recent meetings
of the AAAS in Philadelphia. The Medal is awarded from time to time "._for
noteworthy and distinguished accomplishment in the field of plant sciences."
It is administered by the Trustees of the Cranbrook Institute of Science.
The citation to Dr. Fulling reads, "This year, 1962, it is our privilege to
designate Dr. Edmund Henry Fulling, editor of The Botanical Review, and to
draw the attention of our colleagues in science to the career of a dedicated
and perceptive man who has served the scientists of his time in an exceptional
manner." Dr. Fulling is Honorary Curator at the New York Botanical Garden,
and founder of both The Botanical Review and Economic Botany.
During February and March, the EDITOR, in company with DR. RICHARD H. EYDE
and MR. EDWARD S. AYENSU of the Division of Plant Anatomy, Smithsonian Institution,
spent six weeks in Panama collecting specimens of petrified woods from Tertiary
deposits on the Azuero Peninsula. Besides fossils, conventional botanical specimens
were gathered together with wood samples for deposit in the National Collections.
EDWARD F. ANDERSON of Whitman College has been awarded a grant-in-aid for
study of the taxonomy of desert plants by the Henry E. Huntington Library
and Art Gallery.