Plant Science Bulletin archive

Issue: 2020 v66 No 1 SpringActions

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Bartram’s Garden: a legacy of Colonial 

American botany....p.16

BSA student reps share opportuni-

ties for students.... p. 38

BSA President Linda Watson 

on graduate education in the 

21st century.... p. 3

Workshops Advocating Traditional Ecological 

Knowledge at the Legislature in Guåhan

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Spring 2020 Volume 66 Number 1


Editorial Committee  

Volume 66

From the Editor


Welcome to 2020! As we kick off a new year, a new 

decade, and a new PSB editorial term, I am pleased 

to share my thoughts on the future of Plant Science 

Bulletin on page 13 of this issue. 

As you may know, every issue of Plant Science Bul-

letin can be found on our website https://botany.

org/PlantScienceBulletin/issues.php. While look-

ing through the issues from 1970, I was especially 

struck by Arthur Galston’s Address of the Retiring 

BSA President, from which I have included an 

excerpt in the “From the Archives” section. His 

words about the role of plant scientists in world af-

fairs seem especially timely today, and I encourage 

you to read his remarks in full at https://botany.


The goal of PSB is to keep a record of the important 

issues facing botanists, and we continue the tra-

dition of publishing articles developed out of the 

lecture given by each BSA President. In this issue, 

you can find Linda Watson’s remarks from Botany 

2019 on the effectiveness of graduate education for 

training students for 21


 Century careers. This is a 

must read for anyone who is training students. Fur-

ther, in the Policy Section, you will find the report 

of the 2019 Botanical Advocacy Leadership Grant, 

Else Demeulenaere, on her work with the legis-

lature of Guåhan (Guam). Moving back in time, 

from the 21


 to the 18


 Century, Marsh Sundberg’s 

article discusses the history of Bartram’s garden 

and its place in the context of Colonial and Early 

America. These articles remind us that there are 

many ways to effect change in the world.  It is safe 

to say that botany and botanists have always played 

an important role in the public sphere.  

Shannon Fehlberg 

( 2020)


Research and Conservation 

Desert Botanical Garden 

Phoenix, AZ 85008

David Tank 


Department of Biological 


University of Idaho 

Moscow, ID 83844

James McDaniel 


Botany Department 

University of Wisconsin 


Madison, WI  53706

Seana K. Walsh 


National Tropical Botanical 


Kalāheo, HI 96741

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Is Graduate Education Keeping Pace with the Dynamic Nature of 21st Century 

         STEM Careers? - Remarks from Botany 2019 by President Linda Watson ................ 3

Public Policy Quarterly: Workshops Advocate Traditional Ecological Knowledge 

         at the Legislature in Guåhan .................................................................................................................... 9

Plant Science Bulletin

: A Vision for 2020 ..................................................................................................... 13


Bartram’s Garden: A Legacy of Colonial American Botany .............................................................. 16


How do BSA members assist or direct people interested in plant careers? ......................... 34


Update on Botany Conference, Student Opportunities, and More! .............................................. 38


In Memoriam - Robert B. Kaul ............................................................................................................................ 40

In Memoriam - Michael S. Kinney ..................................................................................................................... 42

In Memoriam - Lee W. Lenz ................................................................................................................................. 43




July 27 - 31

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PSB 66 (1) 2020        


Special Notice Regarding the 

Plant Science Bulletin

The articles in this issue of Plant Science Bulletin were written and 

prepared in early 2020---just as the COVID-19 pandemic spread across 

the planet. In an effort to control the spread of the virus, universities 

and institutions were forced to quickly adapt to a world of stay-at-home 

orders, disrupting the teaching, learning, research projects, and even 

occupations of countless students and members of our community.

The next issue of the PSB will look into the effects of the pandemic on 

our members---the adaptation of online teaching and learning, concerns 

and opportunities for the near future, and expectations for the 2020-2021 

school year. Stay tuned to the BSA social media feeds on Facebook and 

Twitter, as well as the PSB home page, for more information on the issue 

this summer. 

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With the career landscape for Ph.D.s 

continuing to shift away from academia, 

students and universities alike are asking 

if the current model of graduate training is 

sufficient to meet the needs and demands 

for a workforce in the private sector and in 

government agencies. While STEM doctorates 

have been trained to have extensive technical 

and critical thinking skills and they acquire a 

deep and broad knowledge of their discipline, 

to what extent are these skills transferable 

and are their professional skills sufficiently 

broad to successfully pursue careers outside of 

academia? The foci of this paper are to explore 

the: (1) educational pathways to the primary 

employment sectors that biologists generally 

pursue, (2) data available on the relative 

effectiveness of what may be labeled as the 

Is Graduate Education Keeping 

Pace with the Dynamic Nature of 

21st Century STEM Careers?

By Linda E. Watson  

Department of Plant Biology, 

Ecology, and Evolution 

Oklahoma State University 

Stillwater, OK 74074 

E-mail: linda.watson10@

traditional model in STEM under which most 

doctoral students are trained, and (3) relevant 

training and career resources available to 

faculty and students, respectively. This paper is 

not a detailed review of careers or professions 

in plant biology; instead, the goal is to raise 

awareness of the complex issues that students 

and faculty may face in understanding the 

various dimensions of skills needed for a 

diverse array of careers.





To better understand the employment 

trajectories of U.S. biology doctorates in 

general, the American Society for Cell Biology 

compiled data from several sources (Polka, 

2014 and references therein; https://

biology-phd-take-you/) and generated the 

following statistics that serve to illustrate 

the most prevalent career pathways. On 

average in the United States, a Ph.D. in any 

subdiscipline of biology requires seven 

years to complete, and only 1 in 12 of these 

graduates (8%) obtains a tenure-track 

Remarks from Botany 2019 by President-elect Linda Watson

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PSB 66 (1) 2020


position in academia—rendering tenure-

track faculty positions the alternative career 

path. Yet greater than 50% of biology doctoral 

students have academia as their career goal.

Of the 63% of doctoral biology students 

who complete their degrees, 70% accept 

postdoctoral research positions, which 

average four years in length with most 

doctorates completing more than one postdoc 

experience. Of these postdocs, approximately 

15% ultimately obtain a tenure-track faculty 

position. The remaining 85% of these postdocs 

primarily obtain research positions in industry 

and government, and to a lesser extent in non-

research, science-related jobs. Of the 30% of 

biology doctorates who do not work and train 

as a postdoc, approximately 20% obtain non-

tenure track positions in academia, and the 

remainder secure research or non-research 

positions or science-related jobs outside of 

academia. These data (Polka 2014) clearly 

illustrate that completing a postdoc is critical 

to obtaining an academic position on the 

tenure track; however, these summary data do 

not account for the occasional individual who 

successfully moved directly from a graduate 

program into a tenure-track position or for 

differences in types of U.S. institutions of higher 

education (e.g., top-tier research universities, 

primarily undergraduate institutions). The 

data also show that getting into industry and 

government research positions is possible 

with or without completing a postdoc; 

however, these data do not parse out the level 

of position the Ph.D. was hired into at the 

outset (e.g., principal investigator, lab director, 

technician). These data, combined with a 

recent paper (Langin, 2019) that reports for 

the first time that the private sector is now 

employing more biology doctorates than 

education, underscores the growing need for 

carefully training students for careers outside 

of academia, since this is where 90% of biology 

doctorates find employment. 

A survey by the American Association of 

Plant Biologists (ASPB) was conducted to 

specifically understand career goals of plant 

scientists (Binder, 2015 and references therein;

survey-summary-and-infographic/). These 

survey data are similar to those for biology 

doctorates (Polka, 2014) in that approximately 

50% of entering plant biology graduate 

students have a professional goal of obtaining 

a tenure-track faculty position at a top-tier 

research university, but only 25% report 

obtaining one (this figure is reported for at all 

career levels across generations and cohorts, 

so is not representative for recent doctorates). 

Careers forged outside of academia that were 

reported in this survey included government 

(37%) and industry research (25%), as well as 

non-profits (10%), science publishing (9%) 

and government policy (6%); the remaining 

10% to 12% reported jobs in a variety of non-

science careers. Approximately 200 of the 

800+ respondents for this survey were from 

the United States and included the primary 

specialties of the ASPB membership such as 

plant physiology, cell and molecular biology, 

genetics, and genomics, but also included 

a small subsample from plant systematics, 

ecology, and evolutionary biology. Because the 

Botanical Society of America (BSA) includes a 

larger proportion of the latter subset of plant 

biologists, it is difficult to draw meaningful 

conclusions for the entire BSA membership.

Because Ph.D.s are research degrees, it is 

not surprising that the majority of STEM 

doctorates pursue and obtain positions outside 

of academia in research, rather than in science 

publishing and government policy. This is 

true for biologists in general (Polka, 2014 

and references therein) and plant biologists 

specifically (Binder, 2015 and references 


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PSB 66 (1) 2020





In a study of gainfully employed STEM 

doctorates, Kuo and You (2017) explored 

three skillsets required to be a successful 

researcher as tenure-track faculty vs. those 

in government, private industry, and in non-

tenure track positions at universities. These 

skillsets included Technical, Interpersonal, 

and Communication Skills. To assess the 

alignment between graduate training and 

job preparation in research, these authors 

surveyed 3000 employees to determine which 

skills they felt they needed to perform well 

for their jobs and which of those skills they 

obtained while in their Ph.D. program. 

Technical Skills assessed in the survey 

included analyzing data, interpreting 

information, discipline specific knowledge, 

creative and innovative thinking, and quick 

learning. Their results indicated that the 

non-academic researchers felt they acquired 

adequate proficiency in all five skillsets, while 

the tenure-track researchers felt they did for all 

skills except creative and innovative thinking 

and ability to learn quickly. 

The Interpersonal Skills assessed in this survey 

included oral and written communication, 

teamwork, people management, and working 

with people outside of the organization. 

Ironically, the tenure-track faculty felt 

they needed additional training for all 

interpersonal skills assessed, while the 

researchers in industry, government, and 

those not on the tenure track felt they received 

adequate training in both written and oral 

communication, but needed more training in 

teamwork, people management, and working 

with people outside of the organization. 

For Day-to-Day Skills, all researchers felt they 

needed more training in project management, 

team management, vision and goal setting, 

and career planning and awareness, and to a 

lesser extent, decision making and problem 

solving. In contrast to a widely held view that 

faculty tend to mentor students primarily for 

tenure-track faculty positions, this study (Kuo 

and You, 2017) indicated that faculty advisors 

do an excellent job of training and mentoring 

doctoral STEM students in both the Technical 

and Interpersonal Skills required for research 

positions in government, private industry, and 

off the tenure track. However, all researchers, 

including tenure-track faculty, felt they needed 

better Day-to-Day Skillsets. It is important 

to note that this study (Kuo and You, 2017) 

focused solely on the employees’ perceptions 

of the alignment between their skills obtained 

in graduate school in STEM fields and those 

needed to perform well in their research jobs.  

Other studies focused on the employers’ needs 

(Council of Graduate Schools, 2012) and asked 

what skills they value in their employees, to 

which they uniformly responded strong 

communication skills in writing, speaking 

and presenting, cross-disciplinary and cross-

cultural communications, and project and 

personnel management. When considering 

STEM-specific deficiencies in job applicants 

and employees, employers voiced needs for 

employees to have stronger skills in data 

analytics, data sciences, statistics, computing 

abilities, genetics and genomics, cognitive 

computing, and information systems.

There have been few studies that specifically 

focused on the skills in the botanical sciences. 

One such survey (Sundberg et al., 2011) 

examined the perceptions among faculty 

advisors, graduate students, and employers in 

government and the private sector. From 1500 

responses, they found disconnects between 

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PSB 66 (1) 2020


the top ten perceived strengths identified 

by students and deficiencies identified by 

faculty and potential employers. Graduate 

students ranked their written communication 

skills as their top strength, whereas faculty 

and employers ranked this as their area in 

greatest need of improvement. Similar, but 

not identically ranked, disconnects were 

identified in problem-solving and verbal 

communication skills, where either employees 

or faculty advisors assessed these areas in 

need of improvement while students felt these 

were their strengths. This study also assessed 

disconnects for skills relevant to some BSA 

members, such as knowledge in ecology and 

plant identification; students and mentors 

specializing in these areas might also consider 



The Council of Graduate Schools (CGS, 2012) 

reported that the job market and the interests 

and needs of graduate students are among 

the primary driving forces behind graduate 

programs needing to provide additional 

training that goes beyond Technical Skills. 

This report lists several recommendations 

to develop more effective Professional 

Development programs to train students more 

broadly that include: (1) engaging employers 

to share their expertise with students on 

professional practices, and seeking input from 

employers on their needs to shape degree and 

course content, (2) placing alumni on advisory 

boards at the department and graduate 

school levels for greater input, (3) providing 

multiple means of delivery to students that 

may include online and in-person panels 

composed of alumni and employees, (4) 

integrating relevant skillsets and experiences 

with discipline-specific degree requirements 

to offer formal credentials (e.g., certificates), 

and (5) partnering with units from across 

campus to facilitate students obtaining 

broader knowledge they may need to meet 

their career goals (e.g., business, law, and/

or communications). This CGS report also 

reported several challenges to providing 

broader graduate training including limited 

resources, selection of content and faculty 

with that knowledge, lack of student interest 

and participation due to the time demands 

already placed on them, and, to a lesser extent, 

faculty buy-in. However, the CGS report 

also pointed out that graduate schools are 

making professional development a priority 

in response to the job market and student 

demand. Toward these goals, the National 

Institutes of Health funded 17 institutions 

through the BEST: Broadening Experiences 

in Scientific Training program http://www. that extends educational 

experiences through career development 

training, professional development, and 

experiential learning (e.g., internships, 

visiting another lab) so that career tracks may 

better envisioned to include administration 

and government, law and science policy, and 

science communications.  These NIH-funded 

BEST institutions have developed webinars 

and toolkits and made these resources 

available to the public online (http://www. 

The National Academies of Sciences 

(2018) made several recommendations 

that include requiring greater transparency 

from institutions by publishing graduation 

and job placement rates, and rewarding 

faculty for excellence in mentoring. One 

recommendation in this report was to 

decouple graduate programs from faculty 

careers, in that graduate students are integral 

to faculty research programs, which may or 

may not entirely support the student’s training 

and ultimate success in their career. Given that 

student research at most U.S. institutions is 

largely supported by federally funded research 

grants, it is hard to envision that this will be 

easily implemented or accepted. Another 

recommendation made by this NAS report is to 

require all institutions to mandate a set of core 

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scientific and professional competencies that 

all Ph.D. STEM graduates must achieve. These 

include developing scientific and technological 

literacy, conducting original research, and 

developing leadership, communication, and 

professional competencies.

At a practical level, Lautz et al. (2018) 

outlined a model for multi-year curricula to 

prepare graduate students for diverse career 

pathways in STEM.  They suggested three 

tiers of professional development that include 

a foundational seminar early in the program, 

similar to what many graduate programs at the 

departmental level currently offer that provide 

exposure to some skills vital to the profession 

and the resources to navigate career pathways. 

They recommend a second tier of professional 

development comprised of specializations 

that focus on non-science career needs that 

could include communications training, and 

intensive exposure to business, policy, and/

or law. The third tier is a career capstone 

experience that may include an internship 

in a non-academic sector, a study-abroad 

experience, or a visiting research opportunity 

at another institution. This third tier also 

includes the application of professional skills 

in setting a career path, as well as developing a 

professional network.

One of the first steps in successful career 

planning is in recognizing one’s value by 

taking the time to assess personal skills, 

strengths and ideas (Jensen, 2018). This may 

be accomplished through an iterative process 

in developing an Individual Development 

Plan that starts with a detailed self-assessment, 

followed by career exploration, goal setting, 

and plan implementation. Some graduate 

programs are beginning to require students 

to develop individual development plans, 

in addition to the usual tasks of writing and 

defending research proposals, completing 

courses and passing comprehensive exams, 

and conducting original research that results in 

a defensible dissertation. A useful, interactive 

tool for creating an individual development 

plan can be found at


In summary, there are many resources 

available to faculty to improve the alignment 

of graduate training needed for today’s 

graduate students for them to acquire the skills 

needed for success in a variety of jobs outside 

of academia. These often include professional 

development programs at institutions at the 

graduate school level, as well as partnering 

with units across campus to provide students 

with broader training that make them highly 

competitive for their careers. In addition, 

there are many forums that discuss the gap 

between graduate training and expectations 

of employers. These include articles and career 

forums in publications such as The Chronicle 

of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, Nature, 

and Science. In addition, there are many that 

are discipline specific such as Frontiers in 

Ecology and the Environment and Plantae.


Binder, M. 2015. Plant Science Careers: 

Survey Summary and Infographic. American 

Society of Plant Biologists: ASPB Plant 

Science today.



Council of Graduate Schools and Education-

al Testing Service. 2012. Pathways Through 

Graduate School and into Careers, Princeton, NJ.

Jensen, D. G. 2018. Three key elements of 

a successful job search mindset. Science: 




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Kuo, M. and J. You. 2017. Explore the skills 

that can open career doors after your doctoral 

training. Science: Careers. https://www.sci-



Langin, K. 2019.  In a first, U.S. private sector 

employs nearly as many Ph.D.s as schools do. 

Science: Careers. https://www.sciencemag.



Lautz, L. K., D. H. McCay, C. T. Driscoll, R. 

L. Glas, K. M. Gutchess, A. J. Johnson, and G.

D. Millard. 2018. Preparing graduate students

for STEM careers outside academia.  Eos


National Academies of Sciences, Engineer-

ing, and Medicine. 2018. Graduate STEM 

Education for the 21st Century. Washington, 

DC: The National Academies Press. https://

Polka, J.  2014.  Where will a Biology PhD 

Take You? The American Society for Cell 

Biology: Careers, Emerging Voices. https://


Sundberg, M. D., P. DeAngelis, K. Havens, 

K. Holsinger, K. Kennedy, A. T. Kramer, R.

Muir, et al.  2011. Perceptions of strengths

and deficiencies: disconnects between gradu-

ate students and prospective employers. Bio-

Science 61: 133-138.




60 years ago:  

“At the end of 1959, George S. Avery, Jr., Harriet B. Creighton, and Paul B. Sears retired from 

the Editorial Board of Plant Science Bulletin. They had served on the Board since this publication was founded. 

The Botanical Society of America owes these members a debt of gratitude for their devotion and great service to 

the Bulletin during the past five years. Three new members were appointed to the Board as of January 1, 1960. 

They are Norman H. Boke, Elsie Quarterman, and Erich Steiner.”

 “New Editorial Board” PSB 6(1): 2

50 years ago:  

“What, in fact, are the ecological consequences of the widespread massive application of 

herbicides? With respect to Vietnam, it should be noticed that in 1968 approximately a million and a half acres 

of forested land and a quarter of a million acres of crop land were sprayed with an average of about three gallons 

per acre (or ca 27 lbs./acre) of chemical. This means that almost fifty million pounds of assorted herbicides were 

dumped on the countryside in that one year. Most of this was in the form of the phenoxyacetic acids; some was 

in the form of picloram; some, probably about three quarters of a million pounds, in the form of cacodylic acid.

It is frequently alleged that a single spray with a defoliating chemical, such as 2,4-D or 2,4,5-T, produces 

no permanent damage to a forested area. This, it seems to me, is a pious hope in view of the paucity of hard data 

available and recent observations on mangrove associations indicate extensive kill after one spray.”

[Galston provides several examples of the potential hazards to the environment and human health.]

“We must hope that such chemical warfare, committed in the name of the American people, will never 

again be employed. All American citizens, and scientists and botanists in particular, need to concern themselves 

with a practice that, in the eyes of some, is outside accepted international law.”

Galston, Arthur W. “Plants, People, and Politics” PSB 16(1): 1-7

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Most archipelagoes harbor unique ecosystems 

with high floristic and faunistic endemism 

that are tightly connected with the culture and 

language of indigenous people. Unfortunately, 

islands also suffer from increased habitat loss, 

high extinction rates, high invasive species 

numbers, and threats to traditional practices 

and languages. Guåhan (Guam) is the most 

southern island of the Mariana Archipelago 

in the northwestern Pacific Ocean and home 

to approximately 54 endemic terrestrial plant 

species (Costion et al., 2012). The island 

experienced several waves of colonization, 

which forcefully changed the way of life of the 

indigenous CHamoru people. In 2015, the U.S. 

Fish and Wildlife Service listed 15 plant species 

under the Endangered Species Act for Guåhan. 

One of these, Serianthes nelsonii or Håyun 

Lågu, has a single surviving seed-producing 

tree in a pristine primary limestone forest in 

northern Guåhan and is at risk because of the 

military’s plans to construct a firing range. 

This critically endangered species also occurs 

in the second most southern island of the 

archipelago, Rota, but it is uncertain if the Rota 

S. nelsonii populations are conspecific with the

tree from Guåhan. For my dissertation, I am

conducting a phylogenetic study on Serianthes

Workshops Advocate Traditional 

Ecological Knowledge at the  

Legislature in Gu



By Else Demeulenaere 

Associate Director, Center for 

Island Sustainability 

UOG Station, Mangilao, Guam 


to guide management and to resolve questions 

about conspecificity. Although the military 

has not planned the removal of the last 

Serianthes tree, the proposed buffer zone 

around the tree will endanger establishment 

of a healthy population and puts the tree 

at risk during typhoons. In order to use the 

firing range, a large surface danger zone 

(SDZ) will reach over most of Litekyan, a 

culturally important area below the cliffs 

where the tree grows. The SDZ would close 

most of Litekyan off to the public and cultural 

practitioners. History books list Litekyan as a 

place with high quality timber, including the 

Håyun Lågu. Adding an ethnobotanical and 

policy piece to my dissertation resulted from 

my involvement with the social movement to 

protect Litekyan. This also sparked my interest 

to further look into ethnobotanical uses of 

Serianthes in Micronesia and how different 

island cultures value this tree.

Thanks to the Advocacy Leadership Grant, 

I could organize two public events at the 

35th Guåhan legislature in collaboration 

with senators: (1) a workshop illustrating 

the importance of Traditional Ecological 

Knowledge (TEK) of native plant species in 

Litekyan, and (2) a native tree-planting event. 

