Plant Science Bulletin archive

Issue: 2022-v68-3Actions

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Developing a Self- and 

Community-Care Practice, 

by Sarah Sims....p. 172

Advice from the Careers in Botany Luncheon, 

collected by Student Reps Eli Hartung and 

Ioana Anghel...p. 215

Examining the Contributions of John Henry 

Reisner,  by Song Shi and Lee B. Kass.... p. 186

Plants, Science, 

and the 


Species Act

Presidential Address at Botany 2022

by Dr. Vivian Negrón-Ortiz

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                                               Fall 2022 Volume 68 Number 3



In this issue of Plant Science Bulletin, you will find various summaries and 

recaps from Botany 2022. This includes the excellent address by Vivian 

Negrón-Ortiz, “Plants, Science, and the Endangered Species Act”.  The address 

of the President-elect is one of my favorite features of PSB, as it records the 

diverse array of issues and topics that BSA leaders have chosen to bring before 

the entire Society. As far as I can tell, PSB began regularly publishing the 

address of the President-elect in 2003. In the 1950s and ‘60s, the address of 

the “retiring” president was typically published. The first presidential address I 

can find in the archives was published in PSB’s first year of publication.  “Plant 

Idioblasts: Remarkable Examples of Cell Specialization,” by Adriance S. Foster, 

is included in the winter 1955 issue. I invite you to browse through the PSB

archives (  to enjoy all 

these contributions. 


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Plants, Science, and the Endangered Species Act - Address of the President Elect .............................157

Botanical Society of America’s Award Winners (Part 2) ..........................................................................................165 

Gifts to the BSA Endowment Support Student Research  .....................................................................................171

Nurturing Botanists: Developing a Self- and Community-Care Practice: 

        A Botany360 Recap............................................................................................................................................................172

Botany 2022 in Your Words and Pictures.........................................................................................................................180


John Henry Reisner (1888-1965): Contributions to Agricultural Improvement Efforts

       In China and the Development of The College of Agriculture and Forestry 

       at University of Nanking  ....................................................................................................................................................186


BSA Spotlight Series....................................................................................................................................................................205

Thank You, Teressa Alexander! .............................................................................................................................................206

Did You Know? ................................................................................................................................................................................206

Botany360 Continues to Grow................................................................................................................................................207

New BSA Award! Graduate Student Dissertation Award in Comparative Plant Biology.......................207

It’s Renewal Season!.....................................................................................................................................................................208


PlantingScience Welcomes the 2022-2023 Master Plant Science Team.....................................................211 

PlantingScience’s Fall 2022 Session is Underway!.....................................................................................................212

Digging Deeper {F2} is Recruiting Teachers! .................................................................................................................212

Life Discovery Conference 2023...........................................................................................................................................213


Botany 2022 Review.....................................................................................................................................................................215

Advice from the Careers in Botany Luncheon ..............................................................................................................218

Heard at the

Planting the Seeds of Science Communication Workshop........................................................219

Papers to Read for Future Leaders ......................................................................................................................................220


In memoriam - Jon Giddens (1986 - 2021).....................................................................................................................221

BOOK REVIEWS..............................................................................................................................................223

Logo designed by Johanne Stogran

Background image credit: Xiao-Xue Mo and Lian-Bin Tao

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[Editor’s Note: Dr. Vivian Negrón-Ortiz spoke 

at Botany 2022 for the Presidential Address.]

The topic for this address is a subject that I 

have devoted time and effort to for the past 

15 years. For this address, I do not intend 

to explain technical details, but rather give 

a general overview of how plants have been 

treated under the Endangered Species Act 

(ESA) of 1973, as amended, with some new 

information collected from several interviews 

with various leaders of the U.S. Fish and 

Wildlife Service (FWS). 

It is evident that science for the ESA is 

an essential starting point for preventing 

the extinction of many species, and that 

combined with policies and full partnership, 

it can help solve many conservation problems. 

Conservation is complex and can be defined 

in multiple ways, but it is the persistence of 

Plants, Science, and the 

Endangered Species Act

a species, plants in particular, in their native 

habitat that we strive to maintain—and this is 

of importance for the current and foreseeable 

future. To illustrate how science is used under 

the ESA, I’m going to present an example from 

my own research. 

In the early 1990s I was invited to collaborate 

on a research project to investigate why seed 

set is very low or non-existent in an extremely 

rare cactus geographically restricted to the 

Florida Keys. This rare species, Consolea 

corallicola Small (Opuntioideae), is a tree-

like cactus about 2 m tall, with a dense 

cluster of branches near at the top of the stem 

and bearing bright red flowers. Only one 

population of 13 caged plants was left in the 

wild in 1995, one population discovered in 

1919 was extirpated, and a second population 

consisting of a few adult plants was found in 

2001 (

assessments/2011/r4/Q3HT_P01.pdf). T

answer the seed set question, I did hand 

pollination experiments with the 13 caged 

plants, involving 173 manipulated and control 

flowers, resulting in the production of a 

single fruit by agamospermy. Pollen grains 

were observed germinating on the stigma of 

abscised ovaries, but tubes failed to enter and 

fertilize the ovules (Negrón-Ortiz, 1998). 

  By Dr. Vivian Negrón-Ortiz    

 President of the Botanical Society of America

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Given that this information didn’t answer the 

question, we embarked on a research project 

involving all nine species in this genus, 

geographically restricted to the Caribbean 

region. Direct observations of individual 

plants in the field, dissection of flowers at 

anthesis, and embryological studies revealed 

that most species in this genus are composed 

of females, males, and, in a few species, fruiting 

males (Strittmatter et al., 2002; Negrón-

Ortiz, 2007). We then carried out similar 

investigations on C. corallicola; our results 

showed that this species is composed of males 

and fruiting males. We inferred there are no 

females remaining in the population (Negrón-

Ortiz and Strittmatter, 2004); therefore, C. 

corallicola is a functional extinct species.

This information along with other research 

studies conducted between the 1990s to 

early 2000s were integral components to help 

inform the final listing rule of 2013. Listing, 

the process by which a species is determined 

to meet the ESA definition of endangered 

or threatened, requires a thorough scientific 

evaluation and public review before a final 

decision is made. While research studies on C. 

corallicola  were conducted, multiple internal 

documents were simultaneously generated 

( to 

assess the status of the species since 1985 

(50 FR 39526), when the species was first 

recognized as a candidate species. Therefore, 

listing is a multi-faceted process.

The ESA approaches its 50th anniversary in 

2023. This law, written mostly by a group of 

lawyers and scientists and enacted with little 

controversy, is considered the most powerful 

environmental legislation for saving species 

from extinction. It has evolved over the last 

49 years by defining many phrases and words, 

but it remains a source of legal interpretations. 

Many stakeholders and scientists are not 

content with ESA’s performance, based on 

the limited number of species delisted to date 

(Greenwald et al., 2019). Of the total 1638 

domestic species listed as of 2021 (941 plants, 

451 vertebrates, 276 invertebrates; Figure 1), 

only 4% (N = 69 species: 48 vertebrates, 1 

Figure 1. Number of species by taxonomic group and listing status.

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invertebrate, 20 plants) have been removed 

from the list due to recovery, which is the goal 

of the ESA. 

But using this metric solely to evaluate the 

ESA success is not effective, since delisting is 

only one purpose of the ESA. The recovery 

process takes on average 24-40 years (years 

for: birds, 40; fishes, 31; mammals, 24; plants, 

27; reptiles, 30) if we have all the ‘means’ 

and a suit of partners working continuously 

on a species. Preventing extinction to keep 

endangered species stable, however, provides a 

better measure of the effectiveness of the ESA. 

Although the ESA doesn’t have a definition for 

‘extinction’, and rates of extinction are difficult 

to quantify, determination of whether a species 

is extinct is based on analyses including 

detectability of the species, adequacy of 

survey efforts, and time since last detection. 

With these three criteria, only 11 species (all 

Figure 2. Average recovery spending per species by taxonomic group and listing status. The 

error bars represent the standard error of the mean.

animals) have been determined as extinct 

after listing (  One 

main impediment to delisting plant species is 

the limited funding (Figure 2) available for the 

implementation of recovery actions of species 

at risk of extinction (Figure 1). An additional 

concern is the steady decline of personnel 

dedicated to the conservation of threatened 

and endangered species due to the “trend in 

agencies to hire generalists or persons with a 

degree in biology or ecology and expect them 

to cover all taxonomic groups” (L. Smith, 2022 


The first four plants were listed under the 

ESA in 1977 (Figure 3). These four species 

(endemics to the San Clemente Island, 

CA) were listed as threatened [Acmispon 

dendroideus var. traskiae (Fabaceae) and 

Castilleja grisea (Scrophulariaceae)] and 

endangered [Delphinium variegatum

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ssp.  Kinkiense (Ranunculaceae) and 

Malacothamnus clementinus (Malvaceae)], 

and successfully recovered 44 years post-

listing, in 2021. Since 1994, plants are the 

taxonomic group most listed, comprising 58% 

of all federally listed species to date (Figure 

1). Federal expenditures, however, are not 

commensurate (Figure 2; Negrón-Ortiz, 2014) 

and most funding is allocated to vertebrates. 

This pattern is not likely to change, as an FWS 

leader expressed when I interviewed him in 

2022, “Funding is not equal across species, 

and will not be equal, ever!”

Federally listed plants are represented by 

394 genera and 941 species within 118 

families (Figure 4). About 59% of these 

genera are represented by one species, while 

only 2% of the genera (AstragalusCyanaea, 

Cyrtandra, Euphorbia, Melicope, Phyllostegia, 

Pritchardia,  and Schiedea) include ≥11 

species with the Hawaiian endemics 

Cyanaea (Campanulaceae) and Schiedea

(Caryophyllaceae) possessing the most listed 

(51 and 28 species, respectively). Overall, 

more than 80% of the listed plants have an 

endangered status (Figure 3). Many are found 

in the Pacific (49%), Pacific Southwest (20%), 

Figure 3. Number of species listed per year and listing status.

and Southeast regions (18%); and belong to 

the Asteraceae (11%), Campanulaceae (9%), 

Fabaceae (6%), and Lamiaceae (5%) (Figure 

4). Of the 271 listed plants within these 

four families, 155 are found in the Pacific 

(particularly the Campanulaceae), 227 are 

listed as endangered, and 165 possess high 

degree of threats. The recovery potential of 110 

of species with high threats is low, suggesting 

that these species are vulnerable to extirpation 

and possibly extinction.  

Federally listed plants are primarily protected 

on public lands. The only public land 

managed by FWS are the National Wildlife 

Refuges (NWRs), where about a third of 

all the listed species occur in 444 of the 568 

NWRs (Defenders of Wildlife, 2020). While 

23,086 native plant species have been reported 

in 396 NWRs, only 207 are federally listed 

and documented in 93 NWRs. The species 

requiring federal protection may increase 

in the near future, since more than 2000 are 

currently assessed by NatureServe as critically 

imperiled (G1) and imperiled (G2)—thus, 

NWRs remain important for preserving 

biodiversity. The numbers of species projected 

to require federal protection are greatest 

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Figure 4. Families with ≥10 listed plant species. Most families (94) possess < 10 listed plant spe-

cies, totaling 265.
in Hawaii, California, and the Southeast. 

Although there are other federal, state, and 

local areas home for many of our threatened 

and endangered species, unfortunately, most 

of our plants are located on privately owned 

lands where they do not receive protections 

under the ESA.  



I am going to switch gears and rely on the 

interviews and discussions with 10 FWS 

leaders and botanists nationwide to document 

key milestones within three timelines about 20 

years apart that marked significant decisions 

for species protection, science, and policies 

under the ESA.

1973 to 1995

• The listing process was solely per-

formed at the FWS headquarters 

(HQ) from 1973 to 1985, and then it 

was transferred to the regions until 

1992 when it finally was delegated to 

the field offices. 

• Gail Baker, Bruce MacBryde, John 

Fay, and LaVerne Smith were the only 

FWS botanists hired between 1975 to 

1978. They were stationed at HQ and 

worked nationwide on a proposed 

rule to list several hundreds of plants 

(Baker’s recollection is 800 plant spe-

cies). They gathered information on 

these plants by contacting state offices 

to inquire about their plant conser-

vation efforts and providing funding 

agreements to botanists around the 

country to inform listing on specific 


• Science 


The immediate actions for these 

plants were surveys and uncov-

ering new locations, as basic sci-

ence was scarce or lacking. 


Research was transferred in 1993 

to the National Biological Ser-

vice, now U.S. Geological Science 

(Wagner, 1999). 

• The driver in the 1980s was to list spe-

cies “just to be on the safe side,” (J. 

Herrington, 2022 interview), and it 

was done with minimal data. 

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• A total of 509 plants were listed within 

22 years, of which 80% were assessed 

as endangered (Figure 3). 

1996 to 2015

• The external drivers during this period 

were trust and partnership. Research 

was no longer an action to be imple-

mented by the FWS staff; thus, trusting 

was crucial as partners had the task to 

collaborate on research projects and 

get the best available information for 

the recovery process. 

• The internal driver during much of 

this period was the high volume of 

lawsuits and their consequences. 

0 Lawsuits. Between 2005 and 2015, 

the FWS received about 141 suits, 

involving 1441 species, to take 

actions within deadlines under 

Section 4 of ESA. In addition, two 

mega-petitions (formal requests 

to list species under the ESA) 

were received: one in 2007 to list 

674 species in the Southwest and 

Mountain-Prairie regions and the 

other in 2010 to list 404 species 

in the Southeast region (GAO, 


0 Consequences. Re-assigning 

FWS staff to work on those litiga-

tions delayed the recovery work 

but conversely, as G. Carmody 

(2022 interview) stated, “Certain 

things were done in a way that 

they would not have been done 

otherwise.” She also stated that 

“funding was redirected to com-

pensate lawyers’ salary and to es-

tablish agreements to get the new 

workload done.”

• The overall driver between 2000 and 

2009 was “more listing, but not recov-

ery” (J. Herrington, 2022 interview), 

although no plants were listed from 

2005 to 2008 (Figure 3).

• Science 

0 Population viability analyses be-

came the ideal approach to esti-

mate the probability of extinction 

of populations or species and was 

frequently used as a framework 

for recovery. 

0 Basic science continued to be 

scarce for most listed plants and 

for all species in general, and the 

structured decision-making ap-

proach (Runge et al., 2020) was 

used to explicitly address am-

biguity or uncertainty due to 

knowledge gap. 

0 A key issue that marked this peri-

od was listing of the polar bear in 

2008 (L. Smith, 2022). It triggered 

the importance of addressing the 

long-term projection of species 

vulnerability and extinction risk 

under climate change scenarios 

(i.e., forecasting). 

0 Management was considered 

more active and less idealistic as 

“we don’t have the luxury to go 

as we did in the past” (L. Smith, 

2022 interview).

• A total of 378 plants were listed within 

these 20 years, with 83% of them clas-

sified as endangered (Figure 3). 

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2016 to the present and future

• Science and Policy decisions

0 Greater scientific understanding 

of species’ viability is anticipated 

to improve because an analytical 

framework called Species Status 

Assessment (Smith et al,. 2018) 

is in place to inform decision-

making including processes such 

as listing and recovery. 

0 Better baseline data and research 

on survival, reproduction, and 

other vital rates are expected 

through collaboration with ex-

perts outside FWS, as well as an 

improved assessment of the cur-

rent and future trajectory of the 


0 Greater technical participation 

by experts outside of the FWS is 

also anticipated to help us inte-

grate and apply the best available 

data to inform decisions, by char-

acterizing uncertainty and filling 

data gaps.

Significant scientific advances had been made 

in understanding the biology and ecological 

needs of many of listed plant species during 

the 49 years of the ESA implementation, yet 

basic science remains scarce. Three areas of 

research (population genetics, reproductive 

and seed ecology, and demographic modeling) 

have considerably contributed to guide efforts 

to protect populations and prevent extinction 

of endangered and threatened species. But 

many questions remain to be answered, and 

the following collective themes emerged 

through discussions with FWS botanists: 

What is the life history profile for each 

species? Are they able to adapt to changing 

environmental conditions and catastrophic 

events? How should a “population” be defined? 

What constitutes a plant vs. a clone? What 

are the types of soil seed bank? What are the 

longevity of ex-situ seeds? What are the overall 

patterns of in-situ seedling recruitment? Is 

low recruitment sufficient to maintain stable 

populations? What solutions are needed to 

conserve species at risk from climate change?  

Overall, the reality is that many of our species 

are not improving, current threats are and 

will be exacerbating species endangerment, 

and science alone will not lead to prevention 

of many species’ extinctions—but it may help 

slow down extinction.

In closing, I would like to finish with several 

quotes that have specific meanings at certain 

time periods within the 49 years of the 

ESA implementation. A common phrase 

constantly being said by botanists since the 

inception of the ESA to present days is, “Do 

not forget the plants”—a reminder to the 

FWS leadership that plants are also listed 

and need to be included in documents such 

as strategies, during public speaking, and 

outreach media. The phrase “The past was a 

predictor of the future, but not now” refers to 

how we cannot go back to how species and 

habitat were previously managed because 

changes and degradation are happening faster 

due to the consequences of climate change, 

and the past management data will not help 

restore current lands. “Science will prevail” 

was a quote commonly verbalized during 

the polar bear listing process and certain 

key periods (1980s and 2000s) associated 

with presidential administrations. Finally, 

Mrs. Gail Baker said during a 1976 interview 

with a National Public Radio reporter, “It’s 

not love that makes the world go round, it’s 

photosynthesis.” A few days later, she received 

a message from a college student in Boston 

praising her story and quote!

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I want to acknowledge the traditional territory 

and ancestral lands of many indigenous 

people ( My work area 

occurs across the NW Florida home of the 

traditional and ancestral lands of the Mvskoke 

(Muscogee/Creek) and Apalachees, and since 

this year the conference was in Anchorage, 

Alaska, I would like to pay my respect to 

Elders both past, present, and future.


I wish to acknowledge 10 participants 

representing FWS leadership and botanists 

across the nation for their contribution during 

interviews: Gail Baker (former FWS botanist, 

1976-1977, HQ), Sean Blomquist (former 

Supervisor, Branch of SSA Science Support, 

HQ), Tara D. Callaway (Washington State 

Plant Recovery Coordinator, Washington 

State), Gail Carmody (former Field Supervisor, 

NW Florida), Craig Hansen (Listing 

Coordinator, Region 6, CO), Jay Herrington 

(former Field Supervisor, N Florida), Mark 

Madison (Historian, National Conservation 

Training Center, WV), Erin Rivenbark 

(Listing Biologist, Region 4, Atlanta, GA), 

LaVerne Smith (former FWS botanist, 1978-

1983, HQ), Lauren Weisenberger (Plant 

Recovery Coordinator, Honolulu, HI), and 

Marion (Scott) Wiggers (botanist, 


Field Office, MS)

. Specifically, I was thrilled 

to interview Gail Baker and LaVerne Smith, 

who were part of the beginning the ESA 

implementation. My appreciation is also 

extended to 10 other FWS staff members 

for providing many plant images that were 

featured in this talk at Botany 2022.


Greenwald N., K. F. Suckling, B. Hartl, and L. 

A. Mehrhoff. 2019. Extinction and the U.S. En-

dangered Species Act. PeerJ 7: e6803. https://doi.

Negrón-Ortiz, V. 2014. Pattern of expenditures for 

plant conservation under the Endangered Species 

Act. Biological Conservation 171: 36-43. https://
Negrón-Ortiz, V. 2007. Chromosome numbers, 

nuclear DNA content, and polyploidy in Consolea 

(Cactaceae), an endemic cactus of the Caribbean 

Islands.  American Journal of Botany 94: 1360-

Negrón-Ortiz, V., and L. Strittmatter. 2004. Em-

bryology of floral dimorphism and gender system 

of Consolea corallicola (Cactaceae), a rare spe-

cies of the Florida Keys. Haseltonia 10: 1-10.
Negrón-Ortiz, V. 1998. Reproductive biology of 

a rare cactus, Opuntia spinosissima (Cactaceae), 

in the Florida Keys: why is seed set very low? 

Sexual Plant Reproduction 11: 208-212.
Runge, M. C., S. J. Converse, J. E. Lyons, and 

D. R. Smith. 2020. Structured Decision Making: 

Case studies in natural resource management. 

Johns Hopkins University Press. 
Smith, D. R, N. L. Allan, C. P. McGowan, J. A. 

Szymanski, S. R. Oetker, and H. M. Bell. 2018. 

Development of a Species Status Assessment Pro-

cess for decisions under the U.S. Endangered Spe-

cies Act. Journal of Fish and Wildlife Manage-

ment 9: 302-320. 
Strittmatter, L. I., V. Negrón-Ortiz, and R. J. Hick-

ey. 2002.  Subdioecy in Consolea spinosissima

(Cactaceae): breeding system and embryological 

studies. American Journal of Botany 89: 1373-1387. 
U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). 

2017. Environmental litigation: Information on 

Endangered Species Act deadline suits. Website:
Wagner, F. H. 1999.  Whatever happened to the 

National Biological Survey? BioScience 49: 219–


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Botanical Society of America’s 

Award Winners (Part 2)




(Genetics Section)

The Margaret Menzel Award is presented by the Genetics Section for the outstanding paper 

presented in the contributed papers sessions of the annual meetings.

Caroline Dowling, University College Dublin, For the Presentation: It’s Been a Long Day: 

Uncovering the genetic control of flowering in Cannabis sativa. Co-authors: Jiaqi Shi, Susanne 

Schilling, Rainer Melzer 


(Teaching Section)

The Samuel Noel Postlethwait Award is given for outstanding service to the BSA Teaching Section.

Dr. Melanie DeVore, Georgia College & State University



(Paleobotanical Section) 

The Award is to provide funds for those who have completed a PhD and are currently in a post-

doctoral position or non-tenure track position.

Nareerat Boonchai,  Florida Museum of Natural History,  University of Florida. For 

the paper titled: “Insights into the Wyoming’s Blue Forest: Filling a knowledge gap 

in diversity of Eocene woody vegetation, paleoenvironment, and paleoclimate.”

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Andres Elgorriaga, University of Kansas. For the paper titled: “Reconstructing ginkgoalean 

macroevolutionary patterns through time within a phylogenetic context.”




This award was created to promote research in plant comparative morphology, the Kaplan family 

has established an endowed fund, administered through the Botanical Society of America, to 

support the Ph.D. research of graduate students in this area.

Yesenia Madrigal Bedoya, University of Antioquia (Colombia). For the Proposal: A mor-

pho-anatomical characterization of the vegetative-to-reproductive meristematic transition in 

terrestrial and epiphytic neotropical orchids



The BSA Graduate Student Research Awards support graduate student research and are made on the 

basis of research proposals and letters of recommendations. Withing the award group is the Karling 

Graduate Student Research Award. This award was instituted by the Society in 1997 with funds 

derived through a generous gift from the estate of the eminent mycologist, John Sidney Karling (1897-

1994), and supports and promotes graduate student research in the botanical sciences.



Jessie Pelosi, University of Florida. For the Proposal: Beyond the genome: methylomics of the 

alternation of generations

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Michael Peyton, University of Wisconsin – Madison.  For the Presentation: An investigating 

into the role of functional traits and spatial scale in Hawaiian understory responses to pig 

disturbance. Co-author: Sara Hotchkiss


Blaire Kleiman, Florida International University.  For the Presentation: How weeds affect 

insects in mango, Mangifera indica, cultivation of South Florida.


(Best Student Poster)

Deanna Neupert, Miami University.  For the Poster: The evolution of structural novelty: A 

morphological analysis of development in Mimulus and its implication for plant architecture 

and reproduction. Co-authors: Robert Baker, Rich Moore, Jonathan Bauer


(Paleobotanical Section)

Established in 1976, the Isabel Cookson Award recognizes the best student paper presented in the 

Paleobotanical Section.

Kelly Pfeiler, University of Kansas.  For the Presentation: Anatomically preserved 

cheirolepidiaceous pollen cones of western North America. Co-authors: Brian Atkinson, Kelly 


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This award was established in 1985 with a gift from Dr. Esau and is augmented by ongoing 

contributions from Section members. It is given to the graduate student who presents the 

outstanding paper in developmental and structural botany at the annual meeting.

Heather Phillips, Cornell University.  For the Presentation: To fuse or not to fuse: Investigating 

the evolution and development of floral fusion in the Zingiberales. Co-authors: Jacob Landis, 

Chelsea Specht



Each year, the Physiological Section presents the Li-COR prize to acknowledge the best presentation 

made by any student, regardless of subdiscipline, at the annual meeting. The Li-COR prize is 

presented annually at the BSA Banquet.

Best Student Oral Presentations

Claudia Garnica Diaz, University of Florida.  For the Presentation: Intra-canopy leaf 

variation in deciduous oaks (genus Quercus): from leaf construction to energy return. Co-

Authors: Siddarth Machado, Raiza Castillo-Argaez, Nicholas Ash Smith, Daniel J. Johnson, 

Grace Patricia John

Ana Flores, University of Hawaii at Manoa.  For the Presentation: Trait variation as plants 

grow up: simultaneous effects of ontogeny and phenotypic plasticity. Co-author: Kasey Barton

Best Student Poster

Jordyn Regier, Pepperdine University. For the Presentation: Substrate type affects the drying 

speed and desiccation tolerance of fern gametophytes. Co-Authors: Mayra Hernandez, Camille 

Kilayko Sicangco, Stephen Davis, Helen Holmlund

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PSB 68 (3) 2022



(Developmental & Structural and Paleobotanical Sections)

The Maynard F. Moseley Award was established in 1995 to honor a career of dedicated teaching, 

scholarship, and service to the furtherance of the botanical sciences. Dr. Moseley, known to his 

students as “Dr. Mo”, died Jan. 16, 2003 in Santa Barbara, CA, where he had been a professor 

since 1949. He was widely recognized for his enthusiasm for and dedication to teaching and his 

students, as well as for his research using floral and wood anatomy to understand the systematics 

and evolution of angiosperm taxa, especially waterlilies. (PSB, Spring, 2003). The award is given 

to the best student paper, presented in either the Paleobotanical or Developmental and Structural 

sessions, that advances our understanding of plant structure in an evolutionary context.