The office of Senator Sabina Perez assisted 

to organize the workshop at the legislature, 

which was live-streamed on their legislative 

channel. The coastal vegetation and limestone 

forest at Litekyan harbor many plant species 

that have remained a valuable resource for 

traditional healers (yo’ åmte). These yo’ åmte still 

collect åmot (medicine) at Litekyan (Fig. 1). The 

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Figure 1. Healers gather to collect åmot (medicine) at Litekyan. In the top left, yo’ åmte Susan is 

showing the nanaso fruit, used for eye ailments. 

workshop was supported by healers from the 

Håya Foundation, who prepared medicinal 

teas. With help from the Advocacy Leadership 

grant, I designed ethnobotany posters that 

illustrate the importance of TEK in Guåhan 

and Micronesia. Potted plants and herbarium 

specimens were used to illustrate some of the 

most common and culturally important plants 

(Fig. 2).

For the second event, the offices of Senator 

Regine Biscoe Lee and Senator Perez, together 

with the Center for Island Sustainability of 

the University of Guam, organized a tree-

planting  event that put members of the 

legislature and the community to work 

(Fig. 3). Mr. Joe Quinata from the Guam 

Preservation Trust selected an appropriate 

location for planting these native trees in the 

capital of Guåhan. The trees and shrubs used 

during the workshop will create a sheltered 

place for the senators to meet outside their 

offices and enjoy some of the healing powers 

of the native plants used. Senators will be 

able to pick gausali flowers (Bikkia tetrandra

to decorate their hair or use drops of the 

juice of nanaso fruits (Scaevola taccada) to 

relieve those with dry eyes possibly due to 

extensive computer use. The main goals of 

the workshops were to stimulate lawmakers 

to preserve TEK, endemic plants, and sacred 

places by drafting bills that incorporate TEK 

into management practices,  connecting the 

land and the people. Senator Perez said, “It is 

imperative that we incorporate the valuable 

teachings of our ancestors in our actions and 

our policies.” Several newspapers and news 

media in Guåhan covered the events, and 

social media groups engaged with the topic. 

After the events, I followed up with Senator 

Perez and Senator Kelly Marsh-Taitano to 

discuss legislation to strengthen the protection 

of endangered species, ethnobotanical uses, 

and sacred places such as Litekyan. 

To reach students in local schools in 

Micronesia, I have designed and distributed 

stickers featuring images of native plants, 

accompanied with a phrase in the local 

language about their ethnobotanical or 

ecological importance (Fig. 4). These stickers 

can be used to emphasize hands-on, real-

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PSB 66 (1) 2020


Amy Lovecraft (UAF), Dr. Sveta Yamin-

Pasternak (UAF), Dr. Kevin Jernigan (UAF), 

and Dr. Don Rubinstein (UOG)—for guidance 

on my research. Most importantly, I want to 

thank all the TEK holders for sharing their 

knowledge and to keep these practices alive 

for future generations to come. My research is 

grounded in learning from indigenous peoples 

and recognizes the importance of indigenous 

epistemology (Smith, 2012). I hope that by 

connecting research and activism with the 

visions, aspirations, and needs of indigenous 

communities, we can advance cultural 

sustainability, social, and political well-being 

in the Mariana Islands.

Figure 2. Else Demeulenaere presents during the workshop at the Guam Legislature. The Advo-

cacy Leadership Grant funded outreach posters that will be available online to support place-based 

education. The inset picture shows attending senators, yo’ åmte and the chief of Forestry at the 

Guam Legislature.

world, place-based learning experiences. 

These educational experiences increase 

academic achievement, help students develop 

stronger ties to their community, enhance 

students’ appreciation for the natural world, 

and create a heightened commitment to 

serving as active, contributing citizens (Ban 

et al., 2018; Davidson-Hunt and O’Flaherty, 

2007). At the same time the students can use 

the stickers to advocate for the protection of 

their islands’ biocultural diversity.

I want to thank the Botanical Society 

of America and the American Society 

of Plant Taxonomists for the Advocacy 

Leadership Grant, which helped to facilitate 

these conversations, and my dissertation 

committee—Dr. Steffi Ickert-Bond (chair, 

University of Alaska Fairbanks [UAF]), Dr. 

Xiao Wei (University of Guam [UOG]), Dr. 

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PSB 66 (1) 2020



Ban, N. C., A. Frid, M. Reid, B. Edgar, D. Shaw, and P. 

Siwallace. 2018. Incorporate Indigenous perspectives 

for impactful research and effective management. 

Nature Ecology and Evolution 2:1680–1683.
Costion, C. M., and D. H. Lorence. 2012. The endem-

ic plants of micronesia: a geographical checklist 

and  commentary. Micronesia 43: 51–100.
Davidson-Hunt, I. J., and R. M. O’Flaherty. 2007. Re-

searchers, indigenous peoples, and place-based 

learn-ing  communities.  Society  and  Natural 

Resources  20:  291–305.
Smith, L. T. 2012. Decolonizing Methodologies. Zed 

Books. Otago University Press.

Figure 4. Else Demeulenaere hands over 

Serianthes nelsonii or tronkon guåfi stickers to 

Rota Forester James Manglona.

Figure 3. The University of Guam Center for Island Sustainability and senators of the 35th Guam 

Legislature at the tree planting ceremony on October 24, 2019 on the lawn outside of the Guam 

Congress Building. 

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PSB 66 (1) 2020        


With this issue, Plant Science Bulletin is 

entering its 65


 year of publication. Since its 

first issue in 1955, the goal of PSB has been 

to communicate significant events, facilitate 

discussion of the concerns and challenges that 

arise in botany as a professional discipline, 

and foster community within the plant 

sciences. In particular, contributions to PSB 

have focused on the intersection of botany 

with education, industry, and government, as 

well as the professional life of botanists. 

I have served as Editor-in-Chief of Plant 

Science Bulletin since 2015 and am delighted 

to continue this role until 2025. Over the last 

five years, my goal has been to ensure that 

the content of PSB  reflects the interests and 

composition of the 21


 century Botanical 

Society of America and that the Bulletin 

provides a platform from which to share ideas 

and resources. 

Since 2015, we have implemented some 

exciting changes. We gave PSB  a new look 

with a new logo and initiated several regular 

features, including sections dedicated to 

Students and Public Policy. The Student 

Representatives and chairs of the Public 

Policy Committee have worked tirelessly to 

bring you current news and articles of interest 

in each issue. We also continued the tradition 

Plant Science Bulletin:


A Vision for 2020

of having a dedicated section for Education 

News and Notes, which Catrina Adams, the 

BSA Education Director, puts together for 

each issue. I extend special thanks to all of our 

regular contributors. 

There have been significant changes to BSA 

publishing since 2015, as American Journal 

of Botany and Applications in Plant Science 

are now officially under the Wiley umbrella. 

Plant Science Bulletin, however, continues to 

be self-published. This means that production 

of PSB requires significant effort by the BSA 

staff, but it also gives us the flexibility to 

adapt the Bulletin to the needs of the Society. 

Although PSB is published in-house, we plan 

to take full advantage of Wiley’s publications 

platform and Plant Science Bulletin is included 

on the new Publications Hub at https:// I am also 

looking forward to working with the new BSA 

Social Media Interns to promote PSB articles 

to a wider audience and to develop strategies 

to make articles, including those from back 

issues, easier to access and transmit. 

In 2016, Plant Science Bulletin published its 

first special issue on Citizen Science and in 

the next five years, we hope to publish more 

of these on various topics of interest. We are 

always working to increase the number and 

By Mackenzie Taylor 

Editor-in-Chief, PSB

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PSB 66 (1) 2020        


breadth of contributions PSB, and I encourage 

you to email me with your ideas. My favorite 

thing about being Editor is getting to work 

with so many different people who contribute 

to botany in so many different ways. The 

original idea was for PSB  to perform a 

“unifying function” among plant scientists 

and I feel strongly that this is important. 

I am excited to see what the next five years 

have in store for PSB.  My hope is PSB  that 

every BSA member will find something of 

interest within its pages.  

PSB by the Numbers 


17 issues 

14 Peer-Reviewed Articles (Special 


16 Editor-Reviewed Articles 

114 Book Reviews 

152+ Contributors 

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His garden is a perfect portraiture of himself, 

here you meet wt[sic] a row of rare plants 

almost covered over wt[sic] weeds, here with 

a Beautifull[sic] Shrub, even Luxuriant 

Amongst Briars, and in another corner an 

Elegant & Lofty tree lost in common thicket 

– on our way from town to his house he 

carried me to several[sic] rocks & Dens where 

he shewed[sic] me some of his rare plants, 

which he had brought from the Mountains 

&c.  In a word he distains to have a garden 

less than Pensylvania[sic] & Every den is an 

Arbour[sic], Every run of water, a Canal, & 

every small level Spot a Parterre, where he 

nurses up some of his Idol Flowers & cultivates 

his darling productions. —Colden (1754).

Bartram’s Garden: a Legacy of  

Colonial American Botany

Bartram’s Garden is recognized as the oldest 

botanical garden in North America and one of 

the first in the world not established as a physic 

garden associated with medical instruction 

(Bewell, 2017). As suggested in the quote 

above, the garden was, and is, a reflection of 

the philosophy of its founder, John Bartram. 

In this paper I will briefly review the history 

of the Garden and describe its role in the 

development of several aspects of American 

botany, as a scientific discipline, a commercial 

business, and a public educational institution.  


Bartram’s was not the first botanical garden, 

even in Philadelphia.  In 1718 Dr. Christopher 

DeWitt established a medicinal garden in 

Philadelphia, and a 1729 poem refers to an 

even earlier medicinal garden at Batchelor’s 

Hall (Harshberger, 1899). Fry (2004) notes 

that Bartram had a small garden collection on 

his original farm in Darby between 1723 and 

the death of his first wife in 1727.  He suggests 

that the idea of an even larger garden was 

already on Bartram’s mind when he purchased 

the original 102 acres (+10.5 acres of marsh) 

in Kingsessing Township, about 4 miles 

southwest of Philadelphia, from the heirs of 

the Swedish colonial plantation, Aronameck, 

for £145 (Fry, 2004). (Note: Berkeley and 

By Marshall D. Sundberg 

Department of Biological  


Emporia State University 

Emporia, KS 66801

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Berkeley [1982] list the sale as £45 for 112 

acres; Meyer [1977] listed the sale as 102 

acres.)  The deed was purchased at a sheriff’s 

sale on 30 September 1728 (Darlington, 

1840).  Fry (2004) suggests Bartram probably 

planted a kitchen garden in 1729.  This could 

be considered the “first seed” that grew into 

Bartram’s Garden, although 1731, the date 

on the cornerstone of the stone house, is 

generally considered to be the founding date 

of the garden (Bartonia, 1931).  Subsequently 

Bartram made additional purchases so that 

the property extended back to the top of the 

hills on either side of the original property 

(Bartram, 1807).

The garden sits on a natural terrace that rises 

gradually from the river floodplain toward the 

northwest, about 45 feet above the Schuylkill 

River.  A freshwater spring in the lower garden 

was used to cool the milk house and feed a 

small freshwater lily pond (Figure 1).  There 

are a variety of soil types, from sandy and silty 

loam to rocky.  Recent analyses identify eight 

or more distinct soil types on the property 

(Fry, 2002).  In general, soils around the 

house on the upper terrace are well drained 

while those from the pond to the river are 

more poorly drained clay soils.  The variety of 

exposures and soil types allowed Bartram to 

successfully transplant plants from northern 

areas such as upstate New York and southern 

areas such as the Carolinas.  The original 

cultivated garden covered at most five or six 

acres, but he subsequently bought additional 

acreage so that by 1807, his son William could 

note that his father “arranged [his collected 

plants] according to their natural soil and 

situation, either in the garden, or on his 

plantation, which consisted of between 200 

and 300 acres of land, the whole of which he 

termed his garden (Bartram, 1807; Berkeley 

and Berkeley, 1982).  

When Bartram purchased the property, it 

included a small house and orchard.  The 

original building became the present hall 

and parlor that Bartram incorporated into an 

enlarged home (Cheston, 1953; NPS, 2001). 

According to Cheston, the white oak beam 

above the fireplace dates from 1684, when 

the original house was built.  Pyle (1880) 

suggested that the small closet beside the 

parlor fireplace, which extends behind the 

chimney, was probably used by Bartram to 

keep living specimens in winter and/or to dry 

specimens. Tradition says that immediately 

upon purchasing the property, Bartram 

began quarrying and finishing his own stone 

to enlarge the building, which he completed 

in 1731 (True, 1931, Figure 1).  Indeed, in 

January 1757, he wrote to a neighbor, Jared 

Eliot, explaining exactly how to hew stones, up 

Figure 1.  A sketch of John Bartram’s House 

and Garden as it appeared before 1777.  

(By permission of Joel T. Fry, John Bartram 


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Figure 2.  John Bartram’s House today. A, Front view of house from the west. B, Rear view of 

house from the east. (author’s images)



to 17 feet long, using a rock drill and wedges 

(Berkeley and Berkeley, 1992).  The original 

portion of the house was only one room deep, 

and two stories tall.  In 1737 he built an out-

building, the seed house (Figure 1, far left of 

Figure 2A, and Figure 3), on the north side 

of the main house.  In the 1840s he added a 

large kitchen on the north side of the house 

with a very large hearth on the north wall (see 

location of chimney on left side of Figure 2A).  

In 1760 Bartram built a free-standing stone 

greenhouse with glass walls on the east side 

and heated with a Franklin stove (Figure 1; 

Fry, 2002).  This was despite his letter to Philip 

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Miller three years earlier: “I don’t greatly like 

tender plants what wont[sic] bear our severe 

winters but perhaps annual plants that would 

perfect their [sic] seed with you without 

the help of A hot bed in the spring will do 

with us in the open ground” (Berkeley and 

Berkeley, 1992).  However, in November 1759, 

Miller wrote, “With this I send you a parcel 

of Bulbous rooted flowers from the Cape of 

Good Hope.  If they succeed as well with you 

as they have done in the Chelsea Garden, I am 

sure they will give you pleasure, but I imagine 

they will not live thro[sic] the winter without 

protection, which is the case here.”  This was 

probably the stimulus Bartram needed.  Seven 

months later he wrote to tell Collinson, “Dear 

friend I am A going to build A green-house - - 

stone is got & hope as soon as harvest is over to 

begin to build it to put some pretty flowering 

winter shrubs & plants for winters diversion 

not to be crowded with orange trees or thos 

natural to ye torrid zone but such as will do 

being protected from frost…” (Berkeley and 

Berkeley, 1992). The greenhouse became 

especially important for maintaining some 

of the exotic plants that were sent to Bartram 

from his correspondents both in Europe and 

in the southern United States. 

Around 1770 he extended the home both to 

the north and east toward the river.  On the 

first floor were a study and pantry flanking a 

porch on the east and a summer kitchen (now 

restrooms) on the north.  Three new rooms were 

added to the second floor on the east and a six-room 

third story raised the roof (NPS, 2001).  Slaughter 

(1996) suggests that this was to provide rooms 

on the south side of the house for John and 

Mary to retire in while John Jr., and his new 

wife, Eliza Howell (m. 1771), would occupy 

the north side. The new east façade sported 

a distinguishing row of pillars (Figure 2B) 

(Cheston, 1953).  An additional one-story 

room was also added on the south side in 

the early 1800s (NPS, 2001).  The Franklin 

stove, a gift from Benjamin Franklin, is the 

only original furnishing in the current house 

according to Cheston (1953), but Pyle (1880) 

claims the “old Franklin stove in the sitting 

room – a present from Benjamin himself, like 

enough-has been removed….” According to a 

Russian visitor, “His house is small but decent 

… I had no sooner entered, than I observed 

a coat of arms, in a gilt frame, with the name 

of JOHN BERTRAM[sic]” (de Crevecoeur, 



John Bartram was born on 23 March 1699, 

in Darby, Pennsylvania, a Quaker settlement 

south of Philadelphia.  His grandfather, also 

John, moved to Pennsylvania in 1622, the 

year Philadelphia was founded by William 

Penn (Darlington, 1849).  In 1708 Bartram 

inherited his uncle’s farm in Darby, which was 

fortuitous, as his father moved the rest of the 

family to what was then the colony of Carolina 

in 1711 and sold his land in Pennsylvania.  His 

father, William, was killed in an Indian attack 

later that year in the first engagement of the 

Tuscarora War (La Vere, 2013).  In 1723 John 

married his first wife, Mary Marris, and they 

had two sons.  Mary, as well as his older son, 

died four years later. As noted above, Bartram 

bought his first piece of the garden property 

the following year (Berkeley and Berkeley, 

1982).  A year later, in September 1729, he 

married his second wife, Ann Mendenhall; 

they moved to Kingsessing and he began 

enlarging the house.  They had nine children, 

two of whom are important for the garden.  

William, and his twin sister Elizabeth, was 5


born and John was 8


 (Darlington, 1849).  

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From an early age John valued education, 

although he only attended country-schools.  

Nevertheless, he studied Latin and Greek 

on his own, was inclined toward medicine, 

and sought out men of good learning. He 

was a founding member of the American 

Philosophical Society, established in 1743, and 

represented Botany, one the nine recognized 

fields of knowledge.  Bartram followed 

Benjamin Franklin on the list of members, 

and Franklin hoped Bartram would prepare a 

comprehensive natural history of the colonies 

(Ewan, 1968). 

John’s occupation, though, was a farmer.  He 

extended his productive lands by draining 

and reclaiming marshland along the river.  

He rotated his crops and periodically planted 

a fallow field with red clover.  He fertilized 

his fields with lime, ashes, and manure.  As a 

result, his crops of wheat, flax, oats, and maize 

greatly outproduced that of his neighbors (de 

Crevecoeur, 1782).  His farming and interest 

in medicine explain his love of botany and his 

son’s observation that he would contemplate 

the “beauty and harmony” of plants even as he 

was plowing his fields or mowing his meadows 

(Bartram, 1804).  As a consequence, “He 

was, perhaps, the first Anglo-American, who 

conceived the idea of establishing a botanic 

garden, for the reception and cultivation of 

the various vegetables, natives of the country, 

as well as of exotics, and of traveling for the 

discovery and acquisition of them” (Bartram, 


Physically and mentally, Bartram was well-

suited to his vocation.  He was of above 

average height and naturally industrious and 

active.  He was modest, good-natured, and 

“an example of filial, conjugal, and parental 

affection” (Bartram, 1804).  Not surprisingly, 

given his Quaker background, Benjamin 

Smith Barton noted that Bartram “…was one 

of the earliest espousers of the cause of the 

Blacks, in Pennsylvania” (Bartram, 1804).  



Sometime around 1730 Bartram began his 

travels, at his own expense, to collect local 

plants and bring them back to his garden 

for his own pleasure (Bartram, 1804; John 

Bartram Association, 1907).  In 1733 Peter 

Collinson, a London merchant and avid 

gardener, inquired, through Benjamin 

Franklin, for a person to supply seeds and 

cuttings of American plants for his garden.  

A Quaker, and member of the Royal Society, 

Figure 3.  View of the “Seed House,” the 

first greenhouse in the garden from Bartram’s 

house. (author’s image)

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PSB 66 (1) 2020        


Collinson had been supplying books to 

Franklin’s Library Company since 1731 and 

knew both Franklin and the Company’s 

secretary, Joseph Breintnall.  Breintnall 

recommended John Bartram, and the die was 

cast (Wulf, 2009).  Thus began a four-decade 

long correspondence and plant exchange 

between Collinson and Bartram (Berkeley and 

Berkeley, 1992).  Mainly through Collinson, 

Bartram increased his circle of correspondents 

and customers both in Europe and America.  

Benjamin Smith Barton, the editor of William 

Barton’s account of his father, mentions many 

individuals from whom he had copies of 

Bartram’s letters: Linnaeus, Gronovius, Sir 

Hans Sloane, Catesby, Dillenius, Collinson, 

Fothergill, George Edwards, and Philip Miller 

in Europe, and Franklin, Dr. Alexander 

Garden and Governor Cadwallader Colden 

(see Sundberg, 2011 for the latter two) in 

America (Bartram, 1804).  Most of this 

correspondence related to his distribution 

of cuttings and seeds of American plants.  

In 1752 alone, 29 boxes of plant materials 

were shipped to Europe.  Bartram’s list of 

customers eventually grew to 144 merchants, 

nurserymen, and peers in Europe and at least 

33 friends and correspondents in America.  In 

addition to those mentioned above were: King 

George III, the Prince of Wales, eight Dukes, 

and nine Earls (Berkeley and Berkeley, 1982).  

Bartram was beginning to build a business 

selling American plants abroad, but he was 

also providing a conduit for introducing plants 

from other countries to America (Table 1). 

While he was interested in introducing 

plants into his garden, he also wrote to 

Collinson about a number of “Introduced 

Plants troublesome in Pennsylvania Pastures 

and Fields”.  Among these were: Hypericum 

perforatum, “a very pernicious weed…

spreads over fields & spoils their pasturage”; 

Leucanthemum vulgare, “a very destructive 

weed in meadow & pasture ground choaking 

ye grass & taking full possession of ye 

ground”; and worst, Linaria vulgaris, “ye 

stinking yellow linaria…ye most hurtful plant 

in our pastures that can grow in our Northern 

climate…the spade nor hoe can destroy it…

is now spread over great part of ye inhabited 

parts of pensilvania[sic]” (Berkeley and 

Berkley, 1982).

In 1735 (Meyer, 1977) or 1736 (Berkeley 

and Berkeley, 1982), Bartram followed the 

Schuylkill River to its source, collecting along 

the way specifically for Collinson.  The same 

year he also traveled down the Delaware River 

to the Great Cedar Swamp in New Jersey.  In 

1838 he made his first collecting trip south to 

Maryland and Virginia.  These local trips were 

made in the fall, both because the harvest 

had to be completed, but also because of the 

variety of seeds he could collect.  On 20 May 

1741, he began his first trip to New York.  By 

now his connections were extensive and upon 

his return home in the fall he began preparing 

shipments for England, Holland, Sweden, 

and the Jardin du Roi in Paris (Figure 4).  