Keana Tang, University of Kansas.  For the Presentation: Crown group Lauraceae in the Late 

Cretaceous: new evidence from fossil flowers. Co-Authors: Kelly Matsunaga, Brian Atkinson



Best Student Oral Presentation

Maria Cristina Rengifo Faiffer, Michigan Technological University. For the 

Presentation:  Phenotypic plasticity of Syntrichia caninervis in novel climates.  Co-

authors: Matthew Bowker, Anita Antoninka

Best Student Poster

Marissa Ochoa, University of California, Los Angeles.  For the Presentation: How does stomatal 

anatomy influence leaf conductance from minimum to maximum? Causal relationships 

and meta-analysis. Co-authors: Lawren Sack, Thomas N. Buckley, Christian Henry, Camila 

Medeiros, Ruihua Pan, Grace Patricia John

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Best Presentation

Gordon Younkin, Cornell University. For the Presentation: Comparative transcriptomics of 48 

Erysimum species guides discovery of cardiac glycoside biosynthetic genes. Co-authors: Martin 

Alani, Mahdieh Mirzaei, Georg Jander

Best Presentation Honorable Mention

Luis Santiago-Rosario,  Louisiana State University.  For the Presentation: Contrasts among 

cationic phytochemical landscapes in the southern United States. Co-author: Kyle Harms

Best Poster

Gemma Takahashi, University of California, Irvine.  For the Poster: Differential expression, 

genome annotation, and enzyme discovery in Drosera capensis.  Co-authors:  Omar Akbari, 

Ulysses Castelan, Mark Hadadian, Jonathan Le, Jessica Kelz, Elizabeth Diessner, Elliott Einstein, 

Megha Unhelkar, Ashley Kwok, Marc Sprague-Piercy, Sofiya Woodcock, Allison Pineda, Pauniz 

Shabakesaz, David Einstein, Alexandra Garabedian, Aden Alemayhu, Jose Uribe, Rachel 

Martin, Carter Butts

Best Poster Honorable Mention

Anna Ferraro,  High Point University.  For the Poster: Characterizing plant biochemical 

responses to pathogenic stress: a spotlight on red leaf spots. Co-authors: Maggie Salley, Bailey 

McCormick, Andrew Wommack, Nicole Michelle Hughes

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In 2021, the Botanical Society of America 

(BSA) revised its strategic plan, updating 

the mission, goals, and areas of impact 

for the Society. A gift or planned financial 

commitment to the BSA will enable the 

Society to achieve its goals as outlined in the 

updated strategic plan and to achieve long-

term sustainability for BSA. Support for 

diverse student inclusion and participation 

emerged as a priority for the continued work 

of the Society. Among other areas of focus 

outlined in the strategic plan, making student 

participation and success a key priority will 

ensure the overall long-term sustainability 

and global impact of the BSA.  

In 2021, the Society received a large and 

generous gift from an anonymous donor to 

endow a new Graduate Student Research 

Award in Comparative Plant Biology. The 

first research award for $10,000 from this 

fund will be offered in 2023. This award 

significantly increases the support that the 

Society can provide to graduate students 


Jennifer Cruse-Sanders

BSA Director at Large for Development

Gifts to the BSA Endowment 

Support Student Research

in plant biology. The Society also offers the 

prestigious Kaplan Dissertation Award in 

Comparative Morphology, in its third year of 

funding, which provides a $10,000 research 

award annually.

You, too, can help by making a donation of any 

amount to BSA or consider giving a legacy gift 

to BSA. The intent of the Botanical Society of 

America’s Legacy Society is to ensure a vibrant 

BSA for tomorrow’s botanists, and to assist all 

members in providing wisely planned giving 

options. All that is asked is that you remember 

the BSA as a component in your legacy gifts—

no minimum amount. We hope this allows all 

BSA members to play a meaningful part in the 

Society’s future. 

Giving a legacy gift to the BSA is simple:

create?gid=46&reset=1. To contact us with 

your questions, e-mail bsa-manager@botany.


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PSB 68 (3) 2022


The mental health crisis in this country, and 

its implications for students and workers, has 

been well documented. Burnout, work-life 

balance, and self-care are terms and topics 

that are now commonly used by many, and 

the botanical community is no exception.  

But these very serious issues are at times 

misunderstood or dismissed as overexposed, 

temporary, or self-indulgent. And self-care 

has been irresponsibly commercialized and 

offered as a simple panacea to structural 

problems. So, what are the nuances of good 

mental health in the workplace? What are 

the  specific  challenges  to  and  opportunities 

for self- and community-care in the 

botanical community?  In August 2022, the 

BSA offered a free Botany360 webinar—

“Nurturing Botanists: Developing a Self- and 

Community-Care Practice”—to explore these 


As the BSA Diversity Equity Inclusion and 

Outreach Programs Coordinator, I provided 

participants with information, ideas, and 

concrete skills to help them build a practice 

of care for themselves and others in their 

communities, universities, and workplaces. 

The workshop interrogated some of the 

harmful approaches to mental health and 

instead offered a more nuanced and trauma-

informed view of when, how, and why to 

develop a self- and community-care practice. 

I’d like to offer a recap of that workshop here 

in the Plant Science Bulletin so that more of 

our botanical community can take steps to 

better care for ourselves and one another. 




Before jumping into self- and community-

care practices, the workshop explored 

mental health challenges in the workplace 

and introduced the Professional Quality of 

Life measure as a way to deconstruct and 

understand our complex feelings about and 

relationship with our work. 

The Professional Quality of Life measure, or 

ProQOL, is a self-assessment tool that has 

been used for over 15 years to help individuals 

understand their level of work satisfaction, 

fatigue, and burnout. Historically, it was 

Nurturing Botanists: 

Developing a Self- and Community-

Care Practice: A Botany360 Recap


  By Sarah Sims   

  BSA Diversity Equity Inclusion and 

 Outreach Programs Coordinator

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primarily used in the “helping professions,” 

but many different types of workplaces and 

workers are now using the tool to understand 

the complexities around what makes us feel 

good and bad in our careers and what we can 

do about it. The ProQOL determines your 

professional quality of life as a balance of the 

compassion satisfaction and the compassion 

fatigue you feel. (Note: To learn more about 

how the the ProQOL defines and measures 

professional quality of life, or to take your own 

self-assessment, visit

Compassion satisfaction is the pleasure you 

derive from doing your work or that you get 

from external sources at your workplace. The 

specifics of what makes you feel satisfied at and 

with your work will be different for everyone 

depending on personality, identities, approach 

to work, etc. Here are some of the factors that 

our colleagues in botany said make them feel 

a sense of compassion satisfaction:

• Workplace flexibility
• Seeing our students and colleagues 

have successes

• Having a sense that you and your col-

leagues are working together toward a 

common goal

• Having peers who share some of your 

marginalized identities

• Having lab mates or co-workers who 

you can vent to and who in turn will 

listen to you

Do any of these ring true for you? What makes 

you feel satisfied with your work?

Compassion fatigue is exhaustion, emotional 

distress, frustration, anger, or apathy resulting 

from caring a lot about your work and having 

negative feelings about your workplace.  It can 

also be influenced by traumatic experiences you 

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might have either at work or in your personal 

life. Compassion fatigue, if unchecked, can 

turn into burnout. Burnout can show up as 

complete mental and/or physical exhaustion, 

a cynical detachment from your work, or a 

reduced sense of self-efficacy (https://hbr.


recovery-will-be-too). Like compassion 

satisfaction, what makes you feel fatigued or 

burnt out is also individual. Here’s what some 

in the botanical community struggle with:

• Unrealistic and increasing workloads 

and high focus on productivity

• The pressure to give free or underval-

ued labor

• Unsupportive leaders and/or institutions
• Issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic
• Monotony of work and/or recurring 

problems with no solutions

• Feeling under-appreciated

Have you ever experienced burnout? What 

makes you feel compassion fatigue at work?

We often think about burnout specifically 

as a state of mind that might lead us to drop 

out of school, quit our job, or find a new 

profession entirely. These impacts on our 

careers are certainly true, but perhaps a more 

insidious consequence of burnout is what it 

does to our bodies and long-term health if 

unchecked for too long. Our bodies react in 

automatic ways to stress, releasing adrenaline 

and other hormones that can cause changes to 

blood sugars, heart rates, and blood flow.  A 

short-term change helps us get safely through 

a stressful or even dangerous situation. But 

when this is happening all the time, it can 

lead to heart conditions, metabolic diseases, 

sleep disorders, harmful coping mechanisms, 

and more. Thus, the very essential need for 

self- and community-care: it’s not just about 

keeping us at our jobs and satisfied with our 

jobs—it’s about preserving our health!




There are a lot of harmful myths about self-

care, and one of the biggest ones is that it is all 

on you. Unfortunately, self-care is often used 

as a catch-all term for what is (or should be) 

a layered approach to supportive care, which 

starts with self-soothing or self-regulation, 

then self-care, followed by community-care, 

and all of which would (in a perfect world) 

be enveloped by comprehensive and inclusive 

structural care.

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Self-soothing  or  self-regulation are reactive 

activities that are easy for you to engage 

in and provide distraction and/or comfort 

during a stressful time. The key phrase in the 

previous sentence is “easy for you.”  Often, 

self-care and self-soothing are confused or 

used interchangeably.  As we’ll discuss further 

below, a self-care practice that you’ve taken 

time and intention to cultivate and get better 

at over time can become one of your go-to self-

soothing techniques—but it doesn’t always 

automatically start that way. Consider this: 

have you ever been in a stressful situation, and 

someone tells you, “Let’s just take a break to 

meditate”? You try, but the stress doesn’t go 

away, and then your stress increases because 

you become acutely aware that you don’t know 

what you’re doing or that you aren’t doing it 

right. And now you are more stressed that you 

wasted time unsuccessfully trying to destress. 

Well, meditation wasn’t the right self-soothing 

technique for you, but something else is!

Let’s dig a little deeper into the science of how 

self-soothing works.  A good self-soothing 

technique is one that makes you feel calm. How 

does that work? Let’s take a look at the other 

term used for self-soothing: self-regulation.  

When we are stressed, we are dysregulated.  

Dysregulation happens in our bodies.  Those 

stress hormones, mentioned above, make our 

muscles tense up, or our heart rate increase, 

or our breathing to become irregular.  You 

likely know what stress or dysregulation looks 

like in your body. So, to re-regulate (or self-

soothe), you need to provide your body with 

the opposite of the dysregulation symptom 

you are experiencing.  If you feel yourself 

getting hot and sweaty, enjoying a favorite iced 

drink may be your go-to.  If you experience 

the stress as body aches, maybe a brisk walk or 

a session at the boxing gym is what you need. 

Because dysregulation is unique to you, self-

regulation techniques also need to be unique 

to you. 

Personalization—got it! But why does it 

need to be easy? When you’re dysregulated, 

your body reacts, but so does your brain. 

Specifically, as you become more stressed, key 

executive functions of your brain, such as your 

ability to plan ahead, follow multiple complex 

steps, and even language, become harder 

to access. On the flip side, you begin to rely 

more on your limbic system where emotions, 

memories, and habits live, and your brainstem 

and cerebellum, which is the autopilot section 

of your brain where your fight–flight or freeze 

responses live. This means that if a regulation 

technique is new or highly complicated, you 

likely won’t be able to perform it successfully.  


5, 4, 3, 2, 1 SENSORY 


During the workshop, a couple of self-

regulation techniques were explained 

and practiced. Here’s one that you can do 

anywhere and in any amount of time: find a 

comfortable place to sit or stand in any type 

of environment. Take a few deep breaths. 

Look around and name five things you can 

concretely see. Take some more deep breaths. 

Physically use your hand to touch four things 

and name how they feel. More deep breaths. 

Name three things you can hear; closing your 

eyes may help. More deep breaths. You may 

need to really concentrate this time: name two 

things you can smell. A final deep breath. Now 

name one emotion you have.  

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So, why does this work? Oftentimes when we 

are dysregulated, we lose an attachment to our 

body; in other words, we become overtaken 

by our thoughts or feelings. A great way to 

reconnect with our bodies and break that 

dysregulatory cycle is to focus on our senses. 

Also, if you practice this technique and are 

currently living without certain disabilities, 

you’ll notice that it starts with the easier to 

access sense—sight—and then progressively 

asks you to pay close attention.  You’ll recall 

from above that when we are dysregulated, 

our higher-level thinking skills begin to go 

offline—so the simpler the task, the easier it 

is to soothe yourself.  This technique slowly 

reintroduces your executive functions. Next 

time you’re feeling stressed, give it a try!



Self-care is really about cultivating your future 

well-being. As opposed to self-regulation, 

which you would engage in when you start to 

feel dysregulated, you really need to practice 

self-care when you already feel calm (and when 

you have full access to all of those executive 

functions of your brain). It is proactive and 

intentional. While self-regulation involves 

activities that purely make you feel soothed, 

calm, and good, self-care should encompass a 

more holistic definition of good health. Self-

soothing often focuses only on your physical, 

mental, and emotional well-being. With 

self-care, we want to expand that to include 

financial, spiritual, social, occupational, 

environmental, and intellectual health. 

This inevitably means that self-care requires 

some level of commitment. This might 

mean creatively carving out time to practice 

something new.  Or, and perhaps more difficult 

for some, it might mean figuring out how to 

say “no” and stick to your boundaries. It might 

mean trusting others to fill in for you at work 

or at home so that you have more time for self-

care.  It might mean leaning into a new practice 

that seems hard or awkward at first.  For the 

botanical community, and specifically those 

in academia, we might need to interrogate 

the implicit and explicit pressures within 

our discipline to adhere to scientific, rational 

thinking and reject anything that might 

incorporate intuition, emotion, or reflective 

thinking. This attitude can be at odds with our 

need to prioritize self-care.







Finally, we turn to structural and community-

care.  Structural care consists of systems 

that support our holistic health and make 

it possible for individuals to engage in 

meaningful self-care.  These are things like 

comprehensive universal healthcare, efficient 

and accessible public transportation, a living 

wage, paid family leave, etc. They might be 

mandated by governments or provided by a 

place of employment.  In short, structural care 

is all the things that would make life just a bit 


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But we know that structural care is not a 

universal reality, so cue community-care. 

Community-care is what we develop together 

in our various communities to provide relief 

and support when the systems we operate 

within fail to do so. These can be highly 

structured, such as worker-owned co-ops 

or student unions. They can be small and 

informal, such as childcare collectives, or buy-

nothing groups on social media. They can be 

as simple as the relationships you form with 

others who share your identities, perspectives, 

or needs.  

Within the workplace setting specifically, 

communities of care build a culture that 

normalizes conversations about mental health 

and the prioritization of self-care. This means 

actively rejecting language and practices 

that stigmatize attention to mental health 

and supporting DEI (diversity, equity, and 

inclusion) values and ethical behavior more 

broadly ( and https:// Workplace communities 

of care establish practices that honor and 

support each other’s self-care preferences 

and provide opportunities for colleagues to 

engage in self-care. So what could a botanical 

community of care look like? First, workshop 

participants identified some of the barriers we 

face, including:

• Workloads prohibiting us from taking 

the time to intentionally build these 

supports or even think about them

• Being out of practice interacting with 

our colleagues in a meaningful way af-

ter so long in pandemic isolation

• A lack of trust in the larger system to 

allow communities of care to take place

• Lack of inclusivity within the botani-

cal community

What barriers to creating a community of care 

do you face in your lab, at your university, 

or in your place of employment? Identifying 

the barriers can be a good first step to 

brainstorming workarounds where care and 

connection are perhaps the most needed.

Despite the barriers, some supportive 

community practices are already taking place 

in pockets across our discipline:

• Normalizing the sharing of pronouns 

and visual symbols on labs, class-

rooms, and offices that indicate wel-

come and inclusivity

• Regular social gatherings for labs or 


• Conferences and unions providing 


• “Pause” days for mental health
• Open acknowledgement of the need to 

give and receive grace

Many of these community-care practices are 

small, but like plants, they can and will grow 

if cultivated.  Who is in your communities? 

Where is care needed the most? What can you 

do to start or contribute to a community of 

care at your school or workplace?

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“Art and the Botanical Sciences:

 Past, Present, and Future”

The  Plant Science Bulletin (PSB) is organizing 

a special issue titled “Art and the Botanical 

Sciences: Past, Present, and Future.”

Artistic expression has served a critical role in 

botanical science since its inception, but the 

accepted formats and perceived value of botanical 

art have shifted over time. Many contemporary 

botanists are engaging with art and creativity 

as a means of being better scientists, improving 

their scientific communication, and exploring 

experiences and lenses beyond the traditional 

academic scope.

This special issue will include a collection of 

articles and visual media that (1) celebrate 

and critically re-examine the historical role 

of art in botany, (2) showcase the complex 

(and sometimes challenging) experiences of 

contemporary artist–scientists who seek to 

bridge the gap between disciplines, and (3) 

present visions for the future integrations of 

art and the botanical sciences.

We are interested in compiling a wide variety 

of submissions, spanning diverse topics and 

formats, including essays, illustrations, comics, 

and project showcases. We are committed to a 

frank examination of the past, present, and future 

state of art in the botanical sciences. As such, we 

welcome submissions that reflect all aspects of 

the author’s experience unifying art and science: 

what works, what doesn’t, and what could change.

Our scope for this special issue is broad, including:

• Historical art-science intersections
• Recent botanical sci-art initiatives
• Artist and scientist perspectives on the in-

terplay between the disciplines

• Future directions of sci-art integration
• Art as an avenue for self-actualization

0 Feeding the mind and spirit
0 Forging connections to the world 

and our study systems

How to submit: Authors interested in 

contributing to this special issue should email a 

proposal consisting of a tentative title, proposed 

author list, and a 200–300-word abstract to the 

special issue editors at sciartcollective@gmail.


The deadline for proposal submission is 

February 1, 2023. Proposals will be reviewed by 

the Editor and the special issue editors. Authors 

will be notified by March 1st as to whether their 

proposal was accepted.

The Botanical Society of America and its 

publications are committed to inclusive science 

that reflects disciplinary, human, and geographic 

diversity. Proposal submissions from students 

and other early-career researchers are particularly 


Authors whose proposals are accepted should 

submit their contribution by May 1. The target 

date for publication of the special issue is Fall 


Any questions may be sent to the special issue 

editors at

Special Issue Editors:

• Nicolette Sipperly, Stonybrook University
• Patricia Chan, University of Wisconsin-


• Kasey Pham, University of Florida
• Rosemary Glos, University of Michigan



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One of the undergrads told me, after 

presenting her poster, that she had never 

felt so confident in herself as a botanist. 

The diversity of attendees was fantastic, 

and the meeting truly felt like a place 

where our identities as humans were being 

celebrated, and everyone was encouraged 

to share who they are as people. I've never 

felt that so strongly at Botany before, and 

it was transformative.

Botany 2022 was a challenging undertaking!  An amazing venue - Anchorage, Alaska!  

Our first in-person conference in our changing world!  

Our first venture into a hybrid conference and not without complications. 

All of you enjoyed the time spent with your colleagues IRL!!

BOTANY 2022 


It was great to be back in person. I know 

that behind the scenes things were 

somewhat chaotic and I want to thank 

the BSA staff for their patience and 

professional conduct. Also, thank you to 

Melanie Link-Perez.

I love these conferences, I love the environment, how friendly it is to students, and I will continue 

going as I am able. I have been critical of these hybrid models, but Botany will always be my #1 

conference and I do appreciate all the effort that has gone into organizing this hybrid meeting. 

I appreciate all your effort! Thank you for all you do!

Botany is always a pleasure to attend.

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The networking opportunities were phenomenal and overall I had a great experience. As 

a graduate student, the conference was an unparalleled opportunity for me. However, the 

technical glitches in both live and virtual presentations, separation of talks and events across 

two buildings not particularly close to one another, was disappointing.

Compliments on a great meeting! And thank 

you for opening up another field trip on Sunday! 

Thank you! I think everyone would have 

preferred all events at one location, but the walk 

was a great way to connect and get some fresh air. 

The meeting was a huge success for me in terms 

of networking and balancing the Alaskan site 

and the friendly BSA Staff.

This is my go-to conference 

and it is the best!!!!

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I had an amazing time meeting 

new people and it made me 

excited to continue in research! 

I loved the opportunity to 

volunteer because I got to see 

how the conference was run and 

make new friends.

This was my first in-person conference and I 

had a wonderful time! 

Thank you very much for the great 


I am very appreciative of the hard work 

everyone did. There were a few flaws here 

and there: many cancellations (which you 

presumably had no control over),  but, 

overall, this conference was very, very good. 

I’m quite glad I attended, and look forward to 

Boise next year.

Botany is one of my favorite 

meetings. I think it is always well 

organized, and I appreciate all of 

the ongoing efforts to promote 

inclusivity and belonging. 

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Join us in Boise, Idaho, July 22-26, 2023

 for Scientific Talks - Posters - 

Special Lectures - Networking - Symposia and Colloquia - Receptions - Exhibits

Support Our Conference Exhibitors & Sponsors

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Botany 2023 will be presented by these Scientific Societies:

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Each year, the Botany conference sponsors a service project in the city that the conference is 

held—a form of corporate responsibility and an opportunity to give back to our hosts.

This past year in Anchorage, a group of volunteers went to the Taku Lake Park on Sunday 

morning and helped the U.S. Forest Service to rid the park of the invasive offender: Prunus 

padus, Bird Cherry!

Consider joining us in Boise for Botany 2023's Botany in Action!  You get a t-shirt, breakfast, 

lunch, and a feeling of doing something good!  Watch the conference website and social media 

for more information! 

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John H. Reisner came to the Republic of China in 1914 

with a graduate education in the field of agriculture 

and helped establish the College of Agriculture at the 

University of Nanking. Applying his personal knowledge 

and ability, Reisner made positive contributions to the 

preliminary formation and development of China’s 

modern higher education in agriculture, and promoted 

the distribution and extension of advanced western 

agricultural science and technology in Republican 

China. Our study offers a documented perspective, 

adding to previous research that had overlooked these 

aspects of Reisner’s early contributions.

John Henry Reisner (1888-1965):

Contributions to Agricultural Improvement Efforts in China 

and the Development of the College of Agriculture and 

Forestry at University of Nanking


When Chinese intellectuals of the late 19th 

century expressed concern for their country’s 

perceived deficiencies, they usually believed 

that it was the utilitarian power of science and 

technology that had made Western countries 

more powerful than China. To them, modern 

science was a cure-all to promote the country’s 

academics, politics, economy, and social lives. 

Consequently, science in China was greatly 

influenced by Western countries, through two 

By Song Shi and Lee B. Kass

Song Shi, College of Foreign Studies, Nanjing Agricultural University, No. 1 Weigang, 

210095, Nanjing, China. 
Lee B. Kass, School of Integrated Plant Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, 

Division of Plant and Soil Sciences, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV 26506
Corresponding authors:; l

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channels (Geng, 2015, p. 11). First, Western-

educated Chinese scholars served their 

country and the Chinese people by applying 

what they had learned abroad mostly in 

America; second, Westerners went to China 

to teach or communicate science to their 

colleagues and the public. Because agriculture 

has always been of the utmost significance to 

the Chinese people, and with the food supply 

being most critical, agricultural science was 

one of the most relevant fields or disciplines 

to Chinese concerns at the time.

Among the westerners, John Henry Reisner 

is a significant person to Chinese agriculture 

and education. Reisner, who had obtained 

his undergraduate degree from Yale College 

(B.A. 1911), and went on to receive a Master’s 

in Agriculture from Cornell (M.S.A. 1915), 

made contributions to China’s agricultural 

improvement in several respects and in a very 

comprehensive way. Yet, he has not gained as 

much deserved attention (Chang, 2014, p. 1), 

and only a partial history (Stross, 1986, p. 118) 

has been reported on Reisner, concentrating 

mostly on his missionary and educational 

contributions to Chinese Agriculture (Stross, 

1986, p. 100). Errors or inconsistencies can 

be found in current Chinese literature, which 

offers some brief information about Reisner’s 

membership in the group of Americans 

going to China and working in agriculture in 

modern times. 

Who was John Henry Reisner? What were 

his contributions to China’s agricultural 

improvement? The objective of this article is 

to reacquaint plant scientists and historians 

with the life and work of Reisner. A careful 

examination of his achievements and 

contributions should provide additional 

insights into the difficult evolution of China’s 

agricultural science and education.


John H(enry) Reisner was an agriculturist, 

born August 27, 1888, in Fredericksburg, 

Virginia (Shavit, 1990, p. 418). Brought up 

in a small community in Pennsylvania, he 

became well acquainted with farm operations 

(Stross, 1986, p. 86; Reisner, 1962, p. 1). 

He went to Mercersburg Academy, which 

offered preparation for college study, and 

graduated in 1907 to attend Yale College 

(undergraduate college, founded in 1701, of 

Yale University, established 1887; Dana et al., 

1911, p. 273; Yale University, 1920, pp. 150, 

733; Anonymous, 1965). He received the 

Bachelor of Arts from Yale in 1911 (Dana et 

al., 1911, pp. 273, 411; Yale University, 1920, 

pp. 150, 733) and in his later years (1950) 

received the Honorary Degree of Master of 

Arts (Anonymous, 1965) in recognition of 

his devotion and contributions to agricultural 

mission work. Such efforts included a wide 

range of agricultural and rural service 

activities carried out by Christian churches, 

aiming at promoting these organizations’ 

participation in the struggle to end poverty 

and foster development of rural communities 

in developing nations (Holcomb, 1922, pp. 52, 

362-363, 560).

Reisner worked with Agricultural Missions, 

Inc. from 1931 until his retirement in 1956. 

He assumed his duties as Executive Secretary 

on July 1, 1931. The group was organized by 

Dr. John R. Mott in November, 1930. The 

membership of the Board of Directors was 

divided equally between representatives of 

State Colleges of Agriculture, of Foreign 

Missions Boards, and nonprofessionals 

interested in agriculture and rural life. Later, 

Dr. Edna Noble White, Director of the 

Merrill-Palmer School in Detroit, Michigan, 

was added to represent Home Economics and 

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Family Life. Upon retiring, he made several 

trips to countries in the developing world, 

to study and conduct research on rural life 

and agriculture (Anonymous, 1965; Reisner, 

Unpublished, p. 4). He was an observer 

[consultant] for various church agencies with 

the United Nations Food and Agricultural 

Organization (FAO) on international 

affairs, and he served as a member of the 

Advisory Committee to the Director of Food, 

Agriculture, and Natural Resources Personnel 

of the Technical Cooperation Administration 

in the 1950s; thus, he was connected with 

the U.S. Technical Cooperation (Point IV) 

Program (Reisner, Unpublished, p. 5).