In June 1743, he wrote New York Governor 

Cadwallader Colden that he would soon be 

leaving for New York to begin his first extensive 

collecting trip of a full year.  Coulder and his 

daughter, Jane, were well-known botanists in 

New York (Sundberg, 2011).

On 3 July 1743, Bartram left Philadelphia to 

meet Conrad Weiser, the Pennsylvania Indian 

Agent, who would guide the trip and act as 

interpreter.  Weiser had to settle affairs with 

the Indians at Onodago and could thus guide 

Bartram all the way to Lake Ontario.  They 

traveled west to the Susquehanna River, then 

followed it north to the mountains and on 

into New York.  This was a time of tension 

on the frontier between the English colonists, 

the French traders, the Iroqouis, and the 

Delawares.  Weiser had more than 10 years 

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Scientific Name

Common Name

Scientific Name

Common Name

Acer platanoides

Norway Maple

Picea abies

Norway Spruce

Aesculus hippocastanum Horse Chestnut

Pinus sylvestris

Scots Pine

Ailanthus altissima


Platanus orientalis

Oriental Plane

Arbutus unedo

Strawberry tree

Prunus laurocerasus Cherry Laurel

Buxus sempervirens


Pyracantha coccinea Firethorn

Colutea arborescens

Bladder Senna

Quercus robur

English Oak

Cornus mas

Cornelian Cherry

Sorbus aucuparia

European Mountain 


Cytisus scoparius

Scotch Broom

Sorbus domestica

Service Tree

Hedera helix

English Ivy

Syringa persica

Persian Lilac

Larix decidua

European Larch

Syringa vugaris


Laurus nobilis


Thuja orientalis

Chinese Arborvitae

Melia azedarach


Ulex europaeus


Table 1.  Some woody introductions to America that made their way through Bartram’s Garden.

of experience, which produced in him a very 

different attitude about the country than that 

described by Bartram.  Bartram commented 

on the soils and vegetation and the pleasant 

views.  On July 11, near Shamokin, he described 

“an old Indian field of excellent soil, where 

there had been a town, the principle footsteps 

of which are peach-trees, plums and excellent 

grapes.”  He later casually mentions the conflict 

between the Iroquois and neighboring tribes 

and potential effect on settlers (Bartram, 

1752).  According to Merrell (1999), “The 

same ‘Dismal Wilderness’ that temporarily 

darkened even Bartram’s sunny disposition 

in July 1743 almost killed Weiser in March 

1737…an escape from Hell.”  Coincidently, 

about 10 years later (May 1754), and 150 miles 

further west, George Washington, a colonel in 

the Virginia militia, ignited the French and 

Indian war at Fort Necessity, near today’s 

Pittsburgh (Merrell, 1999).  Bartram arrived 

home on 19 August 1744, and eventually 

published his observations in a short book 

(Bartram, 1752; Berkeley and Berkeley, 1982).  

Twelve years later, during the war, Bartram 

again accompanied Weiser on a diplomatic 

From Fry, 2002.

Herbs included: lilacs, tulips, narcissus, roses, lilies, crocuses, gladioli, iris, snapdragons,  

cyclamens, poppies and carnations.  Also Pomegranate.  (From Middleton, 1925.)

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Figure 4.  Quercus macrocarpa (Burr Oak) 

growing in the Jardin des Plantes, Paris. (au-

thor’s image)

mission, but now wrote Collinson about 

the “barbarous inhuman ungrateful natives 

weekly murdering our back inhabitants” 

(Berkeley and Berkeley, 1982).

Bartram had difficulty finding traveling 

companions for his collecting expeditions but 

solved that problem in 1753 when he took 

his 14-year-old son, William, on a trip to the 

Catskills.  It was during this trip that they 

spent two nights at Coldengham, New York, 

at Governor Colden’s home.   Unfortunately, 

Colden was in the city, but his daughter, Jane, 

showed the Bartrams her plant collections 

and they talked botany (Berkeley and 

Berkeley, 1982; Sundberg, 2011).  Not only did 

William assist his father on these trips, but he 

continued collecting for the garden long after 

his father’s death. 

In 1760 Bartram set out on his first trip to 

the Carolinas to visit his brother William, 

who lived near Cape Fear, North Carolina, 

and the botanist Dr. Alexander Garden 

in Charlestown. The highlight of the trip, 

however, was a visit with Governor Dobbs, 

who had recently described a plant he called 

“Fly Trap Sensitive” to Collinson.  Bartram 

was not able to collect the plant, but in early 

summer of 1761 he asked his son, William, 

who was in Carolina, to send some seeds 

and roots of “ye pretty sensitives at A proper 

season”.  The following year Bartram informed 

Collinson that he had included some of these 

“sensitives” in his latest box of seeds and plants.  

The shipment was captured by a French vessel, 

and the plants rotted by the time they reached 

London.  Collinson replied that he would 

like William to at least make a sketch of “the 

sensitive” and send it to him.  Bartram replied 

that one of the plants he kept had died, but two 

others survived in the garden.  He said that in 

some ways it resembled the sensitive briar “…

but this is quite smooth slender stalked & both 

closet its leaves & gently prostrates: my little 

“Tipitiwitchet sensitive” stimulates laughter 

in all ye beholders…” (Berkeley and Berkeley, 

1982, 1992) Collinson finally received 

specimens in June 1763, and responded to 

Bartram.  “O, Botany, Delightfullest of all 

Sciences… I have sent Linnaeus a Specimen 

& one Leafe of Tipitiwitchet-Sensitive – 

Only to Him, would I spare Such a Jewel … 

Linnaeus will be In raptures at the Sight of 

It…” (Berkeley and Berkeley, 1992). William 

had already completed his drawing as a small 

insert on his American Lotus plate (Figure 5).  

William “related how he saw ‘the ludicrous 

Dionea muscipula in the savannah of North 

Carolina’ and, appropriately, records the 

pioneer efforts of his father in communicating 

the ‘wonderful plant’ to Europe” (Ewan, 1968).  

Nevertheless, in September 1769, John Ellis 

described the plant to Linnaeus, who named 

it  Dionea muscipula (Ellis), not Tipitiwichet 

(Bartram), in 1770 (Ewan, 1968).

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Figure 5.  Dionaea muscipula, Venus flytrap, 

in lower left corner of William Bartram’s 

American lotus, plate 21. (In: Ewan, J. 1968. 

William Bartram Botanical and Zoological 

Drawings, 1756-1788. 


American Philosophical Society.)

In August 1765, John, having recently been 

appointed “Botanist to his Majesty” by King 

George III, left on his first trip to Georgia 

and Florida, accompanied by William.  It was 

on this trip that they discovered Franklinia 

(Figure 6) in southern Georgia, although the 

discovery was not included in Bartram’s journal 

other than “…this day we found several curious 

shrubs…” (Bartram, 1942, p. 31).  They made 

no collection.  William did collect it later on 

his famous “Travels” and brought seeds back 

to the garden in January 1777.  It is well known 

that  Franklinia has not been found in the 

wild since shortly after William’s collection.  

This may not have surprised John.  In 1763 

he wrote Collinson that during his 30 years 

collecting, he never found “one single species 

in all ye times that I did not observe in my first 

journey through ye same province but many 

times I found that plant ye first that neither I 

nor any person could find after which plants I 

suppose was destroyed by ye cattle” (Berkeley 

and Berkeley, 1992).  Bartram was already 

acknowledging human impact on the loss of 


John had already retired in 1771 and John Jr. 

took over management of, and later inherited, 

the garden and farm. Unfortunately, John Sr. 

never saw Franklinia in flower because he died 

22 September 1777 (Bartram, 1958; Berkeley 

and Berkeley, 1982).  According to Middleton 

(1925) one of Bartram’s last concerns was that 

the British Army, advancing from their win 

at the Battle of Brandywine 11 days earlier, 

would destroy the garden.  But the British “as 

a fitting tribute to the services of the simple-

minded scientist to their native land spared 

the garden….”

In 1762 John compiled a list of 169 trees and 

shrubs he knew he had growing in the garden, 

But “…I have many plants that is so young that 

thair[sic] proper Characters is not so visible as 

to ascertain their Genus & many that is A quite 

new Genus… (Berkeley and Berkeley, 1992, p. 

555).  The 1783 catalogue put out by John Jr. 

and William listed 218 species available for 


According to Fry (2002), John Jr. and William 

probably shared a business relationship 

with John Jr. handling the paperwork, 

William the annual gathering, and both 

cultivating, packing, and shipping specimens.  

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Figure 6.  Franklinia alatamaha specimen 

southeast of Bartram’s house.  (author’s im-


International trade essentially stopped from 

1775—before the outbreak of the American 

Revolution—through 1779 when trade 

with France picked up.  The 1783 catalogue 

corresponded with the Treaty of Paris in the 

spring of that year (Bartram and Bartram, 


Wulf (2009) suggests the garden played a 

major role during the 1787 Constitutional 

Convention in Philadelphia.  Jefferson, 

Madison, and Washington, among other 

participants, were avid gardeners and had 

purchased plants from the garden.  Jefferson’s 

first recorded visit was in 1783 (Fry, 2002) and 

Washington first visited the garden on June 

19, 1787, shortly after the Convention began.  

By Friday, 13 July, “with the Convention on 

the verge of collapse,” the Reverend Manasseh 

Cutler, Madison and others decided on a trip 

to Bartram’s garden the following day.  Among 

those on the Saturday excursion were: James 

Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Alexander 

Martin, Hugh Williamson, John Rutledge, 

Caleb Strong, George Mason, Cutler, and two 

native Philadelphians. (Franklin was ill and 

unable to attend, although he was a frequent 

visitor.)  The garden was a metaphor for the 

country and the delegates recognized many 

plants from their home states, from as far 

north as Vermont to as far south as South 

Carolina, all growing together.  Two days 

later, the Convention passed the “Connecticut 

Plan” with three of the garden visitors—

Martin, Williamson, and Strong—changing 

their votes to create a majority.  “It can only be 

speculation that a three-hour walk on a cool 

summer morning among the United States 

of American’s most glorious trees and shrubs 

influenced these men” (Wulf, 2009).  Cutler 

described the appearance of the garden as 


This is a very ancient garden, and the 

collection is large indeed, but is made 

principally from the Middle and Southern 

States.  It is finely situated, as it partakes 

of every kind of soil, has a fine stream of 

water, and an artificial pond, where he as 

a good collection of aquatic plants.  There 

is no situation in which plants or trees are 

found but that they may be propagated 

here in one that is similar.  But everything 

is very badly arranged, for they are neither 

placed ornamentally nor botanically, but 

seem to be jumbled together in heaps…. 

(Cutler, 1888).

The variety of plants growing in the garden 

made it particularly attractive for botany 

courses from the University in Philadelphia.  

Benjamin Smith Barton, the newly appointed 

Professor of Medicine and Botany at the 

University of Pennsylvania, included one 

or more class field trips to the garden every 

year (Sundberg, 2018).  Table 2 summarizes 

his extant notes on flowering dates associated 

with 10 visits between 1785, when he was a 

student, and 1816 (Barton; Sundberg, 2018).

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Visitors used to European gardens would 

expect an orderly arrangement of specimens, 

ornamentally or botanically, as suggested in 

the above quote.  However, the pragmatic 

Bartram no doubt planted his specimens where 

the aspect, protection, and soil would ensure 

the best growth.  His goal was to represent the 

flora of every part of the country he visited—

or desired to visit.  In a letter to Collinson 

dated 11 November 1763, Bartram exclaimed: 

“Oh! If I could but spend six months on the 

Ohio, Mississippi, and Florida, in health I 

believe I could find more curiosities than the 

English, French and Spaniards have done in 

six score years” (Berkeley and Berkeley, 1992). 


John Jr. probably constructed a new, larger 

greenhouse around 1790.  Certainly by 1807 

there was more than one greenhouse and 

the catalogue listed more than 75 native and 

exotic greenhouse plants (Bartram, 1807; Fry, 

2002).  In total, 1143 species were available, 

including 356 woody plants, 635 herbaceous 

plants, 69 grasses, 20 palms and ferns, 46 

mosses, and 17 fungi; some of these were, as 

yet, new to science and had no formal names 

(Bartram and Son, 1807; Anonymous, 1809). 

Increasingly John Jr. concentrated on the 

garden and plant nursery, eventually turning 

the farm over to his son-in-law and oldest 

daughter.  John Bartram III, the next-to-

youngest child, assisted his father in the garden 

until his early death in 1804.  The youngest 

son, James, was a medical student of Benjamin 

Smith Barton who left Philadelphia for a two-

year voyage as a ship’s surgeon at about the 

time of his brother’s death.  Upon returning, 

he partnered with his father at the garden and 

was the “Son” in the 1807 catalogue.  Daughter 

Anne married Robert Carr in 1809, and James 

married Mary Ann Joyce the following year.  

The two husbands took over management of 

the farm, and Anne and her uncle William 

ran the garden, which was now advertising 

its greenhouse plants for sale in local papers 

(Fry, 1995).  John Jr. died in 1812, and his will 

divided the estate evenly between his three 

surviving children.  Although Anne’s husband, 

Robert, was an infantry officer during the 

war and was not discharged until 1815, their 

inheritance included the garden (along with 

“384 pots, boxes and tubs of plants” valued at 

$250), the original house and outbuildings, 

and the north meadow.  These 32 acres are 

approximately the extent of today’s Bartram’s 

Garden Park (Fry, 2002).  James died in April 

1818 and William on July 22, 1823. 

The Carrs enlarged the garden and brought it 

to commercial success.  The garden eventually 

included orchards, greenhouses, cold frames, 

and nursery beds (Fry, 2002).  In 1832, William 

Wynne, recently hired from England to be 

Foreman at the garden, wrote an account of the 

nurseries and gardens around Philadelphia in 

the Gardener’s Magazine, London.   Not only 

was Bartram’s the oldest garden in the country, 

but it had the best collection of American 

plants in the United States with more than 

2000 species.  Many of the specimens are large 

and prodigious seed producers, supplying an 

export market throughout Europe, Asia, and 

Africa. The tool house, the gardens, and the 

seed house are all kept “in the best order.”  

Later in the same volume, Alexander Gordon 

(1832) noted there was an excellent collection 

of cacti, including many undescribed species 

from South America as well as houseplants 

and fine fruit trees.    

Five years later Gordon (1837) expanded his 

description of the garden operation, giving 

particular credit to Anne.  “Mrs. Carr’s 

botanical requirements place her in the 

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Table 2.  Notes on flowering by Benjamin Smith Barton at, or on the way to, Bartram’s Garden


In Flower


June 13, 1785

Lobelia syphilitica

Galega virginica

Styrax grandifolium

Itea virginica




In the woods near Mr J. Bartrams Garden 

On the rocky hill, near Grey’s Ferry, going to Bartram’s

Mr. W. Bartram says this plant is in its greatest perfec-

tion as far as he has seen about Cape Fear in North 


In the garden.

In the woods near Bartram’s

In the woods near Bartram’s

In the woods near Bartram’s

April 15, 1791

Gauthoriza aprifolia Vinca 


Thuyafrom Lake Ontario,

Sanguinaria Canadensis

Saxifraga Pennsylvanica

Houstonia caerulea

In flower in Mr. Bartrams garden

In flower in Mr. Bartrams garden

In flower in Mr. Bartrams garden

In flower in Mr. Bartrams garden

Between Grays Ferry and Bartrams

Between Grays Ferry and Bartrams

Sept 17, 1799

Sigesbeckia occidentalis

Cane [Arundinaria?] aovata, 

Helenium autumnale, Franklin-



Lematula paceriofl 

Heracleum sp. 

Scrophularia marylandica 

Rudbeckia laciniata

Mespilus arbutifolia 

Nepeta cataria 


In flower in Mr. Bartrams garden

In flower in Mr. Bartrams garden

In flower in Mr. Bartrams garden

In flower in Mr. Bartrams garden

In flower in Mr. Bartrams garden

In flower in Mr. Bartrams garden

found wild not far from his house, is not H. sylvicum

in same place not far from house

met a good deal during the walk

We found growing wild.

Wm does not think it is native

Wm does not think it is native

May 8, 1806



At Bartram’s

At Bartram’s

June 6, 1808


May 11, 1810


In open ground at Bartram’s

May 17, 1810

Arethusa  ophioglossoides

One specimen at Bartram’s

Aug 14, 1813


W. Bartram assures me that he found on Cape-Fear, in 

N Carolina, abundance the same that is common about 


Aug 18, 1813

Yucca gloriosa

In Bartram’s garden, open ground, fast getting into 

flower.  Will make a fine appearance

June 17, 1816

Hydrangea quercifolia

Fumaria fungosa 

Clematis crispa, 

Rubus odoratus,

 Itea virginica


Rubus odoratus

Nearly in full perfection

Brought by Michaux from the south.

In the “water-gap” of the Delaware

In the “water-gap” of the Delaware

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very first rank among American botanists.  

Her knowledge of American plants is most 

extensive, not surpassed, if equaled, by any 

one in the United States.”  He went on to 

describe the ten glass houses, covering more 

than 4600 square feet.  “No expense is spared 

in procuring every desirable novelty for the 

exotic department.”  More than 16,000 potted 

plants were available. Gordon also provides a 

table of the 30 tallest tree specimens with their 

girth.  However, a footnote at the end indicates 

that Col. Carr is looking for a gentleman 

interested in botany who may be interested in 

purchasing the garden and nursery (Fry, 1995, 




Later that year the Financial Panic of 1837 

forced Carr to begin selling off the nursery 

and exotic plant collections, culminating with 

a clearance sale in 1845.  Two years later the 

garden property was sold at a sheriff’s sale.  It 

was for sale again in 1849.  Finally, on 18 April 

1850, Andrew M. Eastwick purchased the 

entire Carr property.  Both Anne and Robert 

Carr, now in their 70s, were dispossessed and 

the Bartram family connection ceased.  The 

garden was transformed into a country retreat 

for the wealthy Eastwick (Fry, 2002). 

Almost immediately Eastwick hired Thomas 

Meehan, an English gardener who previously 

had worked for two years at Kew.  Despite 

erection of a new mansion on the old farm 

property, and the razing of greenhouses and 

other outbuildings formerly associated with 

the nursery business, most of the historic trees 

in the botanic garden were preserved.  Meehan 

only worked for Eastwick for two years, but 

during that time he compiled notes on all of 

the full-grown trees in the collection.  This 

serves as the basis for his book, “The American 

handbook of ornamental trees” (Meehan, 

1853), which he dedicated to John Bartram. 

A useful feature is that it updates the sizes of 

largest specimens from Gordon’s accounting 

nearly 20 years earlier.  Little, if anything, was 

done to the garden until after Eastwick’s death 

in 1879.  For over a decade, the estate was held 

in trust and the garden simply “went natural.”   

In 1881, Charles S. Sargent, Director of the 

Arnold Arboretum, attempted unsuccessfully 

to organize Philadelphia civic leaders to save 

the old botanic garden, but the city was soon to 

become involved because in 1883 Meehan, the 

prior gardener, was elected to Philadelphia city 

council and the following year he sponsored a 

successful ordinance for the city to “condemn 

land desired for ‘public squares’”.  In 1889 the 

city appropriated funds and in May 1893, the 

house, remaining outbuildings, and garden, 

about 11 acres, were purchased by the city; 

the John Bartram Association was founded 

by Bartram descendants (membership was 

opened to all interested individuals in 1924 

[Meyer, 1977]).   From then until the run-

up to the 1926 Philadelphia International 

Sesquicentennial Exhibition, little but bare 

maintenance was done.  In 1923 administration 

shifted to the Fairmont Park Commission 

and restoration work began on the home 

the following year.  Extensive replanting 

of shrubbery was completed the summer 

before the exhibition, but after that event, 

little but general maintenance was provided 

by the Commission and interpretation was 

rotated between local garden clubs and the 

Association (Fry, 2002).  

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Renewed interest in the garden was again tied 

to an upcoming exhibition in the 1970s—the 

1976 Bicentennial in Philadelphia.  In 1960 

the John Bartram House was recognized as a 

National Historic Landmark and added to the 

National Register of Historic Places; in 1969, 

the John Bartram Association published a 

permanent plan to record existing plantings 

and replant missing species.  The upcoming 

Bicentennial also stimulated archeological 

and historical work on site to support a more 

thorough restoration.  In 1975, Landmark and 

Historic Place designation was extended to 

the entire garden. Two interesting appendices 

in Meyer’s thesis (1977) are a soil survey of 11 

different areas of the garden and an annotated 

plant list of tree species listed in the 1783 

catalogue along with the date they were first 

documented as being cultivated in Europe 

and interpretive quotations from Bartram’s 


In 1980-81 a second restoration of the home 

was completed and an additional 17 acres 

north along the river were re-acquired. 


This segment was part of Bartram’s original 

purchase in 1728.  In 2002 the National Park 

Service completed historic surveys of the 

house and garden, exclusive of the 17-acre 

meadow and marshland (NPS, 2000, 2001; Fry, 

2002). In 2009, the University of Delaware/

Longwood Graduate Program in Horticulture 

took on development of a management plan 

for the meadow on this re-acquired land. The 

primary goals were to develop a reclamation 

and management plan to foster native species 

and remove invasive plants. On the original 

survey, completed in August 2009, 205 

plant taxa were identified—88 native to the 

Pennsylvania piedmont and 113 non-natives 

(4 undetermined).  Fifty-four are considered 

to be invasive and 46 of these are not native 

to North America (Longwood, 2009).  Of the 

“troublesome introduced plants” Bartram 

listed (see above), only Hypericum perforatum 

was found by the site survey and it is not listed 

as invasive.  

Today’s garden is an outstanding urban 

outdoor classroom and an historic legacy.  

Only the original stone buildings were 

witnessed by the garden’s founder, but at 

least two extant specimens were planted by 

his children.  The large male Ginkgo biloba 

(Figure 7) is believed to be the oldest in the 

United States.  In 1853 Meehan reported it 

to be 61 feet tall and with a circumference of 

3 feet 8 inches. It was one of three brought 

from London by William Hamilton in 1785.  

He planted two at his Philadelphia estate, The 

Woodlands, and gave the third to William 

Bartram for the garden.  The Yellowwood, 

Cladrastis kentukea (Figure 8), was discovered 

by André Michaux in 1796 who sent seeds to 

William around 1810.  By 1853 it was 50 feet 

tall with a 4-foot circumference (Meehan, 

1853). Undoubtedly the most well-known tree 

is Franklinia alatamaha (Figure 6) discovered 

by John in Georgia in 1765, but not grown in 

the garden until William brought back seeds 

in 1777.  The plant is apparently not long-

lived, although in 1837, Gordon reported the 

original specimen was 52 feet tall and 3-foot, 

8-inch circumference. Luckily it can readily be 

propagated by cuttings as well as by seed.  The 

garden specimen, like all others in the world, 

is descended from the original seed brought 

back by William in 1777.  It has not been found 

in the wild since 1803 (MoBot). The 2002 NPS 

survey identifies 106 species of mature trees 

on the property—63 fewer than John reported 

in 1762 and 112 fewer than listed in the 1783 

catalogue.  Even so, walking the trails (and 

off the trails) through the garden (Figure 9), 

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Figure 7. Ginkgo biloba planted in 1785, the 

oldest Ginkgo in the United States. (author’s 


you can imagine a stimulating conversation 

about plants with Bartram, almost as if you 

were Franklin, or Jefferson, or one of his many 

other famous visitors botanizing with him in 

his garden.  


Anonymous. 1809.  Kingsess Botanical Gar-

den.  The Monthly Anthology, and Boston Re-

view.  Charlestown, MA: Hastings, Etheridge, 

and Bliss. 

Barton, Benjamin Smith. Benjamin Smith 

Barton  papers.    Dalafield  collection, Ameri-

can Philosophical Society, Philadelphia.

Figure 8.  Cladrastis kentukea (Yellowwood) 

planted around 1810 from seed provided by 

Andre’ Michaux. (author’s image)

Figure 9.  Bartram’s Garden today. (From 

Explorer’s Guide to Bartram’s Garden, 2017)

Bartonia. 1931.  An account of the two hun-

dredth anniversary of the founding of the first 

botanic garden in the American colonies by 

John Bartram. Bartonia: Proceedings of the 

Philadelphia Botanical Club. Special Issue, 

supplement to Number 12.

Bartram, J. 1752.  Observations on the Inhab-

itants, climate, soil, rivers, productions, and 

other matters worthy of notice made in trav-

els from Pensilvania [sic] to Onondago, Os-

wego and the Lake Ontario in Canada, with 

account of Niagara by Peter Kalm.  Belfast.  

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Bartram, John. 1942.  Diary of a journey 

through the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida : 

From July 1, 1765 to April 10, 1766 Anno-

tated by Francis Harper.  Philadelphia, Ameri-

can Philosophical Society.

Bartram, J. Jr. and W. Bartram. 1783.  Cata-

logue of American trees shrubs and herba-

ceous plants, most of which are now growing, 

and produce ripe seed in John Bartram’s Gar-

den, near Philadelphia.  

Bartram, J. [Jr.] & Son. 1807.  A Catalogue 

of Trees, Shrubs, and Herbaceous Plants, 

indigenous to the United States of America: 

cultivated and disposed of by John Bartram 

& Son, at their Botanical Garden, Kingsess, 

near Philadelphia.  To which is added a Cata-

logue of Foreign Plants, collected from vari-

ous parts of the globe.  Philadelphia: Bartram 

and Reynolds.

Bartram, W.  1804.  Some account of the late 

Mr. John Bartram of Pennsylvania.  Philadel-

phia Medical and Physical Journal 1: 115-124.

Bartram, W.  1807.  A catalogue of trees, 

shrubs, and herbaceous plants, indigenous to 

the United States of America; cultivated and 

disposed of by John Bartram & Son, at their 

Botanical Garden, Kingsess, near Philadel-

phia.  Philadelphia: Bartram and Reynolds. 

Bartram, William.  1958.  The travels of Wil-

liam Bartram, Naturalist’s Edition.  Edited by 

Francis Harper.  New Haven, Yale University 


Berkeley, E. and D. S. Berkeley. 1982.  The 

life and travels of John Bartram: From Lake 

Ontario to the river St. John.  Tallahassee, 

University Presses of Florida. 

Berkeley, E. and D. S. Berkeley. 1992.  The 

Correspondence of John Bartram, 1734-1777.  

Gainesville: University Press of Florida.


Bewell, A.  2017.  Natures in translation: Ro-

manticism and colonial natural history.  Bal-

timore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Cheston, E. R.  1953.  John Bartram, 1699-

1777: His garden and his house, 2


 ed. Phila-

delphia:  John Bartram Association.

Colden, C. 1754. Alexander Garden to Cad-

wallander Colden on Bartram.  Letters and 

Papers of Colden 4: 471-472.  Philadelphia: 

American Philosophical Society.  

Cutler, W. P. and J. P. Cutler (eds). 1888.  

Life, Journals and Correspondence of Rev. 

Manasseth Cutler, L.L.D. 2 vols. Cincinnati: 

Robert Clarke & Co.

Darlington, W.  1849.  Memorials of John 

Bartram and Humphrey Marshall, 1849, with 

notices of their botanical contemporaries.  

Philadelphia: Lindsay P. Blakiston.

Darlington, W. 1840.  Memorials of John 

Bartram and Humphry Marshall with notices 

of their botanical contemporaries.  Philadel-

phia: Landsay & Blakiston. 

De Crevecoeur, J. H. St. J.  1782.  Letters from 

an American farmer describing certain pro-

vincial situations, manners, and customs, not 

generally known, and containing some idea of 

the late and present interior circumstances of 

the British colonies in North America.  Bel-

fast: James Magee.

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Ewan, J. (ed). 1968.  William Bartram: Bo-

tanical and Zoological Drawings, 1756-1788.  

Philadelphia:  The American Philosophical 


An Explorer’s Guide to Bartram’s Garden.  

2017.  Philadelphia. The John Bartram Asso-


Fry, J. T. 1995.  Plants for winter’s diversion: 

Greenhouse history and greenhouse plants at 

historic Bartram’s Garden.  Philadelphia: The 

John Bartram Association.

Fry, J. T.  2002.  Historic American Land-

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dens.  HALS No. PA-1. National Park Ser-

vice, U.S. Department of the Interior. 

Fry, J. T.  2004.  John Bartram and his garden: 

would John Bartram recognize his garden to-

day? In N. E. Hoffman and J. C. Van Horne. 

America’s Curious Botanist: A tercentennial 

reappraisal of John Bartram, 1699-1777, pp. 

155-184. Philadelphia: The American Philo-

sophical Society.

Gordon, A.  1832.  Notices of some of the 

principal Nurseries and private gardens in the 

United States of America, made during a tour 

through the country in the summer of 1831; 

with some hints on emigration.  The Garden-

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mestic improvement. 8: 277-289.  

Gordon, A. 1837.  Bartram Botanic Garden.  

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Harshberger, J. W. 1899.  Botanists of Phila-

delphia and their work.  Philadelphia: T.C. 

Davis and Sons. 

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 ed.  Philadel-

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La Vere, D. 2013. The Tuscarora War: Indi-

ans,  settlers,  and  the  fight  for  the  Carolina 

Colonies.    Chapel  Hill:  University  of  North 

Carolina Press.

Longwood Graduate Program in Public Hor-

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Meehan, T.  1853. The American handbook of 

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Merrell, J. H. 1999. Into the woods: negotia-

tors on the Pennsylvania frontier. New York: 

W.W. Norton & Company.

Meyer, P. W. 1977.  A proposal for the inter-

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National Park Service, Historic American 

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Pyle, H. 1880.  Bartram and his garden.  Harp-

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Slaughter, T. P.  1996.  The natures of John 

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Linneaus and the foundations of modern ped-

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Plant Science Bulletin 64: 172-186.

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Botanical Explorations.  In: An account of the 

two hundredth anniversary of the founding of 

the first botanic garden in the American colo-

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of the Philadelphia Botanical Club, Special 

Issue. 31 December, 1931, supplement to 

Number 12.

Wulf, A. 2009.  The Brother Gardeners: Bot-

any, empire and the birth of an obsession.  

New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Wynne, William. 1832,  Some account of the 

nursery gardens and the state of horticulture 

in the neighbourhood of Philadelphia, with 

remarks on the subject of the emigration of 

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Gardener’s magazine and register of rural and 

domestic improvement. 8: 272-276.  

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By Dr. Catrina Adams,  

Education Director

BSA Science Education News and Notes serves 

as an update about the BSA’s education efforts 

and the broader education scene. We invite 

you to submit news items or ideas for future 

features. Contact Catrina Adams, Education 

Director, at

In a recent survey, we asked BSA members 

to share how they approach responding to 

requests for information on plant careers. 

Over 50 members responded to this question. 

We learned that not everyone has time to 

respond to direct questions from people 

without existing connections. Several people 

wished that they were familiar with useful 

online resources that they felt comfortable 

referencing. Others maintained that personal 

relationships are essential and that static 

online resources can only go so far.

Of those members who do respond to such 

requests for career information, the first step 

is usually to gather more context. Plant careers 

are varied, and so most members will start by 

asking questions about the person’s interests 

How Do BSA Members Assist or 

Direct People Interested  

in Plant Careers? 

and background. What plants or aspects of 

plants does the person find most exciting? 

What stage are they in their career, and what 

has their previous training involved? Where 

are they geographically located, and how 

willing are they to travel to pursue education 

or career opportunities? Some members will 

give people a “reality check,” explaining the 

disadvantages of a career in botany to see if 

their interest stands up to some of the typical 

adversity they might encounter.

Once members get a better idea of the person’s 

interests, background, and goals, they may:

• Arrange to speak with, meet with, or 

show the person around their lab or job 


• Find a colleague or connection in their 

network who would be a good mentor for 

the person and try to make a connection;

• Pass the person along to an organiza-

tion that might be of assistance (BSA or 

other appropriate association, nearest 

university, botanical garden, botany club/

wildflower organization/natural history 

survey opportunity, extension service); or

• Send the person a curated list of resources 

for their situation.

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• Online resources that members may 

share in this situation include:

• The BSA website (in particular, the BSA’s 

career brochure)

• Job boards
• Government websites (e.g., USA Jobs, 

Swiss National Science Foundation, NSF’s 

list of Research Experiences for Under-


• Seed Your Future’s BLOOM! (Horticul-

ture focus –


• Botanists’ websites/research blogs (e.g., In 

Defense of Plants)

• ECOLOG/EVOLDIR or other listservs
• local plant science conferences
• TapRoot podcast (


• Plant Science Twitter

• O*NET  - 

U.S. Department of Labor 





• U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupa-

tional Outlook Handbook (https://www.


Some members will also help by providing 

content resources in the person’s area of 

interest (links to specific books/articles, etc. 

or introducing people to Google Scholar). 

A few will continue to send information or 

opportunities to the person as they come 

up, or invite them to apply for internships or 

other research positions they have open or 

that come across their desks.

Information from the recent membership 

survey will be an essential part of the 

conversation as the BSA moves towards 

strategic planning later this year. In general, 

members taking the survey ranked providing 

resources on plant careers and providing 

educational resources on the 

website among the three highest priorities for 

BSA education and outreach. My aim remains 

to identify what is already available and any 

research establishing effective best practices 

for career resources. As we move into 

development mode, I want to ensure BSA has 

the best chance of building new resources that 

can make the most difference in these areas.

If you know of particularly good (or bad) 

existing plant career resources, excellent 

career resources from a different field, or 

research studies that discuss best practices or 

effectiveness in career education resources, 

please continue to pass them along to me at


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PSB 66 (1) 2020


Resources for Teaching Botany 


When the COVID-19 global pandemic forced universities to shift very quickly to 

online  teaching, many were left seeking help and needing resources. The BSA was quick to 

create and provide online resources that are continually being updated. Go to https:// to explore these  resources!

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PSB 66 (1) 2020        


Empower the world

with scientific knowledge

Our publications are supported by a team of 
internationally renowned subject-expert editors and 
peer reviewers, and distributed in over 125 countries. 

Publish with Canadian Science Publishing

Botany is an international journal for plant biology. 

Canadian Journal of Plant Science is an international journal for

   continental climate agriculture.

Genome is an international journal for genetics and genomics.  

FACETS is an open access journal for multidisciplinary research.

Join CSP's global community of researchers 
and choose the publication that’s right for 
your manuscript.

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By Min Ya and Shelly Gaynor 

BSA Student Representatives

We hope you’re doing well during this strange 

and chaotic time! In this issue, we are updating 

you about our Botany conference, as well as 

the resources and opportunities to interact 

with and benefit from BSA remotely—we 

want  to  make  sure  you  have  all  the 

support you need from your society.



#Botany2020 is going online! While we are 

sad that we can’t get together in person in 

beautiful Alaska, this is the right decision 

from the conference organizing leadership. 

Transition to online doesn’t mean that it 

will be a less-engaging conference, however, 

and the online platform will provide us with 

many opportunities that we couldn’t have in 

a in-person conference. Now we are truly all 

“going” to Botany 2020 together! We will still 

plan a number of student-based events, such as 

BSA sci-commer takeover, the virtual Careers 

in Botany Luncheon, and CV coach sessions. 

We will also try to give out simple instructions 

of how to use the online platform and how to 

prepare/pre-record your talks—stay tuned 

and stay excited! Make sure to follow the BSA 

social media accounts (Facebook: Botanical 

Society of America; Twitter: @Botanical_; 

and Instagram: @botanicalsocietyofamerica) 

and us (@ShellyGaynor and @0_minyaaa) to 

get the latest updates. For more information 

regarding the conference, visit http://2020.

A few questions you might have in mind about 

the Botany conference:

Q: When is the abstract submission 


A: The extended deadline is May 


Q: Will we have a Botany conference 

in Alaska again?

A: Yes! #Botany2022 has been 

scheduled to be in Alaska.

Q: What happened to the travel 

awards that I applied to this year?

Update on Botany Conference, 

Student Opportunities, and More

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PSB 66 (1) 2020


A: We won’t issue any money related 

to travel awards because there’s 

unfortunately no travel this year. 

However, for the travel awards that 

you have put together an application 

for, you will still be evaluated and 

potentially awarded, which you can 

put on your CV/resume. We will 

suspend the new travel award lottery 

system that we allocated to support 

travel to Alaska this year, but the 

funding and system will be in place 

when we have a physical conference 

in Alaska again.

Q: Will we have fewer awards in the 

next year since everything is not 

doing well financially?

A: We are not 100% sure for now but 

we are fairly confident that this will 

NOT happen! Supporting student 

development and research is a priority 

of BSA, and decreasing student funding 

will be the last thing to talk about on 

the table!


Looking for ways to interact with BSA? We 

have compiled a list of resources for you to stay 

informed and stay in touch with our society:






• Submit a book review

• Contribute to the PSB Student Section:

submit a short article (no more than 1000


• Other opportunities: if you have ideas

you want to share, email us (Shelly:; Minya:


We want to know about your SciComm 

interests! Email us (Shelly: michellegaynor@; Minya: or

connect to us on Twitter (@ShellyGaynor and

@0_minyaaa) about your channel/blog, let us

know how we can help you to connect to other

SciCommers, and promote your channels

among our BSA community!



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In Memoriam 




Robert Kaul in 2010.  [Photo by James Ducey 


Robert B. Kaul, plant morphologist and 

foremost expert on the flora of Nebraska, died 

in Lincoln on November 14, 2019. Bob was 

born in Faribault, Minnesota, and was the 

eldest of four sons. He developed an interest 

in plants as a young man and obtained three 

degrees in botany from the University of 


For his Ph.D., Bob worked with Ernst Abbe 

on a phylogenetic study of the flowers of 

the Butomaceae and the Hydrocharitaceae.  

While a student of Abbe’s, he was able to travel 

in India, Ceylon, Singapore, the Philippines, 

and other places to collect plants for Abbe, 

for the herbarium, and for his own thesis.  He 

also served as a field assistant to Abbe on an 

expedition to Mt. Kinabalu in the Malaysian 

state of Sabah in Borneo.  Years later, when he 

discovered that I had very limited herbarium 

material to support my plant morphology 

class, he shared with me duplicate specimens 

of some of the beautiful ferns he had collected 


After obtaining his Ph.D. in 1964, Bob joined 

the faculty at the University of Nebraska-

Lincoln (UNL).  For 36 years, he taught 

assorted courses in botany, plant anatomy, 

plant morphology, and local flora, all of which 

gave him joy.  He served as main advisor for 

more than a dozen graduate students and 

as a committee member and consultant for 

countless others.  His students took many 

approaches in their studies; all that he required 

of them was that they had a sincere interest in 


Bob published extensively on morphology, 

ontogeny, and phylogeny, specializing on 

aquatic monocot families at first, and later 

on various dicot families, in particular on the 

Fagaceae of the Far East, continuing work that 

had been started by Abbe. Bob received major 

NSF grants for his morphological studies in 

1967, 1971, 1979, 1982, and 1985, resulting in 

numerous published papers.  In addition to his 

skill in research, he had considerable artistic 

ability, so many of his publications were 

illustrated with his handsome line drawings.

I arrived in Omaha in 1967, a new Ph.D. from 

the University of Washington, to teach at 

the University of Omaha, which was soon to 

become the Omaha campus of the University 

of Nebraska.  Bob contacted me immediately, 

having learned of my arrival from a mutual 

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PSB 66 (1) 2020        


friend in Seattle.  We promptly began 

professional collaborations and developed a 

treasured friendship that lasted more than 52 

years.  During that time, we regularly traveled 

throughout Nebraska for the collection of 

vascular plants.  Additionally, I served as 

his field assistant on trips to collect floating 

leaves in Florida, and to gather Freycinetia 

(Pandanaceae) in Hawaii.  Outside of 

professional interests, we took a few other 

trips, such as a trip to England in 1975, where 

we visited Kew Gardens and attended the 

Chelsea Flower Show. 

In 1976, Bob married Martha Naugler, whom 

he met when he was teaching and both were 

doing research at Cedar Point Biological 

Station. Martha, with many interests that 

paralleled Bob’s, was beneficial to his health 

and well-being. She made sure that both of 

them maintained a healthful diet, and she 

always had a cheerful outlook. Martha and 

Bob, in their more than 40 years together, grew 

a garden in Lincoln that was the showplace of 

the neighborhood. On trips where the three 

of us traveled together, I always appreciated 

Martha’s helpfulness and her acute sense of 

humor. Her untimely death in 2017 was a 

tragic and unexpected blow to Bob.

At all times during his career at UNL, Bob 

maintained an interest in the botany of 

Nebraska and made frequent collections 

throughout the state. In the early ’70s, Bob 

began to publish on floristics of the Great 

Plains and the history and distribution of the 

flora in addition to his morphological work. 

He and I were both involved the production 

of the Atlas of the Flora of the Great Plains and 

the NSF-supported Flora of the Great Plains

Bob produced and collaborated with others 

on numerous publications on the state’s flora, 

and he authored two editions of a colorful 

map of the state’s vegetation, the second in 

collaboration with Steven Rolfsmeier. He 

answered innumerable questions about plants 

from students, biologists, and the public. I 

always asked for input from Bob whenever I 

had a question about a plant, whether native, 

naturalized, cultivated, or exotic. Bob served 

as editor of the Transactions of The Nebraska 

Academy of Science for 16 years (1987–2002). 

He was a founding member of The Nebraska 

Native Plant Society and a great resource 

for that group; they recently renamed their 

research award for him.  He was also involved 

with  Flora of North America. He wrote 

the treatments for the Platanaceae and the 

Sparganiaceae and reviewed many others.  

After his retirement from teaching in 2000, 

he published, with Steven Rolfsmeier and 

me, two editions of The Flora of Nebraska, a 

book that included distribution maps, keys, 

descriptions, and discussions for all the plants 

known to grow outside of cultivation in the 

state. All of the introductory material and a 

Robert Kaul with David Sutherland, August 

1991, in front of Courthouse Rock, Nebraska. 

[Photo by Martha Kaul]

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PSB 66 (1) 2020        


majority of the family treatments in that flora 

were written by Bob. Also in his retirement, 

Bob took over in 2003 as unpaid Interim 

Director of the Bessey Herbarium, a vital 

resource for all botanists within the state. 

When the Museum had a funding cutback 

in 2004, he became a volunteer Curator and 

Research Professor, a position he held until 

his health failed in August of 2019. At that 

time, in addition to work on databasing the 

Nebraska collections, he was collaborating 

with several colleagues on a new list of 

Nebraska bryophytes. 

Bob was also very interested in the history of 

Nebraska collectors. He and I recently edited 

Per Axel Rydberg’s Collecting Trips to Western 

Nebraska in 1889 and 1891, and, just before 

he became ill, he was studying the life and 

botanical contributions of William Cleburne 

of Omaha.  

The Friends of University of Nebraska State 

Museum awarded Bob the Anderson Award 

for his meritorious service and dedication to 

the museum in 2015.  In October 2019, he 

received the Nebraska Natural Legacy Award 

from the Nebraska Natural Legacy Project, 

a consortium of agencies and organizations 

interested in conservation that is coordinated 

by Nebraska Game and Parks.  Quoting the 

nomination for the Legacy Award: “Two 

characteristics that make [Dr. Kaul] so beloved 

[are] that he treats everyone equally and helps 

everyone he can.” Bob’s importance to the 

community at large is also reflected in the 

$5000 gift that an anonymous donor recently 

made to the Lincoln Parks Foundation in his 

name to support the purchase and planting 

of trees in Lincoln. Bob’s contributions to the 

botanical science and to the botany of the 

region have been profound. He will be deeply 


-David M. Sutherland, Professor Emeritus, 

University of Nebraska at Omaha. (dsuther-

In Memoriam 



Dr. Michael Sean Kinney passed away on 

October 28, 2019, at the age of 47. He was an 

alumnus of Claremont Graduate University’s 

Botany Program, which is located at and 

administered by Rancho Santa Ana Botanic 

Garden (RSABG), Claremont, California.