Reisner recalled that after he graduated from 

Yale, he was offered a teaching position at the 

University of Nanking in the Department of 

Biology (Reisner, 1962, p. 1). The University 

of Nanking, or Ginlin University (


was a private university in the city of Nanking 


南京), China, originally founded in 1888 and 

sponsored by American churches. Reisner 

did not feel that he had enough training in the 

field to take the job. Shortly thereafter, word 

came of the organization of the College of 

Agriculture and Forestry as an integral part 

of the University of Nanking, and Reisner 

indicated that he was much more interested 

in agriculture than in teaching biology. Being 

a mathematics graduate from Yale, and with 

some summer work experience on farms, he 

decided it would be worthwhile to get some 

specialized training; thus, he came to Cornell 

in 1912 to take agricultural courses in summer 

school. Contrary to a report that Reisner also 

obtained an undergraduate degree in Biology 

from Cornell (Stross, 1986, p. 85), it was 

soon after receiving his B.A. from Yale in 

1911 that Reisner attended the short course 

in Agriculture at Cornell in 1912 (Cornell 

University, 1913). He would go on to earn 

a Master of Science in Agriculture (M.S.A.) 

at Cornell in 1915 (Reisner 1915a; Reisner, 

1916; Holcomb, 1922, p. 362; Cline, 1982).

The first contact with scientific agriculture 

during the summer of 1912 opened Reisner’s 

eyes to the broad field, so that he decided to 

pursue further study before working in China. 

He then returned to Cornell in February, 

1913 for full-time study, and registered for 

an M.S. in Agriculture in the Department of 

Farm Crops (Reisner, Deceased alumni file, 

Reisner, Graduate School file). He majored in 

farm crops under Professor Edward Gerrard 

Montgomery and minored in plant breeding, 

with Professor A.W. Gilbert of the Plant 

Breeding Department (Cornell University, 

1914b; Reisner, 1915a; Cline, 1982, p. 202; 

Stross, 1986, p. 86). He was a member of the 

Plant Breeding Department’s Synapsis Club, 

a graduate student-faculty organization that 

met weekly for seminars and dinners (Figure 

1, Murphy and Kass, 2011, p. 147).

Figure 1. Department of Plant Breeding, 

Cornell University, Spring, 1914. Back Row, 

the first from the left is John Henry Reisner, 

and Dr. Gilbert, his minor professor of Plant 

Breeding, is sitting in first row, far left. (Re-

printed with permission from Murphy & Kass 


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Reisner finished the required courses for a 

master’s degree in September, 1914. He passed 

the qualifying examination but departed for 

China before completing his thesis. Later, in 

1915 at Nanking, Reisner finished writing his 

thesis on the history of wheat in New York 

State (Reisner, 1915b; Stross, 1986, p. 86) 

and was awarded his master’s degree from 

Cornell’s Department of Farm Crops on June 

16, 1915 (Reisner, 1915a, 1916). The course 

work that Reisner completed at Cornell, his 

appointment as Assistant in the Department 

of Farm Crops (Cornell University, 1914a, 

p. 181), and his thesis research problem 

(Reisner, 1915b) well prepared him for his 

future scientific contributions to agriculture 

in China.

In September he left for San Francisco, arriving 

in Nanking about a month later (Newberry, 

1998; Bailie, 1964, p. 60). Reisner was on the 

Faculty of the College of Agriculture and 

Forestry, University of Nanking from 1914 

to 1916, and Dean or Co-Dean from 1916 to 

1931 (Yale University, 1920, p. 150; Holcomb, 

1922, p. 560; Buck, 1973, p. 9; Shavit, 1990, 

p. 418). Mrs. Reisner helped to develop a 

cookbook employing Chinese food stuff. The 

objective of the book of recipes was for non-

Chinese people living in China to use the food 

grown locally, an initial effort to keep food 

available for allied soldiers fighting the war in 

Europe (WWI). It was published bilingually in 

English and Chinese (American National Red 

Cross, 1918; Jinling Da Xue, 1924)


 and was 

used for many years in most Asian countries 

(Newberry, 1998). After returning to the

 United States in 1931, Reisner was active with 

Agricultural Mission work, for which he was 

mostly remembered; he died in Hicksville, 

Long Island, New York, on April 26, 1965 

(Anonymous, 1965).






As mentioned above, Reisner was remembered 

more for his leadership in agricultural 

missionary activities, to “accompany and 

support people of faith and conscience around 

the world in the struggle to end poverty and 

injustice that affect rural communities” than 

for his specific achievements in agricultural 

research towards early development of 

China’s agricultural science and technology in 

modern history (Shavit, 1990, p. 418). He was 

the second person in China to hold a master’s 

degree in agriculture or forestry (Stross, 1986, 

pp. 85-86). The forestry scientist, An Han (

, 1883-1961), had been the first Chinese 

student to achieve a master’s degree in forestry 

from abroad. Han got his bachelor’s degree 

in 1909 at Cornell University and a master’s 

degree in 1911 at Michigan State University. 

After graduation, Han returned to work 

for the Chinese government and became a 

close friend of Reisner (Reisner, 1962, p. 10; 

Anonymous, 2016).


 The 1918 edition was prepared by the Committee on War Time Economy for the Household. It encouraged 

Americans overseas to use local food products to help save home food imports for the allied armies. A copy of the 

1918 edition is in the Cornell archives, donated by Mrs. Reisner’s daughter Jesse. The 1924 revised edition was 

published with the permission of the Nanking Chapter of the American Red Cross. It was apparently edited by 

Bertha Reisner, and she is listed as first author in the Stony Brook University Library catalogue.

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Reisner was also the first person on the 

faculty of the University of Nanking trained in 

agriculture. Clearly there were few men that 

had extensive training in what is called scientific 

agriculture today (Reisner, 1962, p. 10; Allen, 

1982). Considering the fact that the University 

of Nanking was the earliest institution in 

China offering degrees in agriculture and 

forestry—and has long held one of the leading 

positions in agricultural research, education 

and extension in modern China—Reisner 

later recalled, “Almost anything that one did 

in China at that time was a first” (Reisner, 

1962, p. 10; Stross, 1986, p. 86). Since Reisner 

was the earliest agriculturist on its faculty, his 

early efforts in applying or communicating 

scientific agriculture was undoubtedly 

pioneering and essential to the improvement 

of China’s traditional agriculture based on 

modern agricultural science (Reisner, 1921a; 

Stross, 1986, p. 85).

Reisner recalled that his most notable 

achievement was definitely in crop breeding 

and improvement. Not only did he institute the 

Plant Improvement Project, carried on from 

1925 to 1931 by Cornell and the University 

of Nanking with financial aid from the 

International Education Board (funded by the 

Rockefeller Foundation), which was regarded 

as the first notable example of international 

technical cooperation in agriculture (Love and 

Reisner, 2012, p. iii), but he also initiated very 

early trials in crop breeding and improvement 

upon his arrival in China (Reisner, 1926).

He also recalled, “I developed the first pure 

strain of wheat from a single plant which 

yielded very much more than the local farmer’s 

wheat and was used as the check variety in the 

plant breeding work tests until about 1929 or 

1930. I also developed a Chinese yellow corn 

from selections that I had made, I think, in the 

fall of the first year that I had been in Nanking. 

That corn proved to be valuable in very many 

parts of China” (Reisner, 1962, p. 6). The wheat 

variety developed by Reisner was No. 26, 

the first developed with “modern” breeding 

technology in China, and was quite popular 

among the farmers. This variety was distributed 

via the extension service and planted widely. 

For example, Cornell’s Professor C.H. Myers, 

Figure 2. A table in the final report of the Plant Improvement Project. (Reproduced from C.H. 

Myers, 1934, no copyright restrictions.)

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on leave at University of Nanking, reported on 

their Plant Improvement Project. He showed 

(Figure 2) that wheat No. 26 was used as a 

standard variety in experiments during 1927 

to 1931, yielding 7% better results than the 

farmers’ variety in use at the time (Myers, 

1934, p. 60). Such success gave Reisner much 

confidence in crop breeding, and a strong 

belief that it would be a very promising career 

in China (Reisner, 1926; Zhao, 2015). Reisner 

(1926) predicted that, “Increased agricultural 

production in China will come most easily and 

quickly through increasing yield by scientific 

plant selection.”

The corn Reisner introduced to China was 

named Nanking Yellow. It was developed 

with completely new and so-called modern 

breeding technology, as summarized by Love 

and Reisner (2012, p. 22): “Corn improvement 

was begun by Dean J.H. Reisner when he first 

went to the College of Agriculture and Forestry 

in 1914. He followed the ear-row method that 

was being used at most experiment stations in 

the United States at that time by the selection of 

individual plants and continuing the selection 

process. The Nanking Yellow developed by this 

method proved to be a good variety, especially 

in the area of the Yangtze River, and it also did 

well in some areas farther away.”

Dr. Shen Tsung-han (

沈宗翰), a renowned 

Chinese plant breeder and agriculturist, 

reflected  in  1934  on  the  origin  and 

development of China’s plant breeding 

career, by saying that China’s plant breeding 

originated in about 1915 and had experienced 

two stages. Compared to a person’s growth, 

the first stage (1915-1924) was like childhood, 

while the second stage (1924-1934) was like 

a teenager. The time of origination was just 

about the time of Reisner’s arrival, and the 

advancement of the second stage was the 

Cornell-Nanking Plant Improvement Project, 

initiated by Reisner. Evidently Reisner holds 

a close connection with China’s early crop 

breeding programs. Furthermore, Shen also 

listed several representative personnel within 

the process of this career, among whom 

Reisner  was  specifically  named  for  both 

stages, respectively (Shen and Ma, 1934, p. 14).

Reisner was one of the earliest individuals 

to introduce modern breeding methods to 

China, and thus laid the foundation of China’s 

crop breeding and improvement in Chinese 

modern history. From the standpoint of crop 

improvement, no extensive experiments had 

been conducted previously, other than those 

made by Dean Reisner and his associates. 

Within about ten years of Reisner’s arrival 

in China, the Cornell-Nanking Crop 

Improvement Project began to achieve 

remarkable success and bring about long-

lasting influence to promote the development 

of China’s modern scientific agriculture. 

In addition to food crop breeding, Reisner 

also did research on cotton improvement, 

which resulted in some very valuable results 

and conclusions for Chinese agriculture 

(Nanking College of Agriculture, 1920, 

1924). We describe next accounts of Reisner’s 

contributions to those efforts. In addition, 

Reisner’s philosophy, initiated for permanent 

famine prevention, will be described separately 


Popular accounts of cotton improvement 

in modern China refer to achievements by 

foreigners, and most credited American-

born J.B. Griffing. Many attributions made 

no mention of Reisner’s earlier contributions 

(Cotton Millowners [sic] Association, 1923; 

Anonymous, 1924). According to several 

scholars, the University of Nanking introduced 

an American cotton variety and domesticated 

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Chinese local cotton prior to Griffing’s arrival 

in China (Stross, 1986, p. 122; Shen, 2004).

Reisner’s earliest involvement in Chinese 

cotton improvement apparently stems from 

his university affiliation as early as 1914, 

his professional training in agriculture, and 

more importantly his published articles 

on cotton improvement: “Cotton Seed and 

Cotton Improvement in China” (Reisner, 

1920), and “Dangers and Control of Cotton 

Seed Importation and Distribution in China” 

(Reisner, 1921a, pp. 473-474), as found in the 

Shanghai-issued English magazine “Millard’s 

Review of the Far East.” Both of these early 

reports offered very valuable suggestions 

and recommendations on China’s cotton 

improvement and were published only 

months after Griffing and O.F. Cook arrived 

at the University of Nanking in 1919 to assist 

with the program (Stross, 1986, p. 121).

As early as 1920, Reisner reported, “In the 

Egyptian cotton area of Arizona [USA] 

recently developed, it is illegal and punishable 

by law to plant any other kind of cotton except 

Egyptian within the area. Only in this way 

can improvements made in raw cotton be 

maintained. This is because of the fact that 

cotton cross pollinates, and where two plants 

of different varieties are grown together, 

cross pollination invariably takes place, and 

crossing always leads to deterioration … Pure 

seeds, of improved strains, produced on seed 

farms with capable supervision is the goal 

toward which efforts should be directed for 

the improvement of the native staple.” He also 

pointed out that not enough attention was 

being paid to the improvement of the local 

varieties, while it seemed as if undue emphasis 

was being put upon the importation of foreign 

seed, especially from America (Reisner, 1920). 

By 1921, he also used the lesson of the United 

States to remind Chinese people of the concept 

of plant quarantines: “The United States has 

suffered keen losses through the introduction 

of plant insects and diseases from foreign 

countries, and yearly expends large sums 

of money in trying to control such insects 

and diseases and prevent the introduction 

of others” (Stross, 1986, p. 127). “The most 

serious danger connected with the importation 

of American cotton seed is the introduction of 

the Mexican Boll Weevil … No less imminent 

are the dangers of distributing the insects 

and diseases which now effect [sic] Chinese 

cotton. Of these probably the Pink Boll worm 

is by far the most important, distributed as it 

is over practically the entire cotton growing 

area. Club-leaf disease, associated with the 

leaf hopper, is an important disease, widely 

distributed, for which there is no known 

control” (Reisner, 1921a).