Following his graduation from the University 

of California, San Diego, in 1995 with a B.S. 

in molecular biology, Mike began his doctoral 

studies at RSABG in 1997. Elizabeth Friar 

was his primary advisor. His dissertation 

research on sexual dimorphism in the grass 

genus  Bouteloua, in particular B. dimorpha

resulted in papers on inflorescence and floral 

development, unisexual flower evolution, and 

molecular evolution of the tasselseed2 gene. 

He also coauthored several papers on the 

phylogenetics of chloridoid grasses.

Upon filing his dissertation in 2004, Mike 

set off for Trinity College, Ireland, where he 

was a postdoctoral researcher with Trevor 

Hodkinson, Nicolas Salamin, and Vincent 

Savolainen. From 2006 to 2009 he was a 

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PSB 66 (1) 2020        


postdoc in Chris Pires’ lab at the University 

of Missouri-Columbus. Mike returned to 

California in late 2009 and was a lecturer in 

the Biology Department, University of La 

Verne, through 2015.

Mike is remembered as a warm, good-natured 

person and a well-rounded botanist. He was 

skilled in the lab and, outside of science, was 

an excellent guitarist.

-Travis Columbus, RSABG

In Memoriam



Dr. Lee Wayne Lenz, Director Emeritus of 

Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden (RSABG), 

passed away on October 27, 2019 at the age 

of 104. After a brief hospitalization, he died 

peacefully at home as was his wish. Following 

his directions, no memorial service will be 


After studying at Montana State College, 

Lenz left his childhood home on the family 

ranch near Bozeman for the University of 

Minnesota and then went on to do graduate 

work at Washington University (St. Louis) in 

association with Missouri Botanical Garden. 

He completed his Ph.D. in 1948, after an 

interruption by WWII and service in the 

Navy (1942–1946). 

Lenz’s first professional 

appointment, as Assistant Botanist on the 

staff of RSABG, came as he was writing his 

dissertation. He relocated with the Garden 

from its original Santa Ana Canyon location 

near Yorba Linda in Orange County, California, 

to the current Claremont site to affiliate 

with the Claremont Colleges, specifically 

with Pomona College. In Claremont he was 

promoted to staff scientist and later took 

over as executive director from Philip Munz 

(1960), a position he held until his retirement 

in 1983. At RSABG, Lenz collaborated with 

other garden staff (including Percy Everett and 

John Dourley) to popularize native California 

plants for gardens. His 1956 book, Native 

Plants for California Gardens, was an early 

entry into the niche of native plant gardening.

Like his graduate mentor, Edgar Anderson, 

he was fascinated by hybridization and 

conducted experiments in hybridizing 

plants throughout his professional life. 

Two hybrids are particularly notable. The 

first is 


Chiranthofremontia lenzii, a hybrid 

between the Mexican monkey hand tree 

(Chiranthodendron pentadactylon) and native 

Californian  Fremontodendron (the cultivar 

‘Pacific Sunset’ was used). The cross was 

made by graduate student Austin Griffiths 

and later described by RSABG alumnus Jim 

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PSB 66 (1) 2020        


Henrickson to honor Lenz. The plant is a 

large, gangly, soft-wooded tree/shrub with 

large flowers of remarkable morphology. 

Lenz is credited with developing the first red-

flowered iris within the Pacific Coast hybrids, 

his mahogany-colored “Claremont Indian” (I. 

innominata and probably I. douglasiana). 


many hybrid irises that grace the grounds at 

RSABG are results of his work.

Lenz also made substantial contributions in 

plant systematics. His earlier years focused on 

Iris, resulting in about 15 papers, including 

a taxonomic revision of the Pacific Coast 

irises where he described two new California 

subspecies. In addition to Iris, he described 

five new monocot taxa from Mexico, including 

two in Dandya (Asparagaceae) and one each 

in  Dichelostemma  (Asparagaceae),  Hechtia 

(Bromeliaceae), and Triteleia (Asparagaceae). 

Late in his life he turned again to the 

Asparagaceae, focusing on Yucca. He described 

Y. capensis from Mexico and proposed 

recognition of Y. jaegeriana, thought by many 

to be “just” the western form of Joshua tree, Y. 

brevifolia. Lenz had a lifelong interest in the 

plants of Mexico. In the late 1940s, funded 

by the Rockefeller Foundation, he traveled 

with a team of botanists throughout Mexico 

to sample races of corn. Later, he published 

two floristic inventories in western Mexico. 

Lenz published on a number of other subjects 

over his long career, including paleobotany, 

chromosome number reports, and a biography 

of Marcus E. Jones (1986).

In retirement, Lenz continued plant research, 

but also built upon and deepened his life-long 

interest in sculpture. He is responsible for 

most of the sculptures that grace the grounds 

of RSABG; the latest of these, Open Vessel 

by Kristan Marvell, was added when he was 

well past his 100


 birthday. This was nearly 

a solo project of his, and Garden leadership 

is grateful that he had very good taste in 

sculpture and in the placement of pieces in 

the Garden. The sculpture collection is Lenz’s 

enduring legacy at RSABG.

Lenz could be seen tooling around Claremont 

in his powder-blue VW bug until four or 

five years ago (we are not certain about the 

status of his driver’s license that late in his 

life—there is a story there!). He came to the 

Garden regularly until about three years ago, 

working in his office and enjoying the Garden, 

especially several of his favorite plantings, as 

well as the sculptures.

He remained in remarkably good health for 

almost all of his 104 years. May we all be 

fortunate enough to live as healthily until we 

breathe our last!

-Lucinda McDade (RSABG), Carol Wilson 

(University of California, Berkeley), and Travis 

Columbus (RSABG)

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Birch   ................................................................................................................................................................................ 45

The Cactus Plot ......................................................................................................................................................... 47

Darwin's most wonderful plants: A tour of his botanical legacy. .................................................... 48

Flowering Plants of Trans-Pecos Texas and Adjacent Areas ......................................................... 49

Guide to the Plants of Arizona’s White Mountains ................................................................................. 51

Healing Orchids ........................................................................................................................................................... 52

The Imagination of Plants: A Book of Botanical Mythology ............................................................. 54

Introduction to Plant Fossils, 2nd ed.  ............................................................................................................ 56

Major Flowering Trees of Tropical Gardens   ........................................................................................... 57

A Naturalist Guide to the Plant Communities of Pacific Northwest  

           Dune Forests and Wetlands ................................................................................................................. 57

Orchids as Aphrodisiac, Medicine or Food ................................................................................................. 58

Palm   ................................................................................................................................................................................ 61

Primrose .......................................................................................................................................................................... 63

Rose   ................................................................................................................................................................................ 65

Sedges of the Northern Forest A Photographic Guide ........................................................................ 66

Stelar evolution and morphology in selected taxa based on the study  

          of Vascullotaxy (studio nov.) ................................................................................................................. 67

The Sunflower Family: A Guide to the Family Asteraceae of the 

          Contiguous United States  .................................................................................................................... 70


Anna Lewington 

2018. ISBN 9781789140118

Hardcover, £16.00; $27.00. 221 


Reaktion Books, Ltd., London, 


Today’s remarkable news 

report (Jensen et al., 

2019) touting birch pitch 

thought to have been 

used in prehistoric times as hafting material 

or antiseptic, prompted me to reach for 

Lewington’s  Birch. Jensen et al. describe a 

small lump of chewed birch pitch from 5700 

BP Denmark, from which they successfully 

recovered a complete ancient human genome, 

and oral microbiome DNA. In the chapter 

titled “Tree of Well-being,” Lewington 

explains that birch tar or pitch, obtained from 

the bark, is obtained by pyrolysis—effectively 

baking birch bark in airless conditions at 250° 

to 400°C in a sealed container. Birch tar has 

been hailed for its disinfecting, pain-relieving, 

fever-reducing properties. It may help sanitize 

the teeth and gums or treat a sore throat or 

cough. Lewington provides a photograph 

of the remarkable white rot fungus chaga 

(Inonotus obliquus) growing out of a birch 

trunk.  Chaga extracts have been used for 

many centuries in folk medicines for a range 

of maladies including stomach and intestinal 

problems (ulcers and gastritis), various skin 

diseases, and pain.
Lewington drafted Birch with six chapters that 

explore the cultural and ecological importance 

of birch. Its Introduction ends with the 

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impressive statistic that as street trees, birches 

can absorb more than 50% of the particulate 

dust containing toxic components generated 

by passing traffic and are among the most 

ozone tolerant trees in central Europe.
“The Natural History of Birches” introduces 

birch morphology, ecology, and its tolerance 

of a wide range of soils, such that colonizing 

birch species might be viewed as weeds. In the 

wild, they extend into multiple environments, 

industrial wastelands, and tundra, seizing 

every available terrain. Lewington details a 

major health issue related to human allergies: 

“Birch is now considered the most significant 

tree pollen to which people are allergic in the 

northern hemisphere, affecting 5-54% of the 

population of western Europe in the Spring, 

and causing reactions such as asthma, allergic 

rhinitis and conjunctivitis in Europe, North 

America and Japan.”
The longest chapter, and core of the book, is 

“Practical Birch: Materials for Life,” which 

addresses birch used for tools, utensils, 

machines, ornaments, buildings, religious 

rites, and clothing. Birch trees are extremely 

pliable. During a severe storm the birch tree 

in my yard bent almost double from the 

weight of the snow. Birches commonly bend, 

but do not break. The pliability of birch bark 

also makes it a useful material. Ancient Slavs 

used birch bark to make commodities from 

writing paper to footwear; birch bark crafts 

are among Russia’s foremost innovations. 

Birch bark canoes are notable in North 

America where they have enduring historical 

import in exploration and settlement. Inner 

birch bark yields a flour used as a famine food 

in 18


-century Scandinavia. The Clark Thread 

Factory turned birch wood spools, perfect for 

holding sewing thread. Birch brooms were 

widespread in olden days; birch wood was 

used for furniture and cabinetry. Since birch 

was regarded as the tree of health, wisdom, 

and safety, birch wood served appropriately 

for making cradles and cribs. Glassine, 

handy for interleaving pages, was made from 

birch wood pulp that was excessively beaten, 

hydrated, then highly polished. Resistant to 

oils and greases, when waxed or laminated, it’s 

nearly impermeable to air and water.
For centuries, the birch has been valued for 

its healing qualities. Birch leaves are diuretic, 

anti-inflammatory, and an effective remedy 

for cystitis and other urinary infections.  It 

has been used to treat gout, rheumatism, and 

mild arthritic pain. Merely strolling in a birch 

grove is thought to help one be happy and 

healthy, and touching a birch tree is believed 

to restore emotional balance and reduce stress 

levels. Birch sap is viewed as a tonic, praised 

for its health benefits. 
Reviewing the archaeological record 

related to birch, Lewington seems to have a 

Eurocentric focus, hence findings from the 

ancient Near East are omitted. Excavations at 

the site of Gegharot in north central Armenia 

(Jude et al., 2016) produced a large quantity 

of well-preserved charcoals: “Across the 

floors and pits of the Early and Late Bronze 

Age, all taxonomic assemblages showed the 

clear dominance of birch (Betula).” “Some 

observations of the last ring before the bark 

on birch revealed a tree death mostly from 

October to May (71.4%).” “According to the 

results of this study, at least two Early Bronze 

Age biotopes were identified. The clearest one 

was an open woodland with birch.”
“The Lady of the Woods: Images of Birch” 

describes the tributes to the birch from global 

culture and traditions, found in art, songs, 

poems, and folk tales. Birches are a popular 

subject for artists, particularly favored by 

Gustav Klimt, and Vincent van Gogh, who 

compared his winter landscape with bare 

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trees, Pollard Birches, “with a procession of 

orphan men.” Robert Frost immortalized 

Birches in his poem.
An ancient myth not mentioned by Lewington, 

from Russian peasant popular culture, is 

the Cult of Paraskeva Piatnitsa, retold by 

Matossian (1973): “Paraskeva Piatnitsa threw 

a stone at a devil (in some versions: shepherd, 

or forest spirit), and this stone shook a birch. 

She jumped up into the birch, leaving her 

footprint on the stone. In memory of this, the 

peasants hang a long shepherd’s whip on the 

Lewington’s best-known book may be Plants 

for People (2003), a study of the myriad ways 

that products from plants support our daily 

lives. Birch, with 115 illustrations (91 in color), 

closes with Reaktion’s standard Timeline, 

references to each chapter, select bibliography, 

list of birch associations and websites, and 

8+page index. 


Jensen TZT, Niemann J, Iversen KH et al. 2019. A 

5700 year-old human genome and oral microbiome 

from chewed birch pitch. Nature Communications 10: 

5520 doi:10.1038/s41467-019-13549-9
Jude F, Marguerie D, Badalyan R, Smith AT, Delwaide 

A. 2016. Wood resource management based on 

charcoals from the Bronze Age site of Gegharot (central 

Armenia). Quaternary International 395: 31-44.
Matossian MK. 1973. In the beginning, God was a 

woman. Journal of Social History 6(3): 325-343.

–Dorothea Bedigian, Research Associate, Mis-

souri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri, 


The Cactus Plot 

Vicky Ramakka

2019. ISBN: 9781932926835

Paperback US$16.95. 276 pp. 

Artemesia Publishing, Tijeras, 


The Cactus Plot by 

Vicky Ramakka is a 

novel about the journey 

of Millie Whitehall, a 

young botanist who accepts a seasonal job 

at the Bureau of Land Management in New 

Mexico. Right away, Millie finds out her job 

is not exactly what she expected. Other than 

surveying threatened and endangered plant 

species in the Piñon area, she sees herself 

involved in an intricate mystery. 

The author explores the anxiety associated 

with the uncertainties of a life when you are a 

scientist in early career. Millie sees herself very 

far from home, living in a small town for the 

first time, trying to deal with the challenges of 

her first job in her area.

However, the most interesting aspect of the 

book is that it illustrates cleverly how the 

academic knowledge can be directly applied 

to very unexpected situations. For instance, 

Millie ends up using her knowledge in botany 

for forensic purposes.
Finally, the author does a great description of 

the job of specialists in many areas in federal 

agencies. There are also rich discussions 

emphasizing the importance of laws and 

regulations of management and 


of public lands in the United States.
It is a pleasing story with convincing 

descriptions that celebrates the important 

conservation work done in public agencies. It 

will certainly be a good resource of education 

and entertainment that will engage readers 

who are scientists and the ones who are not.

–Aline Rodrigues de Queiroz

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Darwin’s most wonder-

ful plants: A tour of his 

botanical legacy

Thompson, Ken

2019. ISBN: 9780226675671. 

Cloth: US$25; 256 pp. 

The University of Chicago 


The book begins with an 

introduction befitting 

of Charles Darwin: one that showcases the 

incredible passion with which Darwin saw 

the world while at the same time identifying 

his overlooked contributions to botany. The 

Introduction continues with a selection of 

advancements to our understanding of the 

natural world and weaves Darwin’s discoveries 

with modern research. While any attempt to 

navigate Darwin’s prolific publications can 

be overwhelming, Thompson has created 

a focused book divided into five chapters, 

each with a theme from at least one of 

Darwin’s botanical publications, such as that 

of “Insectivorous Plants” (1875), which is 

covered in Chapter 3.
The breadth of research that is evident 

throughout the book is remarkable. Not 

only has Thompson significantly evaluated 

Darwin’s publications, but he has also 

provided a vast amount of information 

on advancements in botanical research 

from plant physiology to the evolution of 

carnivory. Thompson has provided numerous 

quotes from Darwin’s publications, which 

further heighten the reader’s experience as 

Thompson’s writing flows beautifully, deftly 

weaving between information gleaned from 

Darwin’s publications, Thompson’s reflections, 

and advancements in biology beyond the 

time of Darwin. With the latter, research 

advancements from the early 1900s to present 

day are included, often indicating not just the 

brilliance of Darwin, but also how greatly he 

was ahead of his time, and rarely recognized 

for his contributions to botany. 
It is not just the research that is remarkable. 

The content in each chapter is interesting and 

engaging, provided through a conversational 

tone. Within each chapter, while explaining 

Darwin’s experiments, Thompson provides 

reflection, or even surprise, such as in the 

chapter exploring the “Power and Movement 

in Plants” (1880). Here, Thompson presents 

his initial surprise at the omission of Mimosa 

pudica (sensitive plant), acknowledging that 

Darwin mentions it in passing, due to the 

numerous individuals already investigating 

the species. From there, Thompson dives 

deeper into the subject of M. pudica

explaining how the movement of the leaves is 

generated, and that experiments harken to a 

type of memory in the plant where it becomes 

desensitized in time with frequent similar 

touches. This bridges the concept of memory 

into a discussion of plant intelligence, 

connecting it to psychological definitions of 

behavior, modern molecular biology research 

into plant perception, and concluding almost 

philosophically that modern definitions of 

intelligence simply mean not human. It was 

a fascinating conclusion to that section of the 

Another great example of the substantial 

research Thompson performed in providing 

modern connections to Darwin’s observations 

comes in Chapter One on climbing 

plants. This is perhaps where we first see 

the conversational approach with which 

Thompson wrote the book, and also a great 

example of humor. This chapter marks an 

exhaustive investigation into the direction of 

tendril growth, twiner movement, including 

the more unusual Syngonium stem, which 

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reaches out in darkness for the nearest tree, and 

the spectacular uniqueness of the chameleon 

vine. A dive into weed science research into 

ivy-leaf morning glory (Ipomoea hederacea

was especially enjoyable, as the research 

currently found no evidence to determine 

whether the amount of light or wavelengths 

of light reflected off supporting plants affect 

morning glory growth. Highlighting such a 

result, Thompson concludes with humor that, 

“morning glory obviously knows what it’s 

doing, even if we don’t know how it knows” 

Thompson has written a spectacularly 

approachable book, one conveying 

intelligence, humor, and the perfect amount of 

detail so as not to be overwhelming. While the 

text assumes some prior botanical knowledge, 

the conversational style is suitable for anyone 

with a curiosity of the natural world. In fact, 

Thompson has done well to define many 

scientific terms, such as van der Waals forces, 

“the weak forces between adjacent molecules” 

(54). This discussion of van der Waals forces 

leads into a comparison of ivy glue to that of 

the ability of geckos to walk on the ceiling. It is 

these comparisons, utilizing knowledge from 

many areas of biology, that allow this book to 

reach a broad audience.
Perhaps one of the most enjoyable things about 

the book, beyond the immense research and 

surprising experiments Darwin performed 

(e.g., phototropism), is the ease with which 

this book could be used in an educational 

environment. Halfway through the first 

chapter, I identified new topics to explore in an 

undergraduate botany course, and by the time 

I reached Chapter Four on “Sex and the Single 

Plant,” I knew I would assign the book in my 

class and use it spur discussion throughout 

the semester. Not only will Thompson’s style 

of writing hold a student’s attention unlike a 

traditional textbook, but his ability to weave 

Darwin’s research with modern investigations 

and advancements in technology, allows the 

instructor to help students see the evolution 

of scientific research through time. I read 

the book entirely too quickly the first time 

because I was fascinated by the content, but 

on the second read, that is when I allowed 

myself to become immersed in the overlooked 

brilliance, and impact, Charles Darwin had 

on botanical research.

-Scott D. Gevaert

Associate Professor of Biol-

ogy, St. Louis Community College, St. Louis, MO.

Flowering Plants of Trans-

Pecos Texas and Adjacent 


A. Michael Powell and Richard D. 


2018.  ISBN 13-978-188978-59-1 

Hardcover, US$85.00.  1444 pp.  
BRIT Press

Texas is one of the largest 

and most botanically diverse states in the 

country.  It should be no surprise that its 

flora is being treated in volumes focusing 

on particular regions, rather than the entire 

state at once. Toward this goal, BRIT Press 

has released another in its Sida, Botanical 

Miscellany Series, which covers the Trans-

Pecos region of Texas and adjacent areas.
The present volume treats the eudicot and 

monocot families that occur in the 16 

counties that make up the region. The Preface 

states that the current volume is the major 

component of a planned complete vascular 

flora of the Trans-Pecos region, so I assume a 

later volume will cover lycophytes, ferns, and 

gymnosperms. Early-diverging angiosperms 

are omitted since none occur natively in 

the region. The book starts with a nice 

introduction explaining the physiography, 

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climate, soils, and vegetation of this diverse 

area. Phytogeography, species numbers, and 

botanical history are also covered. This entire 

section is filled with terrific photos showing 

the beautiful scenery of Trans-Pecos Texas.
The bulk of the book is devoted to the 

treatment of 2463 taxa in 133 families.  A key to 

families is presented, after which each family 

is treated alphabetically (with monocots after 

the eudicots) and genera and species treated 

alphabetically within the families.  Each 

family has a taxonomic description, followed 

by information about its worldwide range, 

phylogeny, and its distribution in Texas; 

each genus follows the same basic formula.  

Species do not get formal descriptions, but 

each get sections covering synonymy, detailed 

distribution data (citing specimens), habitat 

information, ecology, detailed methods for 

telling apart similar species, among other facts.  

All families, genera, and species treatments 

contain etymology.
The keys seem well-written but are laid out in 

a way that I personally don’t like.  Couplets are 

arranged so that the same numbers are always 

right next to each other.  Here is a mock-up 


1.  Leaves orbicular; flowers red. (2)
1.  Leaves lanceolate; flowers blue. (4)

2. Stems glabrous……Species A


2. Stems pubescent. (3)

I find keys that follow the below format easier 

to use, and these seem to be the norm in most 

recent floras:

1. Leaves orbicular; flowers red.

2. Stems glabrous……Species A


2. Stems pubescent….Species B

1. Leaves lanceolate; flowers blue.

3. Plant a vine…..Species C


3. Plant a shrub….Species D

This is a personal preference, of course, but 

others may also be turned off by the authors’ 

choice to write keys this way.  
Taxonomy seems up-to-date and I did not 

spot any glaring “old names”. A work of this 

size will of course have errors; the biggest 

I came across was the statement that the 

Callitrichaceae had been moved into the 

Scrophulariaceae. The former family is now 

part of the Plantaginaceae, and is treated as 

such in this work; this error may be confusing 

to users who will turn to the Scrophulariaceae 

and then not see Callitriche treated there.
Over 760 species are illustrated with 

photographs in the center of the book.  The 

photos show a nice diversity of plants from 

the region and are of good size and quality.
This is definitely a volume that anyone 

interested in the flora of Texas should own 

and another good addition to the treatment of 

this amazing state.
-John G. Zaborsky, Botany Department, 

University of Wisconsin – Madison, Madison, 

Wisconsin, USA;

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Guide to the Plants of Ari-

zona’s White Mountains 

George C. West, with contribu-

tions by Julie Hammonds

2019. ISBN-13 9780826360694 

Paperback, US$29.95. xix + 504 


University of New Mexico Press, 

Albuquerque, NM, USA   

Surprisingly, as the second highest mountain 

range in Arizona, White Mountains (1500–

3481 m) seem to be botanically a rather 

neglected area in this state. There has been 

no published flora or checklist of vascular 

plants growing in this region (a checklist 

of 244 species of lichens was published by 

Nash, 1977). By my count, 424 native and 

36 introduced vascular plant species are 

described and illustrated by color photographs 

in the book under review. These are mostly 

common and conspicuous species, and 

we may only guess what proportion of the 

region’s flora is actually covered by this Guide. 

The book’s statement that “over 500 species 

of vascular plants are concentrated in these 

mountains” (p. vi) is undoubtedly correct. 

In much smaller areas in Arizona, over 700 

species have been documented (Rink, 2005, 

and Table 1 in Austin, 2010).
The guide is organized into three parts: 

“Trees” (37 species), “Plants other than trees” 

(418 species), and “Ferns” (5 species). Plants 

in the second part are arranged first by flower 

color (white, pink, magenta, etc.). Within each 

color, plants are arranged alphabetically by 

scientific family name, then alphabetically by 

genus and species within each family. Grasses, 

sedges (with one exception), and horsetails 

are not included. Ferns are also highly 

underrepresented. I would expect about 25 

fern species in this area; for example, four 

species of Botrychium (genus not included in 

the Guide) are known from Mount Baldy. 

Two or more high-quality photographs 

illustrate most of the species. Information 

on all species that are listed is concise and 

accurate. The only correction I would make is 

that Cerastium fontanum is in fact non-native, 

introduced from Europe. The nativity status 

of Bidens pilosa in Arizona is questionable. 

In spite of its limited coverage, Guide to the 

Plants of Arizona’s White Mountains will be 

very useful for all botanists and amateurs 

enjoying this relatively cool, mostly coniferous, 

volcanic area in Navajo and Apache counties.


Austin, D. F. 2010. Baboquivari Mountain Plants. The 

University of Arizona Press, Tucson, USA.
Nash, T. H. 1977. Lichens of the White Mountains, 

Arizona. Journal of the Arizona Academy of Science

12: 53-56.
Rink, G. 2005. A checklist of the vascular flora of Can-

yon de Chelly National Monument, Apache County, 

Arizona. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 132: 


–Marcel Rejmánek, Department of Evolution 

and Ecology, University of California, Davis, 

CA 95616

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Healing Orchids

Hong Hai and Soh Shan Bin

ISBN 978-981-120-529-3 (hard 

cover); ISBN 978-981-120-644-3 

(soft cover); 978-981-120-531-6 


Color and B&W illustrations, 133 pp.

Hard cover: $68.00; soft cover: 

$37.00; e-book: $30.00

Web pages:


World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte Ltd, 5 Toh Tuck 

Link, Singapore 596224

That orchid flowers, and in very few cases 

leaves, can soothe the soul by their beauty is 

well known. Less well known is the extensive 

use of orchids in herbal medicine (Lawler, 

1984; Teoh, 2016, 2019). Almost completely 

unknown is the fact that some orchids, which 

are used in herbal medicine, actually contain 

substances that justify their use. 
This little book (20.5 cm by 13.5 cm) deals with 

many aspects of the medicinal uses of orchids. 

It was published on the “occasion to celebrate 

the 80th birthday of Professor Choy Sin Hew, 

an eminent [orchid] researcher...,” which is a 

richly deserved honor. [Full disclosure: Choy 

sin, a recipient of the Singapore science medal/

award, has been a good friend for many years; 

he and I have published together.] Seven 

orchid genera are covered in its nine chapters.
Chapter one deals with orchids in general, 

repeats several well-known facts, and 

introduces the genera, which are discussed in 

subsequent chapters. It also adds an “exotic 

story,” which is new to me, about the origin of 

an orchid: A Filipino (sic) Queen who climbed 

a tree to wait for her husband to return from 

battle, transformed herself into the blue 

Vanda coerulea, a color which matches her 

gown. An often repeated, less exotic story 

(not mentioned in this book), is that some 

European orchids originated from semen of 

copulating goats and thrushes, which fell to 

the ground and fermented.
The second chapter (all four and a half pages 

of it) deals with several chemicals, which 

could be active medicinal principles, in 

orchids. It mentions alkaloids and indicates 

that the genus Dendrobium is the richest of 

all orchids in these substances. However, it 

fails to indicate that many alkaloids have also 

been found in Phalaenopsis. Phenanthrenes 

are mentioned because some of them have 

anti-cancer properties without indicating 

that in orchids these substances are usually 

phytoalexins, which are treated separately in 

a short paragraph.  Orchids produce a very 

large number of phenanthrene and bibenzyl 

phytoalexins, which can be species- and/or 

genus- specific, following penetration by their 

mycorrhizal fungi. Stilbenoids, which can also 

be phytoalexins, are mentioned too. On the 

whole this chapter is telegraphic, superficial 

and does not synthesize the information well.
Dendrobium, one of the largest orchid genera 

(1200-more than 1800 species and thousands 

of hybrids, some of which are grown for cut 

flowers), is the subject of chapter 3. Many 

Dendrobium species are used in herbal 

medicine. Because of that some species have 

been the subject of extensive clinical studies. 

At least two compounds isolated from 

Dendrobium, denbinobin and erianin have 

cytotoxic effects on human cancer cells in 

vitro. We can only hope that further studies of 

these and related substances will lead to actual 

medicines. Like its predecessor this chapter 

leaves some to be desired.
Gastrodia is a leafless, chlorophyll-free orchid 

genus. It can be parasitic the Armillaria 

fungus, which in turn parasitizes another 

flowering plant. Therefore, Gastrodia is 

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an epiparasite. Gastrodia elata (chapter 4) 

is included in one of the earliest Chinese 

herbals. In China it is generally used for the 

treatment of symptoms related to nerves. It 

has been studied extensively medicinally and 

a number of active principles were isolated. 

This chapter (by Ping-Chung Leung of the 

Chinese University of Hong Kong) is longer 

than its predecessors, well focused, well 

written and informative.
Bletilla (chapter 5) is used in herbal medicine 

as a cure for bleeding, cuts and ulcers. 

Polysaccharides isolated from this orchid 

have effects, which may explain its traditional 

use in herbal medicine. This chapter is short, 

clear and to the point.
Vanilla, the only orchid grown in plantations 

and routinely consumed by humans, is the 

subject of the longest and best-rounded 

chapter (6) in the book by Dr. Eng Soon 

Teoh (full disclosure: he and I have been 

friends since 1974). Different Vanilla species 

have been used in herbal medicine, as an 

aphrodisiac, and (ironically, perhaps) to treat 

a problem which may arise when aphrodisiacs 

are effective: syphilis. 
The Vanda chapter (No. 7) starts with an error 

regarding the origins of Vanda Miss Joaquim, 

a natural hybrid, which is the national flower 

of Singapore. This Vanda has no medicinal use. 

Why is it included in this book? The (almost 

offensive) title of the nonsensical article on 

which the author base their conclusion/

statement about the origin of this Vanda hybrid 

is a warning about its validity: “Blooming lies, 

the Vanda Miss Joaquim Story” (“blooming” 

is a rude word, one definition of, which in  

the  urban  dictionary  is  “a  colloquial  term  

used  for  emphasis  to  add  frustration  and  


define.php?term=blooming).  Its authors 

are a nationalist with no orchid expertise, 

a children’s book co-author who is not an 

orchid expert and an ill-informed orchid 

hobby grower (Wright, Locke and Johnson, 

2018). And, this magnum opus was published 

in a quarterly, which is not peer reviewed. 

Furthermore, the “facts” on, which this article 

(Wright et al., 2018) is based are derived from: 

1) a self-published book (Wright, 2006 and 

note related to it below), and 2) unscientific 

and nationalistic drivel published in hobby 

magazines, clearly indicate lack of veracity. 
The authors of this book should not have 

based their conclusion about the origin of 

Vanda Miss Joaquim on this nonsensical, 

self-serving balderdash (Wright, Locke and 

Johnson, 2018). Scientifically and historically 

correct, well substantiated information about 

the origin of Vanda Miss Joaquim is available 

in three books (Teoh, 1998, 1982; Hew, Yam 

and Arditti, 2002) and a book chapter (Arditti 

and Hew, 2007), all of, which, are peer 

Be all this as it may, several Vanda species have 

been used in herbal medicine in China, India 

and Thailand. Biomedical studies isolated two 

anti-inflammatory compounds, which may 

justify the herbal usage. This chapter is short 

and informative.
Entire plants, and/or different parts of 

Cypripedium, as herbal medicines in China, 

India, Nepal, North America and Taiwan 

(chapter 8). No active substances have been 

isolated from these orchids. The same is true 

for Habenaria (chapter 9).
There are several problems with this 

book. One is that its index (11/4 pages) is 

limited to a listing of plant names.  Another 

problem is that chapter styles differ. In some 

chapters, sections are numbered even if the 

numbers serve no useful functions. There is 

no numbering in other chapters. Citation 

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formats also vary from chapter to chapter. 

This is confusing and makes finding citations 

difficult. Responsibility for this morass and the 

absence of a proper index is the publisher’s.
As a means of generating interest in biochemical 

and biomedical studies of orchids, which are 

used in herbal medicine, this book performs a 

somewhat useful function. It is also an almost 

OK popular book, but its scientific value is 

modest at best. Its price is certainly excessive. 

Professor Hew deserves a better celebration of 

his 80th birthday.


Arditti, J and C. S. Hew. 2007. The origin of Vanda 

Miss Joaquim. Pages 261-309 in K. M.Cameron, J. 

Arditti and T. Kull (ed), Orchid Biology, Reviews and 

Perspectives, Vol IX. The New York Botanical Garden, 

Press, New York, NY. 
Hew, C. S., T. W. Yam, and J. Arditti. 2002. Biology 

of Vanda Miss  Joaquim. Singapore University Press, 

Lawler, L. J. 1984. Ethnobotany of orchids. In J. Arditti 

(ed.), Orchid Biology, Reviews and Perspectives, Vol. 

III, pp. 27-149. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY. 
Teoh, E. S. 1998.  A Joy Forever: Vanda Miss Joaquim, 

Singapore National Flower. Times Editions, Singapore.
Teoh, E. S. 1982.  A Joy Forever: Vanda Miss Joaquim, 

Singapore National Flower. Times Books Internation-

al, Singapore.
Teoh, E. S. 2016. Medicinal Orchids of Asia. Springer 

International Publishing, Switzerland.
Teoh, E. S. 2019. Orchids as Aphrodisiacs, Medicine 

or Food. Springer Nature, Switzerland.
Wright, N. H. 2003 Respected Citizens: The History of 

Armenians in Singapore and Malaysia. Amasia Pub-

lishing, Victoria, Australia. Note: This is a self-pub-

lished book. Amasia Publishing was established by its 

author just to publish it.
Wright, N. H. 2006. Respektabelnie grazhdane. Aniv, 

Volume 1, No. 1. In Russian, no pagination on line,


Note:  “Рукопись  книги  была  закончена  только 

в  2002  году.  К  моему  разочарованию  ни  одно 

издательство  ею  не  заинтересовалось  (not  even  a 

single  publisher  was  interested)  —  по  их  мнению, 

книга была слишком велика, подробна и не сулила 

прибыли. Ни одна армянская организация также не 

взялась  за  финансирование  издания”  (not  a  single 

Armenian organization was willing to finance publica-

tion). A more detailed English translation by a Russian 

orchid expert is available on page 309 in Arditti and 

Hew, 2007. 
Wright, N., L. Locke, and H. Johnson. 2018. Blooming 

lies: The Vanda Miss Joaquim story. Biblioasia 14(1): 

2-24 (downloaded on 8 September 2019).

--Joseph Arditti, Professor of Biology Emeritus, 

University of California, Irvine.

The Imagination of 

Plants: A Book of 

Botanical Mythology

Matthew Hall

2019. ISBN: 978-1-4384-


Hardcover, $95.00; 

paperback, $30.95. 298 pp. 

State University of New York 

Press, Albany, NY

It seems particularly appropriate to be reading 

The Imagination of Plants: A Book of Botanical 

Mythology, during the last week of September 

2019, when heroic Greta Thunberg helped 

launch a global youth movement calling for 

action on climate change, led a worldwide 

demonstration in defense of the environment 

and delivered an emotional address at the 

United Nations Climate Summit. 
The Imagination of Plants is the book that 

I have desired to read, for many years. Rich 

in resources about the role of plants in 

mythology, it reviews a universal collection of 

tales that involve plant species, combined with 

reminders of environmental devastation of the 

natural world, that should be required reading 

for legislators and corporate executives. Hall’s 

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Introduction condemns anthropocentrism, 

because “it lurks behind our society’s rampant 

disregard for nature and the widespread and 

ongoing degradation of natural ecosystems” 

(citing Val Plumwood (p. xxiv). Hall states: 

“Not only is this planet now at risk of 

ecological collapse, it is a duller, less vibrant 

world in which the presence, abilities and 

needs of other species are obscured behind a 

cloud of human exceptionalism” (p. xxv).
The legends represent a range in chronology, 

from earliest antiquity to poetry spoken by 

Australian Kakadu senior elder Bill Neidjie, 

the last surviving speaker of the Gaagudju 

language, who died in 2002. While some 

Biblical, Greek, and Roman sources are 

familiar to European readers, Hall reached 

back into Old Norse mythology, the Vedas, 

Zoroastrian cosmogony, the Mahābhārata, 

the Paranas, Mayan myths, Māori history, 

Japanese chronicles, Buddhist texts, Zuni and 

Inca fables, and more.
Combining commentary based on original 

research with ancient legends and applicable 

illustrations, Hall expands reader perspectives 

on these botanical myths. The subject is 

organized under the following headings: 

Roots, Gods, Metamorphosis, Legend, 

Sentience, Violence, and the Epilogue: 

Imagination and Beyond. Indispensable 

supplementary material is available in the 

22-page Guide to the Texts: Hall’s synopsis 

of each of the scriptures; 24-page Notes to 

sources; 12-page Bibliography, and a 4-page 

comprehensive Index. Skimming the list 

of plants included, I see oak and pine are 

prominent. While the species included are by 

no means comprehensive, Hall is a pioneer 

who has appreciated these ancient teachings 

about morality as well as medicine, and 

initiated assembly of a compendium of a 

vast literature from which he and others can 


Matthew Hall is Associate Director of Research 

Services at Victoria University of Wellington, 

New Zealand, whose research examines the 

relationships between people and plants. His 

first book, Plants as Persons: A Philosophical 

Botany, scrutinizes the dismissiveness toward 

plants as passive and inert.
The legends will be understandable and 

appreciated by lay readers. However, this is an 

impressive, thoroughly documented scholarly 

work that may be valuable to those involved 

in investigating social and cultural aspects 

of botany, as well as comparative religion, 

environmental philosophy, environmental 

studies, myth, and religion.
–Dorothea Bedigian, Research Associate, Mis-

souri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri, 


Introduction to Plant 

Fossils, ed 2 

Cleal, Christopher J. and Barry 

A. Thomas. 

2019. ISBN: 9781108483445. 

Paper, US$49.99, 232 pp.

Cambridge University Press, 

Cambridge, UK

If you have ever wondered 

things like: What is a 

plant? How do they turn into fossils? What 

types of plant fossils are there? Where are 

they found? Why and how do we study them?  

Then  Introduction to Plant Fossils, ed 2, by 

Christopher Cleal and Barry A. Thomas may 

be ideal for you. This book tries to answer 

those types of questions in its first chapter, 

and then elaborates much more. 
In Chapter 2, we are introduced to the work 

of some of the pioneers of the study of plant 

fossils, such as Scholetim, Sternberg, and 

Brongniart, and the people that helped to 

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forge paleobotany as a discipline afterwards. 

Chapter 3 discusses some of the various ways 

to study plant fossils, starting from the more 

traditional methods that involve no more 

than observation with the naked eye and 

maybe a dissecting microscope, to advanced 

techniques to reconstruct, in 3-D, each of the 

cells that made up the fossil plants by means 

of synchrotron x-ray micro-computed-

tomography. The aspects concerning how to 

name plant fossils and how to reconstruct 

whole plants from each of their parts is also 

discussed in this chapter.
Chapters 4 through 10 discuss most of the 

major groups of land plants, past and present, 

starting with the first plants that were adapted 

to live on land in the Late Silurian. Chapter 5 

discusses the Lycophytes, a group that contains 

some of the main and largest constituents 

of Carboniferous swamp environment and 

that are represented by small plants today. 

In Chapter 6 we are presented with the 

Sphenophytes, a diverse group that produced 

large trees during the Carboniferous, but that 

today are solely represented by the genus 

Equisetum. Chapter 7 presents an overview 

of the great diversity of past and present 

ferns. In chapter 8, various lineages of extinct 

gymnosperms are discussed (e.g., seedferns, 

Bennettitales), and in Chapter 9 we are 

presented with most groups of gymnosperms 

that we can see today. Chapter 10 discusses 

the angiosperms, a group that appears in the 

fossil record as recently as the Cretaceous, 

but that dominates most of the modern land 

environments. Finally, in Chapter 10 there is a 

quick review of the history of land vegetation, 

showing how all of these elements interacted 

with each other and their environment, 

and how plate tectonics, extinctions and 

evolution modeled their current diversity and 


The language of the book is quite clear and 

straightforward. Most of the figures are in black 

and white, and at the end of each chapter there 

is a useful list of articles with further reading 

suggestions. I consider it worth mentioning 

here that, as it is stated in its preface, this book 

offers a view of fossil plants mainly focused 

on the Northern Hemisphere, and thus, there 

are only a few mentions about the fossils from 

the Southern Hemisphere. If you would like to 

learn more about those plants, you may want 

to check out Stewart and Rothwell (1993) or 

Taylor et al. (2009). Also, the historic section 

may be enriched in future editions of the book 

by discussing a little bit more about the work 

of the women that also helped to build the 

discipline, such as Isabel Cookson, Suzanne 

Leclercq, and Edna Plumstead, because there 

are no more than brief mentions to the work 

of a couple of them.
This edition is great for everyone interested 

in fossils, plants, and (specially) fossil plants, 

being especially useful for those starting to 

study plant evolution and paleobotany. It may 

also be of interest for everyone who ever found 

a piece of petrified wood and wanted to learn 

more about it, and about all of the wonderful 

and strange plants that inhabited the earth a 

long time ago.


Stewart, W. N. and G. W. Rothwell. 1993. Paleobota-

ny and the evolution of plants. Cambridge University 

Press, Cambridge, UK.
Taylor, T. N., E. L. Taylor, and M. Krings. 2009. Paleo-

botany: The biology and evolution of fossil plants, ed 

2. Academic Press, Amsterdam, Netherlands. 

—Andrés Elgorriaga, Museo Paleontologico 

Egidio Feruglio.

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Major Flowering Trees of 

Tropical Gardens

By M. S. Swaminathan and S. L. 


2019. ISBN-13: 978-1108481953 

Hardcover: $99.99; 416 pp.

Cambridge University Press, Cam-

bridge, UK. 

This attractive volume, 

abundantly illustrated with many color 

figures, gives a descriptive treatment of some 

200 tropical tree species widely cultivated in 

ornamental gardens, with apparent emphasis 

on those located in India. Each entry begins 

with common names, the Latin name 

including synonyms with authorities, class, 

subclass, series, order and family, followed by 

a 1- to 2-page description. The informative 

text describes in some detail each tree’s 

characteristics, its flowers and fruits, its native 

distribution, and other interesting features 

including traditional and/or commercial 

uses as well as relevant cultural-religious 

associations, particularly those related to the 

dharmic faiths of Indian origin. The majority 

of the numerous color photographs are of good 

quality, but some are markedly underexposed, 

blurry, or otherwise impaired. 
There is some ambiguity as to the focus of this 

book. A previous edition was titled Groves of 

Beauty and Plenty: An Atlas of Major Flowering 

Trees in India, with the present version 

reportedly expanded to include species 

from many other corners of the tropics and 

subtropics worldwide. The current title makes 

no mention of India, and the selection of trees 

treated does not represent the native flora of 

the region very strongly. For example, there 

is only a single member of Dipterocarpaceae 

described (the sal tree, Shorea robusta). Yet 

the book begins with a 14-page introduction 

describing the main vegetation regions of 

the Indian subcontinent. This is interesting 

information, but of unexplained relevance to 

a work titled Major Flowering Trees of Tropical 

The organization of the entries might cause 

some consternation to the plant systematist. 

The authors employ the classification system 

devised in the mid-19th century by Bentham 

and Hooker, rather than a more contemporary 

scheme reflecting phylogenetic relationships. 

At the level of family and species, the authors 

have left in place the names used in previous 

editions of this book, sometimes annotating 

them with asterisks that provide updates in 

footnotes. (For example, Sterculiaceae and 

Bombacaceae are maintained, with a footnote 

indicating that “some taxonomists have placed 

it in the family Malvaceae.”) 
Idiosyncrasies notwithstanding, this book 

provides a wealth of useful and interesting 

information for all enthusiasts of the flora of 

the tropics. 
--William B. Sanders, Florida Gulf Coast 


A Naturalist Guide to the 

Plant Communities of 

Pacific Northwest Dune 

Forests and Wetlands

George Poinar, Jr. 

2019. ISBN: 978-18889878-


Soft cover, US$25). 341 pp. 