Reisner’s suggestion included adequate 

provision for controlling all importation and 

scientific means for proper fumigation of all 

foreign cotton seed, and limitation to one 

or two ports of entry for importation with 

prohibition on importation by parcel post, 

and so forth (Reisner, 1921a). Noteworthy 

is that Reisner might be one of the earliest 

agriculturalists to introduce the concept 

and practice of plant quarantine to China. 

According to Shi and Zhang (2002, p. 298), 

it was only Tsou Ping-wen (

邹秉文) who 

had previously mentioned the idea of disease 

prevention in 1916, which was only a few 

years before Reisner’s suggestion. They also 

reported that after Reisner, Cai Banghua 


蔡邦华) published an article on the need to 

establish a national plant quarantine station in 

1922. And later, in 1929, Zhang Jing’ou (


欧) started to build plant quarantine stations 

at Guangzhou and Shanghai by order of the 


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Reading the early articles authored by Reisner, 

one senses that he was fully acquainted with 

cotton improvement research and had deep 

insights into the practical work in China. 

This was clearly on the basis of his first-hand 

involvement or understanding of cotton 

improvement and wide range of knowledge in 

several disciplines in the field of agriculture. 

Reisner’s earliest commitment and pioneering 

contributions to China’s cotton improvement 

research may be documented by Griffing 

(1920): “The work on cotton improvement by 

the writer may be said to have begun when he 

accompanied Dr. O.F. Cook of Washington, 

D.C., U.S.A., and Prof. J.H. Reisner, of the 

University of Nanking, on an expedition of 

survey of cotton experiments and cotton 

problems throughout East, Central and North 

China. The findings of this investigation 

have been of inestimable value as a basis for 

the further work on cotton which we have 

taken up.” Cook was invited by the University 

of Nanking to offer guidance on cotton 

improvement, and he came to China in 1919 

(Li, 2012, p. 136). Griffing then followed 

with a successful cotton research project at 

University of Nanking (Stross, 1986, p. 123).

China’s economic development during this 

time coincided with Reisner’s major work in 

agricultural research on food crops and cotton, 

reflecting the Chinese peoples’ two basic 

necessities for survival, namely adequate food 

supply and good quality clothing for warmth. 

Residing in China for an agricultural mission, 

Reisner actually chose the most effective ways 

and means to apply his personal knowledge 

and ability, as well as fulfill this mission.











Originally offered the position of teaching 

at the University of Nanking, Reisner taught 

courses in agronomy and plant breeding 

for several years (Allen, 1982). Reisner’s 

achievements in promoting China’s higher 

agricultural education, however, may be 

considered greater than his classroom 

teaching contributions. He was the chief 

person responsible for the initial development 

of the College of Agriculture and Forestry 

at University of Nanking, the establishment 

of which marked the beginning of China’s 

modern higher agricultural education system, 

as it was the first institute in China to offer 

a four-year bachelor’s degree in the field of 

agriculture (Dong et al., 2014). Historically, 

the College of Agriculture and Forestry grew 

out of the concern of Joseph Bailie, a teacher 

of mathematics at the University of Nanking, 

who was the first dean of the College, and 

succeeded by Reisner (Reisner, 1962, p. 4; 

Stross, 1986, p. 68; Zhang, 2002, p. 294).

Reisner (1962, p. 5) spoke highly of Bailie’s 

work in establishing the College, while also 

asserting, “He had been Dean of the College 

of Agriculture and Forestry but was away 

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from the College most of the time. Being the 

one person on the campus with a degree in 

agriculture, the President turned over to me 

most of the relationships with the students.” 

Reisner arrived just in time to assist with the 

instruction of the first class of agriculture 

students in the College. “I was the first person 

on the faculty with any training in agriculture. 

I was supposed to spend a year in language 

school but the students soon became restless 

and went to the President and asked that in 

view of the fact that I was on the campus that I 

should provide some technical courses, which 

I did to the detriment of my study of the 

Chinese language” (Stross, 1986, pp. 67, 86)


When Bailie resigned as Dean of the College

Reisner was appointed to assume his duties 

in 1916. Reisner had been very involved in 

administration of the College until returning 

to America in 1931. During Reisner’s era, the 

College of Agriculture and Forestry developed 

rapidly. It not only maintained the strongest 

faculty but turned out the best-trained 

students in China, many of whom became 

national leaders in agricultural development, 

research, teaching, and administration. The 

budget for the year 1916-1917 was 13,458.36 

silver dollars and increased to 188,702.04 

silver dollars for the year 1930-1931. The 

number of students in 1916-1917 was 52 (46 

undergraduates and 6 graduates) and stood at 

197 in 1930-1931 (163 undergraduates and 34 

graduates) (Buck, 1973, p. 11).

Some reasons for the College’s rapid progress, 

during Reisner’s administration, include his 

idea of applying a land grant college system, 

which was “devoted equally to teaching, 

research, and extension.” Such idea and 

practice was already very successful as a result 

of the Morrill Acts (1862, 1890) and Hatch 

Act (1887) in America, but was innovative 

in China. The nearly equal emphasis on 

instruction, research, and extension enlisted 

support for the College from both missionary 

organizations and government. This approach 

to higher agricultural education was later 

adopted by other institutions in China, 

including the Agricultural Department 

of public Nanking Normal College, and 

the Agricultural Department of Southeast 

University (later National Central University), 

among others. Subsequently, this method has 

become widely influential in China’s history of 

modern education (He, 2011, pp. 42-43).

Another reason for the College’s development is 

that Reisner maintained close personal contact 

with government, agricultural, and personnel 

programs, as well as with Cornell University, 

Cornellians, and agricultural missionaries 

from the United States. These affiliations 

offered significant support and help to the 

College’s instruction, research, and extension, 

afforded by Reisner’s first-hand understanding 

of the many difficulties involved in China’s 

agricultural and economic development. 

On his first furlough, 1920-1922, he secured 

$950,000 for the growth and expansion of the 

College (Reisner, Unpublished, p. 2). Other 

than financial support, “Many of the students 

whom I came to know during my year and 

a half at Cornell [1912-1914] later became 

professors and heads of departments in the 

College and have been my friends throughout 

the years. It was during this time, also, that I 

met the members of the Department of Plant 

Breeding; Dr. Love, especially, with whom I 

was to become closely associated in later years 

in the development of the Cornell University/

International Education Board/University of 

Nanking Crop Improvement Project” (Reisner, 

1962, p. 2). Additionally, Reisner decided to 

make some changes to the Nanking College of 

Agriculture in 1920 and created a department 

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of agricultural economics and established 

a formal extension program to convey the 

College’s work to more farmers in China. 

Therefore, he invited fellow Cornellian John 

Lossing Buck (1890-1975, Cornell B.S. 1914, 

M.A. 1925, The Register, 1924-1925, pp. 145, 

136; Ph.D. 1933) to join him in accomplishing 

these goals. Buck further embodied the 

modern approach to agriculture in China, 

expressing it in the courses he taught, and 

applying it in research and extension (Allen, 1982).

Due to the advanced scientific ideology and 

techniques brought and introduced by those 

invited, who contributed American expertise, 

the College soon pioneered many aspects of 

modern agriculture in China under Reisner’s 

leadership. For example, its research studies in 

farm management and agricultural economics, 

by J.L. Buck, were noteworthy and are still 

standard reference materials. Its Price Index 

was used by both government and business in 

China. Its crop reporting system was in time 

transferred to government. It also pioneered 

in extension programs and techniques, 

in community development programs, in 

rural education under J.B. Griffing, in the 

improvement of sericulture and in plant 

pathology. Moreover, its work in forestry was 

for many years the only program of its kind in 

China (Reisner, unpublished, p. 1).

Furthermore, another policy initiated and 

maintained by Reisner, demonstrating 

his ability in management, was to include 

a competent Chinese colleague as a Co-

Dean, thus creating a Chinese-American 

administration of the College. He voluntarily 

resigned as Dean in 1925 with the intention 

of bringing in a Chinese administrator, and 

he was then elected Co-Dean, which position 

he held until his resignation in 1931. Reisner’s 

policy proved to be a wise and successful 

choice considering China’s domestic position, 

and given that local people opposed control 

by foreigners at that time. For example, The 

Nanking Incident occurred on March 21-

23, 1927, when Chinese Nationalist troops 

entered the city as part of their Northern 

Expedition military campaign (1926-1928). 

Troops particularly targeted the city’s foreign 

residents; several were killed or injured and 

their property looted. Dr. John Elias Williams 

(1871-1927), Vice President of University of 

Nanking, was murdered. The Cornell Alumni

News reported on the 1927 lootings in Nanking 

(Anonymous, 1927): Cornell Alumni, Mr. 

& Mrs. Reisner, Tuan Shin Kuo (Dean of 

Agriculture and Forestry), John Lossing 

Buck, and John B. Griffing (graduate student 

in 1925-1926) had “left the city in safety.” 

And Professor Roy G. Wiggans of Cornell 

was waiting in Shanghai for word of further 

developments to proceed on to Nanking.







Rural Missions or Agricultural Missions 

include all efforts to achieve a satisfactory 

agriculture and a satisfying life in rural 

communities, which was originally a broad 

field calling for all valid means for expressing 

Christian redemptive concern for people 

on the land in concrete ways that they can 

understand and accept (Moomaw, 1956). As 

an agricultural missionary, Reisner wanted 

to help people without “preaching” at them 

(Reisner, 1956). Therefore, he set his mission to 

study and analyze local agricultural problems, 

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and devise and teach practical methods to 

improve agriculture (Newberry, 1998).

In 1918, L.H. Bailey, former dean of Cornell’s 

College of Agriculture, commented on the 

missionaries’ role in China, “It is estimated 

that eighty-five percent of the population of 

China is agricultural. The missionary who 

can aid the people in their farming will have 

a double hold” (Bailey, 1918). At that time, 

frequent flooding, which often caused famine 

conditions, was the worst problem, so that 

famine prevention was the most challenging 

and a complicated task to be tackled by those 

mission stations. Dean Reisner’s predecessor, 

Dean Bailie, who previously was involved in 

famine relief work in the Hwai River area, was 

disturbed by the perennial need for relief in 

China. To overcome this problem, he sought 

to establish “a college where men could be 

trained in both agriculture and forestry; and 

thus, make their own contribution to solving 

the famine problem” (Allen, 1982). Possibly 

influenced by Bailie’s work and ideology, 

Reisner came to two convictions early on: 

(1) Chinese people must be trained to do the 

job (in a modern way) and (2) the job itself 

was complex, involving quite a few aspects, 

including better seeds, education, flood 

control, among others (Reisner, Unpublished, 

p. 1). Following on Bailie’s famine relief work, 

Reisner further developed his understanding 

of China’s need for a famine prevention 

concept (Murray, 1921, p. 55).

In his book Reforesting China, Permanent 

Famine Prevention versus Famine Relief

Reisner (1921b) defined famine prevention 

as a comprehensive program involving 

several factors, including improvements 

in agriculture. He reemphasized in Famine 

Prevention by Reforestation and Improved 

Agriculture  (Reisner, 1922, p. 1) that “the 

problems involved in the prevention of 

famines in China are extremely complicated, 

interdependent and strike at the very roots 

of China’s present economic and social life 

and customs. Many factors are involved.” He 

believed that “such statements applied more 

particularly to the region north of the Yangtze 

River in which floods and famine are most 

frequent, but in many cases apply to conditions 

in the south as well” (Reisner, 1922, p. 2).

On the basis of such a philosophy, Reisner 

began to seek opportunities to make his 

unique contribution to China’s situation. He 

planned to apply his work in the College and 

utilize his personal academic resources and 

social relations (Reisner, 1921c)


 He tried to 

popularize his ideas by instituting a rather 

comprehensive program to fulfill agricultural 

improvement and permanent famine 

prevention. The acceptance of this philosophy 

is best illustrated by the earliest large-scale 

Sino-U.S. cooperation: the Cornell-Nanking 

Crop Improvement Project. Apparently, 

the science and the education pursuit took 

precedence over the religious mission of 


The Cornell-Nanking story originated from 

another serious famine occurring in the 

same general Hwai River area in 1920. U.S. 

President Woodrow Wilson responded by 

setting up a Committee of One Hundred for 

China Famine Relief. The famine relief work 

ended sooner than had been anticipated and 

the Committee found itself with considerable 

unused funds and the problem of how they 

could be most wisely and widely used (Stross, 

1986, p. 139). At that time, most international 

famine relief work groups devoted their efforts 

to public works projects beyond emergency 

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relief—particularly emphasizing river control 

projects, represented by the China International 

Relief Commission (Li, 2007, p. 302).

China International Famine Relief 

Commission was formed in September 1921 

and became a permanent relief organization 

composed of existing famine relief groups. 

It functioned for almost two decades as the 

key private voluntary organization of relief 

operations. Its directors and constituents 

were both Chinese and foreigners, and it had 

branches and projects in most of the provinces 

in China. It saw itself not as an emergency 

relief group but as an organization dedicated 

to seeking a “permanent improvement” of 

conditions in China.