Botanical Research Institute 

of Texas Press

George Poinar, Jr.’s 

new book, A Naturalist’s Guide to Plant 

Communities of Pacific Northwest Dune 

Forests and Wetlands, is a unique and lovely 

little guidebook. I look forward to using it 

in the field. Nonetheless, you might find the 

title a little misleading. Although the book is 

organized by plant, mushroom, and vertebrate 

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envision this book being useful to botanists 

to quickly identify at least the likely family 

of unfamiliar insects that they observe on a 

plant, and I plan to have great fun using it with 

children to treasure hunt for insects that might 

be expected on plants that they are learning.

-Ann Willyard, Hendrix College, Conway, 


species within communities, this is mostly a 

guide to the insects that are commonly found 

on each of these host species. 
Users will benefit from Poinar’s extensive 

knowledge of insects and these plant 

communities. It is very, very cool to have 

an accessible guidebook that lists the insect 

herbivores, predators, and parasites that are 

specific to each common plant or mushroom 

species in these dune habitats. This book 

would also be useful to a beginner who wants 

to learn to identify the most common plant 

and mushroom and vertebrate species, but it 

would not be the best option for those who 

want to learn how to identify those plants or 

mushrooms. There are no keys, there are no 

lists by flower color or plant habit, and you 

would need to already know the plant name to 

look it up in the index to find its page. The host 

plants are actually in alphabetical order using 

mostly Latin names, but the seven species of 

lichens are in between Iris and Lilium. The 

arrangement will seem random to beginners; 

the page heading for Iris is “Blue Flag” and the 

page heading for Lilium is “Tiger Lily” and the 

Latin names are only found in the next, not in 

the margins. This means that many users will 

need to flip through 223 pages of Dune Forest 

species or flip through 76 pages of Dune 

Wetland species to find the plant or mushroom 

of interest. While flipping through the pages, 

they can enjoy the lovely photographs of both 

plants and insects! 
My only other substantial concern is that 

the arrangement of the book emphasizes the 

fidelity of plants and their insects. Under 

“comments” for many of the insects, there are 

notes regarding their range of other associated 

species. Perhaps the level of specificity implied 

by this book’s design is accurate based on our 

present knowledge, but I was left wondering 

about some of the generalist insects. I can 

Orchids as Aphrodisiac, 

Medicine or Food

Eng Soon Teoh

2019. ISBN 978-3-030-

18254-0 (hard cover), ISBN 

978-3-030-18255-7 (e-book)

Hard cover: $68;  e-book: 


Color and B&W illustrations, 

xiii+376 pp.

Springer Nature, Switzerland

Dr. Eng soon Teoh is a physician by profession, 

scientist and writer by inclination, and orchid 

grower by avocation. [Full disclosure: we 

have been friends since 1974 and spent much 

time together, some of it in good places to 

eat, during my frequent visits to Singapore.] 

This combination of talents resulted in several 

medical books and seven excellent orchid 

books. Four are aimed at growers (Teoh, 1980, 

1994, 2005, 2011), two deal with the correct 

history of the National Flower of Singapore, 

Vanda Miss Joaquim (Teoh, 1982, 1998; for 

more on this orchid and the controversy, 

which surrounds its origin see Hew et al., 2002 

as well as Arditti and Hew, 2007), and one is 

scientific (Teoh, 2016; for a book review, see 

Arditti, 2017). His eighth and most recent 

book is a less technical companion to his 

Medicinal Orchids of Asia (Teoh, 2016). It is 

aimed at more general readers, has an added 

emphasis on the use of orchids as food and 

aphrodisiacs, and its coverage is worldwide. 

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Chapters 1 and 2 are excellent historical 

surveys of the use of orchids in medicine. The 

first chapter is more general. It goes all the way 

back to the Bible and ancient Egyptian papyri 

and states that neither mentions orchids. I 

am not aware of any studies of papyri aimed 

at finding orchids in them. However, a study 

by a secular Talmudic scholar and myself 

failed to discover mentions of orchids in the 

Bible and the Talmud (Dunn and Arditti, 

2009). [Full disclosure: the late Professor 

Arnold Samuel Dunn (1929-2014), an animal 

physiologist who studied the Talmud and the 

Bible as a secular scholar after retiring, was 

on my doctoral committee at the University 

of Southern California (1962-1965). We 

remained friends until his death.]
The second chapter approaches the subject 

through salep, a drink made from the tubers 

of certain European orchids. These are 

harvested from the wild, and this threatens 

several species with extinctions. Coverage in 

this chapter is multifaceted, extensive, and 

excellent. For example, we can learn from 

this chapter that “a basin of salep at three 

halfpence, with a slice of bread was ideal 

breakfast for a chimney-sweep.” I wonder why 

a chimney-sweep and if it will also be good for 

an old retired professor.
Tianma (meaning “horse of heaven”) is a fabled 

winged horse in Chinese mythology. The name 

was also applied to Gastrodia elata, the oldest 

orchid used in herbal medicine, to allude to 

its supposed divine origin. An older name, 

Chijian (which means “red arrow”) refers to 

the upright inflorescence whose central axis 

is red. Gastrodia elata is unusual even for an 

orchid. It lacks chlorophyll and is parasitic on 

a fungus, which in turn parasitizes another 

plant. The term for a plant that is parasitic on a 

parasite is epiparasite. Tianma is used to calm 

the liver and as a cure for a number of disorders 

of the nervous system and hypertension. 

Modern investigations suggest that it could 

be used to treat Parkinsonian disease and a 

number of other diseases. Chemical analyses 

have shown that the tubers of Gastrodia elata 

contain a large number of substances, some of 

which may have medicinal effects. This is an 

excellent chapter.
Dendrobium (which is a genus, not a family 

as stated on p. 69) is derived from two Greek 

works, dendron (tree) and bios (life). This 

suggests that the plants live on trees. Most 

species do. However, the two species of 

the genus (Dendrobium officinale and D. 

moniliforme), which have been used the 

longest in herbal medicine, are saxatilic (an 

older term is lithophytic). Therefore, the name 

given to them in Chinese is Shihu (shi, rock; 

hu, living). They are used to boost vitality 

and immunity, moisten eyes and throat, and 

improve eyesight. Many other Dendrobium 

species are used in herbal medicines for a 

variety of conditions. Contemporary research 

has shown that several compounds found 

in Dendrobium species have anti-cancer 

properties. This chapter is detailed and rich in 

Baiji is an herbal preparation made from the 

roots of the terrestrial orchid, Bletilla striata. 

It is used to treat carbuncles, festering sores, 

paralysis, inflammation, and a number of 

other ailments. Its most promising use in 

modern medicine is an embolizing agent in 

the treatment of inoperable liver cancer.  This, 

the fifth chapter, is short but very interesting. 
Chapters 6, 7, and 9-17 deal with the use of 

orchids as herbal medicines in different parts 

of the world. These chapters present a large 

amount of detailed information, are well 

written, profusely illustrated, and interesting 

to read.
The use of orchids as herbal medicines by native 

North Americans is discussed in Chapter 11. 

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Like the other geographical usage chapters (6, 

7, 9, 10, 12-17), this is a well-written, detailed, 

extensively illustrated, and interesting chapter. 

However, it fails to mention a use, which may 

generate considerable interest at present. In 

what is now British Columbia, Indian maidens 

used Calypso bulbosa to increase the size of 

their breasts.
What is now Chapter 8 should have followed 

the last geographical usage chapter as Chapter 

16 because it summarizes all chapters by 

dealing with specific substances, which are 

found in orchids. Many of these substances 

have well-defined effects and could perhaps 

find use in modern medicine. I find this 

chapter not only very interesting, but also 

extremely valuable because it calls attentions 

to substances, which could become, or lead to, 

modern medicines.
The last chapter deals very effectively 

with a challenge, which affects all orchids: 

conservation. Extinction of some species due 

to over-collection and habitat destruction is a 

real possibility.
An outstanding feature of the book is its many 

illustrations, which include color painting, 

black-and-white images, and line drawings 

of people, documents, and orchids from 

a large number of old, rare, and classical 

illustrated orchid and botany books as well as 

excellent modern color photographs by the 

author. Because of the large number of such 

illustrations, the book is not only extremely 

informative, but also very beautiful and 

presents a substantial amount of graphic 

historical information.
This book is excellent, both as a self-standing 

work and as a companion to Medicinal 

Orchids of Asia (Teoh, 2016; for a review, see 

Arditti, 2017), and an earlier review on the 

ethnobotany or orchids (Lawler, 1984). [Full 

disclosure: the late Len Lawler (University of 

Sydney) was a friend of mine.] 
However, I do have a few complaints. One 

complaint is the order of the chapters. Chapter 

7 should have followed the current Chapter 5 

as Chapter 6 and preceded current Chapter 6. 

And, as mentioned above, the current Chapter 

8 should have followed the geographical 

usage chapters. With such an arrangement, all 

geographical usage chapters will follow each 

other without interruption.
Another problem is that every chapter has its 

own list of cited literature. As a result, some 

references are cited many times. Like the order 

of chapters, this complaint is perhaps a matter 

of preference. Neither problem is serious or 

detracts from this excellent book. 
My third complaint is major: the book has no 

indexes. A book like this should have three 

indexes: persons, organisms, and general, or 

one detailed all-inclusive index. The absence 

of indexes reduces its usefulness. My opinion 

is that the responsibility for this fault lies with 

the publisher, not with the author. At one time 

indexes were prepared by authors. Currently 

this is done by publishers (at least this is the 

case with my preferred publisher, Wiley, 

which, I am sure, would not have allowed 

an excellent book like this to be published 

without indexes). Preparation of indexes is 

costly. Therefore, I think that Springer (not 

a publisher I like to work with) chose not to 

invest in good indexes. My own experience 

with Springer is that they are less interested in 

format, production quality, proper editing of a 

book, and correct presentation than in making 

money. It is sad that an excellent book like this 

one was damaged by a careless and greedy 

publisher. Springer can partially redeem itself 

by preparing indexes and posting them on 

their website.

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No matter, this is an excellent, properly 

referenced, scholarly, richly illustrated, 

beautiful, well-written, and enjoyable book, 

which should be of value and interest to orchid 

growers, medical scientists, and botanists in 



Arditti, J.  2017. Medicinal orchids of Asia. A book 

review. Plant Science Bulletin 63: 105-106.
Arditti, J., and C. S. Hew. 2007. The origin of Vanda 

Miss Joaquim. In K. M. Cameron, J. Arditti, and T. 

Kull (eds.). Orchid Biology, Reviews and Perspectives, 

Vol. IX, pp. 261-309. The New York Botanical Garden 

Press, New York, NY. 
Dunn, A. S., and J. Arditti. 2009. Are orchids men-

tioned in the bible? In T. Kull, J. Arditti, and S. M. 

Wong (eds.), Orchid Biology, Reviews and Perspec-

tives, Vol. X, pp. 141-157. Springer Science + Business 

Media B. V. The Netherlands.
Hew, C. S., T. W. Yam, and J. Arditti. 2002. Biology 

of Vanda Miss Joaquim. Singapore University  Press, 

Lawler, L. J. 1984. Ethnobotany of orchids. In J. Arditti 

(ed), Orchid Biology, Reviews  and Perspectives, Vol. 

III, pp. 27-149. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY. 
Teoh, E. S. 1980. Asian Orchids. Times Books Interna-

tional, Singapore.
Teoh, E. S. 1982.  A Joy Forever: Vanda Miss Joaquim, 

Singapore National Flower. Times Books Internation-

al, Singapore. [This book was reprinted in 2008.]
Teoh, E. S. 1994. Orchids of Asia. Times Press Inc., 

Teoh, E. S. 1998.  A Joy Forever: Vanda Miss Joaquim, 

Singapore National Flower. Times Editions, Singapore.
Teoh, E. S. 2005. Orchids of Asia, 3rd ed. Times Edi-

tions-Marshal Cavendish, Singapore.
Teoh, E. S. 2011. Orchids in a Garden City. Marshall 

Cavendish Editions, Singapore.
Teoh, E. S. 2016. Medicinal Orchids of Asia. Springer 

International Publishing, Switzerland.

-Joseph Arditti, Professor of Biology Emeritus, 

University of California, Irvine.


Fred Gray

2018. ISBN 9781780239170

Hardcover, £16.00; $27.00. 

232 pp. Reaktion Books, Ltd., 

London, UK. 

Prompted by persistent 

news reports regarding 

environmental controversies 

over the destruction of 

Indonesian and Malaysian rainforests to plant 

large tracts in monoculture of oil palm (Elaeis 

guineensis Jacq.) trees, I am studying Palm 

with somber attention. Concurrently, a deadly 

disease, lethal bronzing, is killing hundreds 

of palm trees throughout Florida; one of 

those palm species, unfortunately, is sabal 

palm, Florida’s state tree. The causal agent is 

phytoplasma, a bacterial disease spread by an 

infected vector.
The controversy surrounding the palm oil 

boom is itself made up of a range of complex 

controversies. Some members of indigenous 

communities have lost all access to land. There 

is controversy surrounding the extensive 

destruction of tropical rainforests and clearing 

carbon-rich swamps for conversion to oil palm 

monocultures, entailing a loss of biodiversity 

in Indonesia. There are major social and 

economic issues around the effects on rural 

livelihoods. The controversies surrounding 



 emissions and land use are compounded 

by the health effects of palm oil (Ntsomboh-

Ntsefong et al., 2016). 
Gray introduces Palm by way of the historic 

Palm House of the Royal Botanic Gardens 

Kew, which enjoys iconic status as one of 

the world’s most renowned surviving glass 

and iron buildings. The book’s splendid 

illustrations depict many formal settings 

where palms serve decorative roles, from 

ancient Assyrian wall reliefs to royal and 

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religious rituals. These visuals demonstrate 

a signature of the Reaktion Books Botanical 

series, expressed vividly by Palm. One hundred 

fourteen magnificent artworks, 97 in color, are 

in my view among its most valuable features, 

combining botanical details with cultural, 

historic, and economic use that would appeal 

to diverse readers, including artists, botanists, 

natural historians, and garden lovers.
Fred Gray, Emeritus Professor of Continuing 

Education at the University of Sussex, 

assembled Palm into nine chapters. “The 

Prince of Plants” publicizes the omnipresence 

of palms in our world in art, cosmetics, and 

cuisine. “Dissecting the Giant Herb” explains 

that although palms are often viewed as trees, 

botanically they are not. “The Civilizing Date” 

highlights varied links involving sacred palms 

with Christianity, ancient Egyptian, Greek, 

Roman, and Mesopotamian cultures, and 

provides data about date palm in contemporary 

farming. “Western Discovery” portrays 

coconut palm in the age of exploration by 

the Western world, displaying a Eurocentric 

worldview. “Empire and Utility” gives facts 

about the financial side pertaining to palms, 

with double entendre section headings (e.g., 

Lubricating Capitalism), incorporating the 

function that palm oil contributes to the shelf 

stability and rich mouth feel of delectable 

Belgian truffles. It reevaluates the reality of 

palm estates with illustrations of slaves on 

plantation. “Of Tigers, Plantations and Instant 

Noodles” addresses oil palm cultivation—

“often hidden from view yet increasingly 

omnipresent”—revealing the pervasive 

ubiquity of palm oil in daily life, including 

manufacture of soap, “perhaps the first 

modern Western consumer product.” “The 

Ornamental Palm” describes its symbolic 

significance since the 1500s, glamorizing 

garden landscapes. “Captive Performer” 

details the evolution of the palm house, and 

recent developments including the destination 

Eden Project in the UK, which pitches tropical 

forests into temperate areas. Where it was not 

possible to grow palms, people incorporated 

them in paintings, sculpture, carving, and clay 

models, and even adopted the use of preserved 

palms. “Abstractions and Fantasies” expands 

these elements. 
Clearly written and comprehensive, the slim 

volume with handsome endpapers closes with 

Reaktion’s standard Timeline, references to 

each chapter, a select bibliography, and a list of 

palm associations and websites. It concludes 

with a brief 6-page Index, that is, regrettably, 



Ntsomboh-Ntsefong, G., H. Ngalle-Bille, W. Ajam-

bang, B. C. Likeng-Li-Ngue, T.-M. Kingsley, J. M. 

Bell, E. Youmbi. 2016. Brief review on the controver-

sies around oil palm (Elaeis guineensis Jacq.) produc-

tion and palm oil consumption. International Journal 

of Regional Development 3: 60-75.

–Dorothea Bedigian, Research Associate, Mis-

souri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri

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Elizabeth Lawson


ISBN 978-1-789-14077-4. 

Hardcover, £16.00; $27.00. 288 pp. 

Reaktion Books, Ltd., London, 

UK, distributed by University 

of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL.

President of the American 

Primrose Society Elizabeth 

Lawson provides a thorough textbook titled 

Primrose, encompassing most species and 

hybrids belonging to the genus Primula. Her 

“Introduction: The Primrose Path” indicates 

that wild progenitors of primroses began in 

the “towering mountain ranges of the eastern 

Sino-Himalayas” where “high peaks and 

ferocious weather shaped their genetics.” 
Lawson formulated 11 chapters with 

115 color illustrations. “The Naturalist’s 

Primrose” will appeal to readers who enjoy 

detailed tales about botanical explorations 

in diverse habitats, “from woodlands to high 

limestone scree, cliffs, caves, seeps, hanging 

gardens, wetlands and boggy meadows.” 

Quoting Richard Mabey, who worked with 

photographer Tony Evans on a book project 

leading to The Flowering of Britain, “For a few 

weeks every spring and summer between 1972 

and 1978 we went on the road, following the 

primrose path across Britain…Long breaks 

for a formal picnic next to a stream, so that 

a bottle of Sauvignon could be cooling in the 

shallows, and we could review the morning’s 

“Mr. Darwin’s Primroses” involves Darwin’s 

“voluminous correspondence” as he struggled 

to gather his own data and to understand 

the assertions of his colleagues. The section 

heading “Pin and Thrum: Darwin’s Work with 

Heterostyly in Primroses” addresses Darwin’s 

work with heterostyly, a consequential issue. 

Its horticultural significance emerges in “Pin 

and Thrum as an Aesthetic Problem.”

“The Plant Hunter’s Primrose” presents, 

admiringly, the heights that aficionados 

traveled to obtain these colorful, resilient 

alpine flowers, which will satisfy the armchair 

explorer’s appetite for apices. “The Well-

bred Primrose” depicts the drama and fierce 

determination among amateur breeders, 

culminating with the discovery of Primula 

juliae, “One of the most momentous days 

in the history of the primrose” when a little 

purple-flowered primula was located near 

Tiflis Georgia, in the Caucasus.
“The Reckless Primrose” features auriculas, 

and the impact of virescence, the abnormal 

development of green pigmentation in plant 

parts that are not normally green (in the case of 

Primula, petals) and that acquire the tougher 

texture of leaves. Mealy coats (dubbed farina) 

are another phenom, caused by extruded 

mounds of crystalline needles of nearly pure 

flavone. A romantic greeting card illustration 

by Romany Soup Art, of peacocks, auriculas, 

and roses, closes the chapter.
“Cult Primroses from the East” relishes the 

atypical forms and novelties caused by genetic 

mutations that took primrose leaves into 

uncharted territories. New leaf forms included 

fern, moss-curled, parsley, and kale-leaved. 

Noted for its delicate flowers, Primula sieboldii 

is the cherry blossom, sakurasu primrose, 

native to Japan, eastern Siberia, Mongolia, 

northern China, Korea, and Manchuria.
“Writing the Primrose” features Victorian 

prose and poetry, although Lawson did not 

broaden her coverage to include primrose 

in music. “Primrose” is the title of a largely 

forgotten musical in three acts—from a book 

by Guy Bolton and George Grossmith Jr., 

lyrics by Desmond Carter and Ira Gershwin, 

and music by George Gershwin—that opened 

at the Winter Garden Theatre, London on 

September 11, 1924. One of its songs manifests 

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botanical interest by its title, “Berkeley Square 

and Kew.”
Richly illustrated, “Picturing the Primrose” 

opens with a cowslip in Paradiesgärtlein, 1410, 

a painting on oak panel, and pink, yellow, 

and red primroses flowering on the Unicorn 

Tapestries (1475-1505) at the Cloisters, the 

upper Manhattan home of the Metropolitan 

Museum of Art. Images in Herbals are 

followed by a discussion of wood engravings, 

and conclude with a computer image of 

another auricula. Not mentioned by Lawson, 

the abundance of varied Primula species in the 

Caucasus (Shetekauri et al., 2018) may have 

inspired the Noy brandy factory in Yerevan, 

Armenia to apply ornamental metallic 

primrose blossoms as a gesture of welcome on 

its massive entrance doors.
“The Beneficial, Versatile, Influential, Positive 

Primrose” is a comprehensive conclusion with 

etymological details about primrose names, 

and the diverse usage of Primula. Included is 

folklore from Devon: 
Primroses guard against dark witchcraft if 

you gather their blossoms properly: always 

thirteen or more in a bunch, and never a 

single flower. On May Day, small primrose 

bouquets were hung over farmhouse windows 

and doors to keep black magic and misfortune 

out, while allowing white magic to enter freely. 

Primroses were braided into horses’ manes 

and plaited into balls hung from the necks 

of cows and sheep as protection from pixie 

mischief…oil of primrose, rubbed on the 

eyelids, strengthened the ability to see faeries.
Healing and edible use is mentioned, 

including cowslip wine prepared from the 

slightly narcotic flower petals, and reference 

to “day-long gathering of enormous numbers 

of cowslips by the whole family, and the 

separation of the peeps, the yellow petals, from 

the rest of the flower.” An adorable illustration 

from the 1950s by Molly Brett, titled “Primrose 

Procession,” depicts hedgehogs, mice, and 

a rabbit carrying baskets of primroses along 

a primrose path. Likewise, Racey Helps’ 

painting “The Toast” depicts a merry group of 

animals, including mice, squirrel, toad, rabbit, 

bees, and cricket, seated on mushrooms 

around a toadstool, drinking cowslip wine.
The design of this well-bound book is 

appealing, especially its vivid cover photo 

and signature endpapers—in this case, bright 

pink. Standard features of the Botanical series 

include a brief Timeline, reference notes to 

each chapter, a select bibliography, a list of 

primrose associations and websites, and a 

10-page Index. Gardeners, garden historians, 

horticulturalists, and library readers will 

appreciate this serious volume.