Just at this time, Reisner submitted a proposal 

to the Committee of One Hundred for 

China Famine Relief, requesting that some 

of the unused funds be used for long-term 

famine prevention purposes, especially in the 

field of agriculture. His proposal was soon 

approved. Thus, the College of Agriculture 

at University of Nanking was appropriated 

around $750,000 (Love and Reisner, 2012, 

p. 3). Reisner’s next step was to design an 

effective and comprehensive program, to best 

apply his philosophy and fulfill his mission, 

and to help alleviate hunger and poverty in 

China. In 1924, Co-Dean Reisner proposed 

to Dr. H.H. Love, of the Department of Plant 

Breeding at Cornell University, a cooperative 

institutional arrangement whereby he and two 

of his associates would spend one year each 

at the College of Agriculture and Forestry in 

Nanking to help develop its plant breeding 

program and give further training to its 

staff (Figure 3) (Stross, 1986, p. 144, see also 

Chapter 6; Love and Reisner, 2012, p. 2). 

Actually, each professor made a second visit 

during a six-year period. Through a series of 

summer training courses, practically every 

plant breeder in China received training. 

Many of these students were further trained 

at Cornell. The outstanding practical result 

was in better seeds for the farmers. Their 

account of these accomplishments, The 

Cornell – Nanking Story: the First International 

Technical Cooperation Program in Agriculture 

by Cornell University, first published in 1963 

(Love and Reisner, 1963, reprinted 1964 

and 2012),  reports the significance of the 

program: “Higher yielding strains of wheat, 

barley, rice, kaoliang [Sorghum bicolor] and 

soybeans, cotton and millet—all of them 

important crops in east and north China—

were developed and put into distribution to 

farmers. Crop improvement methods were 

standardized throughout the area and later 

adopted throughout most of China. Detailed 

plans for small grain breeding and testing 

were prepared and made available in the 

Chinese language” (Love and Reisner, 2012, 

p. 55). Later, Dr. Love was invited to China 

by the Ministry of Agriculture and helped to 

establish its National Agricultural Research 

Bureau. The contributions accruing to Cornell 

were generously acknowledged (Zuidema, 

2013, p. 8).

The Cornell-Nanking Story was undoubtedly 

a very comprehensive cooperation, involving 

education, extension, agricultural research, 

and many other practices. Another value 

of such cooperation was its creation of an 

approach, called “educational assistance.” The 

latter brought training for the U.S. Point IV 

Program and the widely accepted method of 

“Technical Assistance” (Buck, 1973, p. 5; Turk, 

1974, p. 13).

At the time of the Cornell-Nanking program, 

the term “technical assistance” had not 

yet come into the prominence it attained 

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later. From most viewpoints it means the 

development of international understanding 

and good will; the transfer of technical 

knowledge to a host country; the establishment 

of an ongoing program definitely related to a 

pressing national need; and the creation of a 

reservoir of well-trained nationals capable of 

carrying on when the “technicians” departed. 

Such a program could be rated as “technical 

assistance” at its best, in modern terms, 

without the demand of religious conversion. 

With the results obtained and in terms of its 

low cost, it probably set some kind of a record 

(Love and Reisner, 2012, p. 56). We may 

also conclude that Reisner’s philosophy and 

initiation for permanent famine prevention 

led to an innovative project of the later 

Point IV Program, and pioneering trial of 

the technical assistance programs, which is 

still very significant and popular in current 

international society.


Over the centuries, the vast land of China 

has resisted changes that successive waves of 

foreign reformers sought to force upon its 

people. As a foreign innovator, Mr. Reisner had 

early realized that the fundamental situation 

in China then was not just its government, 

its social institutions, or its commercial 

development, but also its agriculture, because 

those millions of people must be clothed, fed, 

and supported, and the standard of living 

must certainly rise. Like the first man to walk 

on the moon, Reisner never bragged of being 

first in his scientific accomplishments, and 

he believed that he was only doing his job 

(Kalb, 2012). Unlike those who are famously 

remembered for being first, Reisner’s new, 

unique, and innovative achievements seem 

to have been overlooked in many historical 

Figure 3. In front of the College of Agriculture, University of Nanking. Front row, the 11



the left is Reisner, and the 13


 is Dr. Love [date ca. 1925]. (Image used with permission of Plant 

Breeding and Genetics, Cornell University.)

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accounts. And the difficulties he overcame to 

accomplish his goals have not been lauded or 

imbedded in most memories. Reisner’s major 

interest was in the rural people of China, 

and the whole developing world, and in their 

aspiration for a better life. His contributions to 

agricultural improvement work in China were 

creative and pioneering. His long residence 

in China proved to be both successful and 

influential and are still remembered there to 

this day.


The authors thank Prof. Max Pfefferfor inviting 

Song Shi to do research as visiting scholar at 

Cornell University and Prof. Ronnie Coffman 

for recommending Prof. Lee B. Kass as mentor 

to Song Shi; Kass appreciates the invitation to 

co-author the manuscript. The authors also 

thank staff at International Programs, College 

of Agriculture and Life Science (IP CALS), 

Cornell University, especially Prof. Coffman 

and Ms. Denise M. Percey, for offering a 

nice workplace and environment, and much 

kind help for Shi’s research. Additionally, the 

authors are grateful to Ms. Eileen Keating and 

Ms. Elaine Engst, archivists and librarians at 

Division of Rare & Manuscript Collections, 

Kroch Library, Cornell University, for their 

kind help with archival searches. Song Shi 

thanks Jesse Reisner Middlemast for sharing 

her father’s, J.H. Reisner, Unpublished 

“Memorandum,” which had been distributed 

to his eight grandchildren on June 4, 1965. We 

are grateful to Allan Paul Shatkin, President, 

Bright Star Educational Services (Monterey 

Park, CA) and Bai Yongbo, President, Be-

There Education Abroad (Hangzhou, China), 

for reviews of Chinese names. Finally, the 

authors thank Prof. Mark Tauger, West 

Virginia University, for his critical comments 

and editorial suggestions on early drafts of the 



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Yuan Wei Zhong Xin De Yan Jiu. Zhong Guo 

Nong Shi 23: 24-31.
Shen, Z. H. and B. Z. Ma. 1934. Zhong Guo 

Zuo Wu Yu Zhong Shi Ye Zhi Guo Qu Xian 

Zai Ji Jiang Lai, Zhong Guo Zuo Wu Gai Li-

ang Yan Jiu Hui Yi Yan Jiang Ji. Shi Ye Bu 

Zhong Yang Nong Ye Shi Yan Suo, Nanjing, 

China.  [On Z.H./T.H. Shen, see Stross 1986, 

Chap. 8 (Cornell student 1924, p. 193); on 

T.H..(Z.H.) Shen, Cornell Ph.D. 1928, see 

Murphy and Kass, 2011, pp. 46, 120].
Shi, Y. C. and X. Q. Zhang (Eds.). 2002. Chi-

nese Academic Canon in the 20th Century,

Agricultural Science (20 Shi Ji Zhong Guo 

Xue Shu Da Dian. Nong Ye Ke Xue). Fujian 

Jiao Yu Chu Ban She, Fuzhou, China.
Stross, R. E. 1986. The Stubborn Earth: 

American Agriculturalists on Chinese Soil, 

1898-1937. Berkeley: University of Cali-

fornia Press.

The Register 1924-1925 (1 Sept, 1925); 

Vol. 16. No. 17, Cornell University, Itha-

ca, NY.


Turk, K. L. 1974. The Cornell-Los Baños story

Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.
Yale University. 1920. Alumni Directory of 

Yale University (Graduates and Non-grad-

uates). Yale University, New Haven, CT.

Zhang, X. 2002. Jinling Da Xue Shi. Nanjing 

Da Xue Chu Ban She, Nanjing, China.
Zhao, X. Y. 2015. Si Xiang Yu Shi Jian: Nong 

Ye Chuan Jiao Shi Yu Zhong Guo Nong Ye 

Xian Dai Hua – Yi Jinling Da Xue Nong Xue 

Yuan Wei Zhong Xin. Zhong Guo Nong Shi

Zuidema, L. W. 2013. Cornell University 

meets the challenge of world agriculture. 

In: Royal D. Colle, Editor, Cornell Univer-

sity – The Global Dimension. Cornell Asso-

ciation of Professors Emeriti (CAPE), Ithaca, 

NY. Chapter 3. https://ecommons.cornell.


pdf?sequence=16&isAllowed=y; (Incremen-

tal e-book on-line 2008, Chapter 3 submit-

ted 2013,


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Amelia Neely

BSA Membership & 



E-mail: ANeely@



The BSA Spotlight Series (

spotlight-series.html) highlights early career scientists in the BSA community and shares 

both scientific goals and achievements, as well as personal interests of the botanical scientists, 

so you can get to know your BSA community better.

Here are the latest Spotlights:

Molly Edwards, Science Communicator, Science IRL Productions


Brandon Corder, Graduate Student, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Greg Tooley, Graduate Student, Kansas State University


Would you like to nominate yourself or another early career scientist to be in the Spotlight Series?

Fill out this form:

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A big thank you to Teressa Alexander, the 

2021-2022 BSA Student Social Media Liaison, 

for her amazing work this year supporting 

BSA on our social media platforms.

Teressa is now in her 5th year at the University 

of the West Indies, Trinidad, where she 

is pursuing a Ph.D. in Plant Science. She 

continues to study the response of cacao 

(Theobroma cacao) to drought stress toward 

strategies to buffer the effects of climate change 

on the crop in the southern Caribbean. Teressa 

will continue to work diligently in science, art, 

and outreach. Using science as the foundation, 

she has been communicating plant science 

mainly through photography and has plans to 

produce short films. She is also the co-founder 

of STEMNoire, a scientific conference and 

wellness retreat for black women in STEM, 

and she mentors Caribbean students seeking 

direction in STEM careers through the 

Cariscolar program and independently.


Do you want to know more about what the 

BSA has to offer you as a member? Each month 

a new BSA resource will be highlighted in the 

BSA  Membership Matters newsletter in the 

“Did You know” section. Below are the three 

most recent resources. Visit

and browse the website to find even more 

great information.

• BSA has a brand new Student Mem-

ber Hub (


html)! The 2021-2022 BSA Student 

Representatives, Imeña Valdes and Ioana 

Anghel, gathered information into one 

spot to help student members navigate 

and get the most out of being in the BSA 

community. If you have ideas to include 

on this web page, email them to cur-

rent BSA Student Representatives Ioana 

Anghel ( and Eli 

Hartung (

• You can access the current BSA Stra-

tegic Plan! Want to know the Society’s 

strategic priorities, goals, and strategies? 

To access the entire strategic plan, see Included is our 

new mission statement: To inspire and 

promote an inclusive global community 

committed to advancing fundamental 

knowledge and innovation in the botanical 

sciences for the benefit of people and the 


• You can show your support of BSA 

with a Zoom background! Virtual meet-

ings seem here to stay, so why not show 

off your membership with BSA by using 

a free BSA Zoom background? Visit:

zoom-backgrounds.html. Click on the 

photo you would like to use and you will 

be led to a hi-resolution photo to right-

click and download. Have some great 

ideas for a Zoom background? Email

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Botany360 is a series of programming that 

connects our botanical community during 

the 360 days outside of Botany Conferences. 

The Botany360 event calendar is a tool to 

highlight those events. To access the calendar, 

see recordings, register for events, or apply 

to have your event included in Botany360, 

go to


Recent and Upcoming Events 

• Intro to Reviews and Meta-analysis

(November 7, 2022) - Recording now 


Introduction to writing a review article, 

including question formulation, quantita-

tive vs. qualitative approaches, systematic 

review methods. Available at https://bit.


• Utilizing Botany Conference Content in 

Your Teaching

(November 2, 2022) - Recording now 


Brought to you by the BSA Teaching Section

Through the pandemic, our annual 

Botany conference has changed to al-

low virtual and asynchronous participa-

tion, hosting for a year our online talks 

and other materials. Our students, 

classrooms, and labs could benefit from 

engaging with Botany conference content 

throughout the year. 


Applying to Grad School  A Q&A 


(September 20, 2022) - Recording now 


Brought to you by the BSA Early Career 

Professional Development Committee

This event was aimed at providing helpful 

information and guidance for students 

thinking about applying to graduate 

school in plant sciences. Panelists have 

a range of experience and come from a 

variety of institution types. After brief 

introductions and some initial questions 

from the host, an open and moderated 

Q&A was conducted. 






We are very excited to share that thanks to an 

anonymous donor and long-time BSA member, 

the Society has established an endowed fund 

to support the PhD research of graduate 

students in the area of comparative plant 

biology, broadly speaking, from genome 

to whole organism. The new award of 

up to $10,000 may be used to support 

equipment and supplies, travel for research 

and to attend meetings, and for summer 

support. International students are welcome 

to apply. The online portal for applications 

will open in a few months, and the deadline for 

submissions is February 15. Learn more about 

the new award at


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This award joins the other $10,000 BSA 

award, the Donald R. Kaplan Dissertation 

Award in Comparative Morphology

The Kaplan comparative morphology 

award, established with an endowed fund 

by the Kaplan family, promotes research 

in plant comparative morphology and 

supports the PhD research of graduate 

students in this area. For more information 

about this award, go to https://botany.



We want to show our appreciation for 

both  families  for  helping  us  fulfill  the 

goals in our strategic plan by supporting 

students and botanical research. To discuss 

the ways in which you can support the 

Society through endowed gifts, please 

email BSA Executive Director Heather 

Cacanindin at





BSA Student Chapter officers and advisors 

were notified of changes to the Student Chapter 

program earlier this year. The deadline to make 

the updates to chapters, and to turn in two event 

forms, is December 31, 2022. Any chapters 

that do not have these two things finished 

by that deadline will be under consideration 

for termination from the program.