Shetekauri, S., M. Jacoby, and T. Shetekauri. 2018. 

Mountain Flowers and Trees of Caucasia. Pelagic 

Publishing,  Exeter,  UK.  [Reviewed  in  Plant Science 

Bulletin 65(3): 205-206.]

–Dorothea Bedigian, Research Associate, Mis-

souri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri

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Catherine Horwood

2018. ISBN 9781780230132

Hardcover, £16.00; $27.00. 

238 pp. Reaktion Books, Ltd., 

London, UK. 

A perennial favorite—and 

the focus of decorators, 

fashion designers, gardeners, 

performers, perfumers and poets—is celebrated 

afresh in this compendium about the literal and 

symbolic rose. Author Catherine Horwood is a 

British social historian specializing in horticultural 

history and garden design, who here tracks the 

botanical, literary, religious, and artistic expressions 

of the rose across centuries.
The presence of ancient Persia is noticeable in 

this publication, as it is mentioned on 15 pages. 

Horwood reports that Persia was previously 

known as the “Land of Roses.” Highly 

evocative, the red rose symbolizes desire, 

passion, joy, beauty, and consummation; it is 

the flower of Venus and the blood of Adonis 

and of Christ. The white rose is the “flower 

of light”: innocence, virginity, spiritual 

unfolding, and charm. The red and white rose 

together represent the union of fire and water, 

or the union of opposites. Individually, both 

the rose (gol) and the nightingale (bolbol) are 

important motifs in Persian literature and in 

the imagery of Persian poetry.
The primal fable of the rose and the 

nightingale, an allegorical story of love and 

sacrifice, is a frequent component of Persian 

and Arab poetry, which subsequently takes on 

many incarnations. Alone, the rose served as 

a literary metaphor for perfection and beauty 

and might represent the beloved (literal or 

spiritual), the Holy Prophet Muhammad, or 

the Greek and Roman goddesses Artemis or 

Aphrodite. The sweet-singing nightingale 

might represent the lover, and selflessness. 

Annemarie Schimmel in The Encyclopaedia 

Iranica suggests that in mystical poetry, the 

nightingale’s yearning for the rose served as a 

simile for the soul’s yearning for union with 

God. The use of this theme as parable for 

spiritual and earthly love by Persian writers 

of epics, lyrical and mystical works for nearly 

1000 years, substantiates its deep significance 

in Persian culture. 
Extraction of rose essential oils also has its 

origins in Persia. Traditional copper vessels 

designed for rosewater distillation to prepare 

their treasured rose attar are displayed in 

a captivating photograph from Kashan, 

Isfahan Province. Iran was the location 

where rosewater was first distilled, more than 

2000 years ago. Nowadays in Iran, roses and 

rosewater are used in diverse ways (cosmetic, 

culinary, medicinal), and Persian verse holds 

scattered references to roses. Persian rosewater 

is so prized, that it’s often used alongside water 

from the holy Zamzam well in the biannual 

ceremonial washing of the sacred Kaaba 

shrine, inside Islam’s most sacred mosque in 

Although omitted from her treatment, 

etymologically, the Latin source of rose is 

rosa, which itself probably originates from the 

Iranian root *vrda-. Beekes (2010) indicates 

that the word is certainly borrowed from the 

East, probably like Arm[enian] vard, from Old 

Iranian *urda. Tucker (1976) interprets: “The 

rose was a special growth of Macedonia & 

the Thracian region as well as of Persia, & the 

Lat. & Gk. names prob. came from a Thraco-

Phrygian source.” Aramaic warda is from Old 

Persian; the modern Persian cognate, via the 

usual sound changes, is gul, source of Turkish 

gül “rose.”
Roses also have appeal in East Asian cultures, 

as I discovered when selecting a Chinese New 

Year’s delicacy, a shortbread-style cake baked 

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with roses (Bedigian, 2010: 473), which added 

an unexpected sophisticated flavor, finished 

with a coating of untoasted white sesame 

seeds. Rose petals are featured in another 

item available during the Lantern Festival 

(Taylor, 2005), which coincides with the date 

of the full moon. During that Festival, people 

eat yuanxiao, or small dumplings made from 

glutinous rice flour having either sweet or 

salty fillings. Sweet fillings are made of sugar, 

walnuts, sesame, rose petals, sweetened 

tangerine peel, bean paste, or jujube paste. 
The imagery Horwood presents through prose 

and photographs is romantic: from Cleopatra’s 

rose-petal–filled bed, to Empress Joséphine 

Bonaparte’s legacy, the garden retreat, 

La Malmaison. Rose  is a well-researched 

history of what is universally appreciated as 

a cherished flower. Horwood organized 11 

chapters assembled with 108 illustrations, 93 

in color, that are in my view among its most 

valuable features. Two appendices (“The 

Rose family and its groups” and “Recipes”), 

a brief Timeline, references to each chapter, a 

select bibliography, a list of rose associations 

and websites, round out the book, which 

concludes with the 10-page Index that is, 

regrettably, extremely incomplete, aside from 

proper names. 


Bedigian, D.  2010. Current market trends: critical is-

sues and economic importance of sesame. In D. Bedi-

gian, Ed. Sesame: the genus Sesamum. Medicinal and 

Aromatic  Plants  -  Industrial  Profiles  series,  pp.  423-

490. CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group, Boca Raton, 

Beekes, R. 2010. Etymological Dictionary of Greek. 

Brill, Leiden, Netherlands. 
Online Etymology Dictionary. Website: https://www.
Schimmel A. Encyclopaedia Iranica: Gol o Bolbol. 



Taylor, D. 2005. Food and Culture: Holiday foods and 

opportunities  for  U.S.  exporters  in  a  traditional  Chi-

nese Market. Peoples Republic of China, Product Brief. 

USDA  Foreign Agricultural  Service  Global Agricul-

ture Information Network [GAIN] Report CH5618.
Tucker, T. G. 1976 (reprint of 1931 edition). Etymo-

logical Dictionary of Latin. Ares Publishers, Palos 

Heights, IL. 

–Dorothea Bedigian, Research Associate, Mis-

souri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri, 


Sedges of the Northern 

Forest A Photographic 


Jenkins, Jerry



US$16.95, 96 pp.

Comstock Publishing Associ-

ates, an imprint of Cornell 

University Press

The sedges are an interesting group that I am 

always trying to improve my knowledge base 

about. I have taken Anton Reznicek’s New 

York Flora Association sedge workshop in 

New York several times, and if you ever get the 

chance, I would recommend it because anyone 

can benefit from it. This book includes an 

Introduction, a Visual Glossary about sedges, 

and a quick guide to genera, and then breaks 

them into groups and sections with tabs for 

Bolboschoenus, Carex, Cladium/Cyperus, 

Dulichium/Eleocharis, Eriophorum/

Rhynchospora, Schoenoplectus, Scirpus, and 

Scleria/Trichophorum. Due to the size of this 

book, it is probably less useful as a field guide 

and instead would be helpful if collecting 

specimens from the field for identification at 

the lab or office. The author suggests they will 

be producing a field guide in the future.
The visual glossary is outstanding and includes 

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numerous photos of structures useful for 

identification. It is probably the most thorough 

representation of identifying characters that I 

have seen in a guide. The photos are clear and 

concise with diagrams that are just as useful. 

The Sedges of Maine is the only other book that 

I can think of with good quality sedge photos, 

although the Maine guide does not break 

down the structures as well for identification 

(Arsenault et al., 2013). Wetland Plants of the 

Upper Midwest includes good drawings of the 

perigynium and more detailed keys but lacks 

photos (Chadde, 2019).
The quick guide “key” splits the sections into 

groups that seem very user-friendly, but given 

that it’s December as I write this, I don’t have 

sedges to practice on in Upstate New York. 

The diagrams with identification notes look 

like they would get you to where you need to 

be easily without much backtracking. Since 

the guide is short with a specific geographic 

region, you can always flip to the photos 

and try to make a match. The perigynia and 

spikelet photos lay out the differences nicely 

and having a tough group like the Ovales 

sedges laid out next to each other is a highlight. 

It’s potentially a topic for discussion among 

“sedgers,” a nickname for sedge enthusiasts 

coined by the author.
The book concludes with sources and 

photography, older names, a gallery, and index. 

One miss in my opinion is a sentence on page 

3 stating that sedges have slender leaves. This 

is generally the case until you consider the 

broad-leaved sedges such as Carex plantaginea 

and C. platyphylla woodland sedges with wide 

leaves that are included within the guide.


Arsenault, M., G. H. Mittelhauser, D. Cameron, A. 

C. Dibble, A. Haines, S. C. Rooney, and J. E. Weber. 

2013. Sedges of Maine: A field guide to Cyperaceae. 

712 pp. The University of Maine Press, Orono, ME. 

Chadde, S. W., 2019. Wetland plants of the upper Mid-

west: A field guide to the aquatic and wetland plants of 

Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. 579 pp. Stephen 

W. Chadde, Middletown, DE. 

David W. MacDougall, CWB® Consulting 

Biologist (



Stelar evolution and 

morphology in selected 

taxa based on the 

study of Vascullotaxy 

(studio nov.).  

Kevin R. Aulenback

2015.  ISBN:  978-0-


$59.95.  168 pp.  

Aulie Ink, Drumheller, Al-

berta, Canada

In 1983, Phil Larson stated that although Bolle 

(1939) “…proposed a theory of phyllotaxy…

implying that a stimulus propagated 

acropetally by the advancing vascular bundles 

might be responsible for initiation of the 

[leaf] primordia…was mostly overlooked 

in literature except for Jean (1978)…and 

seldom mentioned in morphology texts…” 

(pp. 37-38).  Larson supported this view 

with his Procambial Strand Hypothesis in 

a series of classic papers cited in his 1983 

paper, but it continues to be buried in the 

literature.  Aulenback has gone back to Jean 

and resurrected the “Lestiboudois-Bolle” 

theory of induction as a framework for his 

“Vascullotaxy” approach to describing the 

morphological evolution of all extinct and 

extant vascular plants.  His developmental 

approach resembles Larson except he is 

focusing on xylem whereas Larson focused 

on procambium.  Applying this approach to 

stele evolution is original and prodigiously 

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documented, but I have some caveats precisely 

because of the different developmental 

patterns of procambium and its protoxylem 

The first third of the book is an introduction, 

justification, and manual for application 

of vascullotaxy. This will be of interest to 

anatomists and morphologists as well as 

systematists and especially paleobotanists. 

Aulenback begins with a brief critique of the 

study of phyllotaxy (leaf position) and workers 

general lack of connection to the pattern of 

the underlying vasculature.  He also rightly 

critiques some traditional methods of studying 

vasculature that appear in the literature, which 

typically miss vascullotaxic transitions. It is 

ironic that he criticizes the use of clearings 

that show only xylem when this is also usually 

a bias in fossil material. He devotes a larger 

section (4+ pages) to terminology. My initial 

impression was why introduce all this new 

terminology, or redefine terms, for things that 

are already in the anatomy books? But, upon 

reflection, we’re dealing with a new concept 

and a new approach; therefore, descriptions 

must be very precisely applied and, in the 

end, less confusing to use new terms than to 

redefine commonly used existing terms.  
I found the next 25 pages or so to be the 

most interesting and useful part of the book: 

the actual formulation and examples of his 

“Laws of Sympodial Behavior”—Vascullotaxy. 

The author begins with the theoretical 

Lestiboudois-Bolle model of induction of 

successive sympodia through the Fibbonacci 

series of 1/1, 1/2, 1/3, 2/5, 3/8, 5/13, and 

8/21.  This progression was recognized by 

Larson (1983) and others to occur during 

ontogenetic development, but the addition of 

subsequent sympodial splits, which produce 

minor traces (potential sympodia) to the 

left and right of the central trace, allows 

Aulenback to explain how this vascullotactic 

progression is accomplished – and this is new 

and unique. His Figures 3 (a tri-lacunar 5/13 

series) and 4 (a pentalacunar 5/13 series) look 

very similar to typical diagrams of sympodial 

systems, such as Larson’s Figure 2.12. But the 

author next expands his diagram to show how 

retention of a formerly departing trace can 

initiate a new sympodium within the stele. 

Figure 7 diagrams progressions from a simple 

protostele, 0/1, through a 3/8 pattern, and 

Figure 8 picks up with 3/8 through 8/21. The 

process diagrammed in these figures provides 

a mechanism for increasing, or decreasing, 

the number of sympodia in a stele as one 

proceeds acropetally in a stem. 
Tied to the flattened sympodial trace diagrams 

in Figures 7 and 8 are series of diagrammatic 

cross-sections through the steles of a variety of 

taxa illustrating the evolution of different stele 

types. Variations in the number of divergent 

traces, the angles of divergence, the relative 

positions of protoxylem and metaxylem 

(exarch, mesarch, endarch) and the association 

of either disorganized proto/metaxylem 

proliferation or radially aligned proto/

metaxylem areas are used to systematically 

explain the evolution of the various stele types 

in fossil and extant vascular plants. These 

figures provide a reference for a brief survey 

of the major taxonomic lines: Polypodiidae; 

Lepidodendrales; Lycopodiales/Selaginellales; 

Cladoxylopsida; Medullosans; and Proto-

Gymnospermae/Angiospermae with each 

line diverging from a common 1/1 pattern.
“One of the least discussed yet the most 

profound development in plant evolution was 

the developmental change from branch stems 

with microphylls to reduced branch stems with 

megaphylls to bud stems with microphylls 

or advanced megaphylls” (p. 33). While it is 

true that Zimmerman’s Telome theory (1938), 

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which is generally accepted, forms megaphylls 

from three-dimensional branching axes, 

Aulenback is correct that the underlying 

branching mechanisms that can be used 

to differentiate between the various lateral 

outgrowths has been neglected.  However, his 

explanations are unsatisfactory. How does the 

original 0/1 protostele divide to form a branch?  

Based on Figure 7 it appears that rather than 

transitioning to a 1/1 with the divergence of 

a sympodial trace, the 0/1 condition would 

persist in both the original and secondary 

axis?  This is only implied in his discussion 

of why branching is not dichotomous. He 

provides a good explanation for the origin of 

microphylls, but falls short on differentiating 

between multiple traces supplying a 

megaphyll and those supplying a bud. In 

both cases traces from multiple sympodia 

are involved; the difference is whether a 

determinate or indeterminate appendage 

is being formed.  Aulenback’s distinction is 

whether or not additional proto/metaxylem is 

attracted to the branching sympodia, but this 

ignores the normal ontogenetic progression 

of procambium-protoxylem-metacambium-

metaxylem demonstrated by Larson. There 

is an association with production of radial 

proto/metaxylem, but there is no evidence 

for timing, which is essential to support his 

The processes of sporangial adnation 

in reproductive structures and lamina 

production in megaphylls are the last general 

sections covered before the detailed examples, 

from a range of taxa, which comprises the 

last two-thirds of the book. Throughout the 

text the author uses both original specimens 

and published figures from the literature. It is 

an impressive, richly illustrated, descriptive 

study. The two-page closing remarks provide 

a succinct summary of the key concepts 

addressed in the book.  

For obvious reasons, fossilization, the 

focus of this work is on xylem patterns 

in the stele. The author’s arguments track 

locations of protoxylem and metaxylem and 

differentiate between disorganized proto/

metaxylem bands and radially aligned 

proto/metaxylem as different stele patterns 

develop. But we now know that following 

only xylem development, in motile terms, 

to explain vascular development is not only 

incomplete but is easily misleading. For 

instance, the author posits that established 

regions of metaxylem direct the acropetal 

path of departing sympodial traces. But that 

is not how development works. Larson clearly 

demonstrated that procambial strands extend 

acropetally from, and are influenced by, pre-

existing sympodia and that this affects siting 

of the primordia on the shoot apex. He also 

anticipated that “biochemical differentiation 

in cells will eventually be detected in advance of 

morphological differentiation” (Larson, 1983). 

Scarpella et al. (2004) have in fact identified 

markers that identify pre-procambial cells 

developing as predicted by Larson. If xylem 

development followed the procambial 

template (phloem development does), then 

the authors’ developmental explanations 

would be supported. But xylem differentiation 

is more complex and later formed, basipetally 

extending leaf and stem bundles differentiate 

independent of the procambial template 

(Larson, 1983). Good graphic illustrations 

of the complex relationship between phloem 

and xylem differentiation in the procambium 

can be found in Figures 1 and 12 of Sundberg 

As mentioned above, the descriptions of stelar 

organization transitions provided by the 

author are a valuable contribution to many 

areas of structural botany. Furthermore, 

although several of the developmental 

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mechanisms he proposes to drive these 

transitions are not supported by our current 

understanding of vascular development, they 

raise some interesting questions that could be 

addressed using evo-devo techniques.  


Bolle, F. 1939.  Theorie der blattstellung.  Botanischer 

Verein der Provinz Brandenburg  79: 153-191. 
Jean, R.V. 1994. Phyllotaxis:  A systematic study in 

plant morphology.  Cambridge University Press. 
Larson, P. R. 1983.  Primary vascularization and the 

siting of primordial. In: Dale, J. E. and F. L. Milthorp 

(eds). The growth and functioning of leaves: Proceed-

ings of a symposium held prior to the Thirteenth In-

ternational  Botanical  Congress  at  the  University  of 

Sydney, 18-20 August, 1981, pp. 25-51.  Cambridge: 

Cambridge University Press.
Scarpella, E., P. Francis, and T Berleth.  2004.  Stage-

specific markers define early steps of procambium de-

velopment in Arabidopsis leaves and correlate termina-

tion of vein formation with mesophyll differentiation.  

Development 131: 3445-3455.
Sundberg, M. D.  1983.  Vascular development in the 

transition region of Populus deltoides Bartr. ex Marsh. 

seedlings.  American Journal of Botany 70: 735-743.
Zimmermann, W. 1938.  Die Telomtheorie.  Biologe: 

Monatsschrift zur Wahrung der Belange der Deutschen 

Biologen 7: 385-391.

-Marshall D Sundberg, Professor of Biology, 

Department of Biological Sciences, 


State University, Emporia, KS 66801

The Sunflower Family: A 

Guide to the Family  

Asteraceae of the  

Contiguous United States

Richard Spellenberg and Naida 



ISBN-13: 978-1889878-65-2

$45US. 574 pp.

Brit Press, Fort Worth, TX 76107

The Asteraceae, or Compositae, is the most 

speciose plant family, and arguably plants 

in this group have the most distinctive 

inflorescence structures. Despite the characters 

that allow the amateur botanist to quickly 

surmise that a plant is, indeed, “something in 

the Asteraceae,” the sheer breadth of diversity 

within this family can make identification at 

lower taxonomic levels more difficult. Richard 

Spellenberg and Naida Zucker, a spousal team 

who spent the majority of the careers at New 

Mexico State University, have put together a 

stunning guide to assist in the identification 

of the Asteraceae at the genus level in 


Sunflower Family: A Guide to the Family 

Asteraceae of the Contiguous United States.
The introduction to this book orients the 

amateur botanist to basic botanical terms 

and takes a much-needed look at the 

floral terminology used specifically for the 

Asteraceae, including diagrams and beautiful 

photographs describing the florets and flower 

heads that distinguish groups within the 

family. Paired with an overview of biological 

classification, the reader is now prepared to 

tackle the meat of this book: a survey of the 

tribes and genera within Asteraceae. The 

authors briefly review the different tribes 

before beginning a detailed alphabetical series 

of the 25 tribes and containing 428 genera 

found in the contiguous United States. 
This book is not a typical field guide as it lacks 

any sort of dichotomous or multichotomous 

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PSB 66 (1) 2020


key. The majority is dedicated to pages 

that detail genera organized within tribes. 

Common tribes are denoted with a color code 

at the top of the page for quick reference. 

Though the tribes are ordered alphabetically, 

genera within a given tribe are ordered form 

more “simple”-looking to more “complex”-

looking groups. 
Sections for each genus have four main parts. 

The introduction includes information on the 

number of species, geographic distribution, 

and general habitat of the genus. Following 

that is a substantial section describing 

characteristics of the genus using botanical 

terminology. The expert will be familiar with 

these types of descriptions, but the burgeoning 

plant enthusiast may need practice in parsing 

out what terms mean, even with the brief 

primer in the book’s introduction. Next is a 

section titled “Comment” that provides extra 

details such as economic impacts, human uses, 

and notable species within the genus. Some 

also have a “Compare” section that lists genera 

with which this genus may be confused. 
Each genus section has many photographs 

of representative species and morphological 

characteristics. These stunning photos serve as 

a pleasant distraction, as I found myself leafing 

through the pages of the book and marveling 

at the diversity displayed. At the back are photo 

credits and notes on all photographed species, 

including some species-level descriptions. A 

separate section titled “Waifs and Mysteries” 

discusses documented cases of extremely 

rare species or of species found well outside 

their normal distribution. Though these lack 

photographs, the title and descriptions lend 

an air of fascination to these plants as a peek 

into botanical mysteries and unanswered 


This guide does an excellent job of compiling 

and presenting information on an astounding 

number of genera; it is truly the culmination of 

a tremendous undertaking and years and years 

of dedication. It is not structured like a typical 

field guide, so users will have to accustom 

themselves to scanning pages looking for 

traits or characteristics that match what they 

see on a specimen, rather choosing among 

options in a key. Conversely, if one wants to 

first familiarize themselves with the tribes 

before heading to the field, this book does an 

excellent job of explaining and displaying this 

information and enabling the user to develop 

a sense for each group. 

This guide is a unique resource for amateurs 

and professionals alike. The wonderful 

photographs, detailed descriptions, and 

breadth covered make for an excellent guide 

to one of the most charismatic and diverse 

plant families in the world. 
-Nora Mitchell, Department of Biology, Uni-

versity of Wisconsin – Eau Claire, Eau Claire, 


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Plant Science Bulletin

                                                                              Spring 2020 Volume 66 Number 1

The plans for Botany 2020 are coming together quickly, 

and we are excited and proud to be offering you our first 

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