To learn more about the changes, see 

the New Student Chapter Application at


Would you like to start your own Student 

Chapter at your Institution? Visit the page 

above and fill out the form to get started.


Thank you for your current BSA 

membership support! BSA provides annual 

memberships that run from January to 

December of each year. This year there are 

slight increases in dues for the Professional 

and Retired membership categories—the 

first dues increase since 2014, to help cover 

increasing costs of doing business

While renewing, you can also renew your 

sectional  affiliationsdonate to the 

BSA endowment, award funds, and 

section award funds, and purchase gift 

memberships. If you are not due to renew 

this year, we hope you will consider donating 

to BSA and giving gift memberships during 

the fourth quarter.

Year-end Giving

BSA is proud to provide over $120,000 in 

awards and grants to our members every 

year. Most of these are funded directly by the 

generosity of our members via donations to 

specific award funds. We hope that you will 

consider making a donation to our many 

funds including student, professional, and 

sectional award funding, when you renew 

your membership this year. You can also visit anclick Donate to start 

giving right now. 

Professional members are given the 

opportunity of increasing their annual dues by 

$25 in order to support the Graduate Student 

Research Award fund. Together with GSRA 

donations, over $29,407 in additional funds 

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were raised for the GSRA in the last fiscal year 

and 31 GSRA awards were able to be given in 

2022. Thank you to all of our members who 

made this possible.

Both the Endowment Fund and the 

Unrestricted Fund have very important roles 

in the stability and longevity of BSA. We hope 

you will consider making donations to these 

funds when choosing your year-end donation 

plans. Donations to these funds are being used 

to move BSA into the future, and to support 

our global community like never before.

Want an even more lasting way to support 

BSA? Consider joining the Legacy Society

To learn more about the society see our 

latest Legacy Society email at https://

2022-dr1, or visit our Legacy Society 

web page at


BSA Gift Memberships

The 2022 Gift Membership Drive has begun! 

This year our goal will be 175 gift memberships 

from now through December 31, 2022! 

BSA Gift Memberships are a great way to 

introduce students and developing nations’ 

colleagues to the BSA community. You can 

purchase one-year ($10) or three-year ($30) 

gift memberships by visiting: https://botany.

org and choosing “Give a Gift Membership.” 

Don’t have anyone specific for whom to 

purchase a gift membership? Not a problem! 

You can put your own name and email in the 

gift membership fields and we will make sure 

they get to those students and developing 

nations’ colleagues who need financial 

assistance. Questions about gift memberships 

or other ways to donate? Email Amelia Neely 


We are giving back! Any gift membership 

recipient who starts their membership before 

January 31, 2023 will be entered into a drawing 

for a free registration for Botany 2023

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60 years ago

“An awareness of the nature and of the urgency, which I feel very keenly, of these problems and 

of the taxonomists’ possible roles in their solutions brings with it definite responsibilities. We 

must educate and 'sell' to the public, to the politicians, to the statesmen on the world scene, and 

even to many of our own colleagues in related sciences, a vigorous program of exploration for, 

and conservation of, plant materials today unknown.

“There are other matters in which we have responsibilities, and which need our attention: For 

example, the recruitment of young workers to our field, a more adequate use of youngsters and 

amateurs in our research programs, the preservation of local natural areas for future educational 

and training programs. All of these and others, if properly handled, could furnish us with much 

greater opportunities.”

--Sharp, A.J. 1962. Responsibilities and Opportunities of the Taxonomist Today. PSB 8(3): 7-9

50 years ago

“Consider the chemistry of any of the modern herbicides or pesticides. Knowledge of the 

compound’s basic molecular structure, its method of synthesis, and most modifications of its 

structure is the product of decades of basic organic chemistry — not information gained in 

the last few years as the compound became useful. In fact, had it not been for years of basic 

research we simply would not have the arsenal of chemicals used in our everyday life. On second 

thought, that might be a good argument against basic research.

“Finally it would be fun to speculate on the consequences to present-day plant breeding and 

genetics if, back in the mid-1800’s, some Chairman or Dean Friar had walked up to a certain 

monk and said “Gregor!, get these damn wrinkled, yellow peas out of here and get on to 

something important like growing bigger potatoes!”

. . .The Editor’s comment notwithstanding, it seems to me that there is still a place for any kind of 

well-done research, be it immediately relevant or not. [M. Taylor, PSB editor]

--Rickson, Fred R. 1972. To Be Basic is Basic. PSB 18(4):40-41

40 years ago

“Creationism suffered a reversal in Arkansas. Judge Overton, in a landmark decision (Science

19 Feb. 1982), overturned a state law that required creationism be given equal time in the 

schools when evolution was taught. The judge’s decision is not binding in other Federal District 

Courts but it is certain to be heeded widely. For example, the New York State Commissioner of 

Education waited for the decision before declaring that creationism need NOT be given equal 

time in New York schools. The creationist ploy of requesting equal time—'fair play'—'is based 

on the assumption that there is a science of creationism and that, as such, it is the alternative to 

the evolutionary explanation of life on earth. The trial convinced Judge Overton that 'creation 

science' is simply a cover for a religious belief, hence something to be barred constitutionally 

from the schools.”

--Banks, Harlan P. Creationism: A Call to Arms. 1982. PSB 28(5): 34-35.

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By Dr. Catrina Adams

Education Director

Jennifer Hartley,

Education Programs 


PlantingScience Welcomes the 


Master Plant Science Team!

The 2022-2023 school year is underway, 

and we are looking forward to another great 

year with PlantingScience!  We’re especially 

excited to be working with the BSA-sponsored 

members of this year’s Master Plant Science 

Team!  The following early-career scientists 

will be representing BSA in our work with 

6th-12th+ classrooms through the spring 

semester in 2023!

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Israel Borokini 

Yanni Chen

Lyanna DeLeon 

Ana Flores

Nitin Gaikwad

Waqar Hussain
Devani Jolman

Jacqueline Lemmon 

Guadalupe Maldonado Andrade 

Allyssa Richards

Juan Diego Rojas-Gutierrez

Cierra Sullivan

Jessica Szetela

Shan Wong




Our Fall 2022 session began in mid-September. 

This session includes seven middle schools, 

seven high schools, and two undergraduate 

biology classes. This session is smaller than 

previous fall sessions, as we are gearing up 

for our Digging Deeper {F


} research session 

coming up in 2023.  However, all together 

they comprise 118 teams of students that are 

working on plant science themes under the 

guidance of our wonderful scientist mentors!  



} IS 


Recruiting is now underway for the 

PlantingScience Digging Deeper {F


initiative.  This study will replicate the research 

conducted in 2016 and 2017 on the impacts that 

scientist mentors have on student outcomes, 

including their understanding of the concepts 

studied and their perceptions of scientists 

and science careers. That research, which was 

published in the Journal of Research in Science 

Teaching, demonstrated significant positive 

shifts in both areas.  The current initiative will 

repeat the earlier format, but also explore the 

impacts of teacher professional development 

conducted remotely.

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Please consider sharing this opportunity with 

high school teachers in your network.  Selected 

applicants will receive stipends, professional 

development, classroom materials, and 

curriculum resources.  The application link 

can be found on the




Plans are underway for the 8th annual Life 

Discovery Conference, which will take place 

March 22-25, 2023 at Florida A&M University 

in Tallahassee, Florida.  This education-

focused conference is organized as a joint effort 

between the Ecological Society of America, 

the Society for the Study of Evolution, and 

the Botanical Society of America.  Educators 

who teach high school, community college, 

and undergraduate courses in life sciences 

are invited to take advantage of this unique 

opportunity to network with educators at the 

various levels.  This year’s theme is ‘”Variants 

in Biology Education: What can we learn from 

pandemics” Find more info at https://www.

The California Botanists Luncheon, started back in 2008, is an ongoing event at the Botany 

meetings for anyone interested in California plants to get together, mingle, and hear about 

important events in California botany such as projects, funding, and new positions. This year’s 

short presentations included the progress of the California Consortium of Herbaria projects 

(CCH1 &, the state’s allocation of major funding for "biorepository upgrades 

and orphan collections," updates in the Jepson eFlora, and notification of the upcoming 

Southern California Botanists meeting (hosted by After the three-year hiatus, it 

was wonderful to see in person some of our community of California botanists. We hope to 

see many of you next year in Boise! 

California Botanists Meet in Anchorage

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By Ioana Anghel and Eli Hartung

BSA Student Representatives

Botany 2022 Review

It was so great seeing so many of your faces 

again in person at Botany 2022 in Anchorage! 

Students made up 42% of the total conference 

attendees with 534 total students. About a 

quarter of the students were undergraduates, 

and three quarters were graduate students. 

About two thirds of total students attended 

the conference in person. Returning face-

to-face highlighted how important it is to 

have in-person interactions to cultivate our 

botanical network. At the same time, about 

a third of students attended virtually. We 

hope the opportunity to tune in remotely 

helped students stay connected to the 

botanical community this year, even though 

they couldn’t be there in person. The hybrid 

meeting format was challenging, and we 

are working with the BSA Board to make it 

a more integrated piece of the conference in 

future years. 

The Student Reps worked to encourage 

more interactions between students and the 

botanical community at a variety of events. 

Our first event of the week was the Planting 

the Seeds of Science Communication Workshop

on Sunday, where 10 superstars in their 

respective areas of sci-comm shared tips for 

engaging audiences about plants. The next 

day, we held the widely popular Careers in 

Botany Luncheon where students were able 

to connect with 20 panelists. We then helped 

host a very well-attended Student Social at the 

Top of the World Deck of the Hilton where 

we chatted late into the night. We also held 

three in-person CV Review Sessions and a few 

more online for those attending remotely. We 

also had a Student Chapter Meet-up where 

we discussed ideas to connect members with 

other chapters across the country.

For those of you who have not filled out the 

Conference Survey, please visit https://www. to help us 

make the conference a better experience for 

you in the future.

Reach us by email or Twitter: 

Ioana:; @ioana_anghel

Eli:; @hartung_eli



At the Careers in Botany Luncheon, 

we had 20 panelists with careers in 

academia, government, non-governmental 

organizations, consulting companies, 

herbaria, botanical gardens and museums. 

They represented the spectrum of career 

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stages, and they worked in five countries, 

eleven U.S. states, and two territories. A total of 

83 students attended, with approximately half 

graduate students and half undergraduates. 

Below was the flier we used to advertise the 

event, and here is where you can read more 

about the panelists at the Careers in Botany 





Thank you to the 175 of you who attended the 

Student Social! We had a great time getting to 

know each other in the never-ending daylight 

of Anchorage. 


We had three in-person opportunities for 

students to work with botany professionals to 

improve their resume. We also paired remote 

attending students and professionals to do the 

same. We had a total of 18 students and nine 

professionals working together on resumes. 

Thank you so much to Jacob Landis, Jenny 

Xiang, Matthew Rubin, Elizabeth Hunter, 

Suneeti Jog, Angela McDonnell, Sara Handy, 

Brittany Sutherland, and Naomi Fraga for 

helping students with this important career 






Our first sci-comm workshop was a great 

success with 10 panelists and 20 attendees. 

The workshop panelists were a diverse 

group of plant science communicators who 

reach people through various platforms 

including community outreach, museums 

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and botanical gardens, social media, video, 

and writing. First, the panelists spent a few 

minutes introducing themselves and their 

work. Then, we had small group discussions 

on a variety of topics including what it’s like 

to get started in video sci-comm, strategies to 

tell compelling stories in social media posts, 

and how to engage in social media arguments 

about science more productively. We learned 

so much from the panelists, both through 

their engaging presentation content and style, 

and in the super interesting small discussions. 

Read the section “Heard at the Planting the 

Seeds of Science Communication Workshop” 

to learn some tips from our panelists. 



We held our first-ever Student Chapter Meet-

up at the conference this year. The event was 

initiated and organized by Anisa Khalid, a 

motivated undergraduate who is the President 

of her local BSA Student Chapter at University 

of Central Florida. We would love to host this 

at the conference each year. To maintain this 

momentum, the Student Reps are organizing 

a Student Chapter Meet-up as part of the 

Botany360 program (

home/resources/botany360.html). We are 

planning to hold it very soon. Stay tuned on 

the  @Botanical_ Twitter and BSA Student 

Newsletter to hear more details. 


For our conference Networking Board, we 

heard from 11 labs recruiting for more than 18 

positions including master's and PhD student, 

research assistant, post-doc, and technician 

openings in 10 states across the country. 

About half of those recruiting did not attend 

Botany, so be sure to reach out to them using 

the contact information listed on the board!

We also heard from 32 early career researchers 

looking for graduate school positions; post-

docs; and jobs in industry, government, lab, 

or field positions. For those of you recruiting, 

please check out this list!

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Last year, we launched a new committee to 

support students and early career profession-

als through the BSA Early Career Profes-

sional Development Committee. This group 

is working hard to help students and junior 

botanists meet other professionals, find men-

tors, and take advantage of various opportu-

nities. Their GRFP workshop and mentorship 

opportunity is aimed at helping students ap-

plying for the NSF award this year, and it has 

already kicked off earlier in September. 

They also put together an “Applying to 

Graduate School” workshop in September, 

which can be viewed at https://tinyurl.


Learn more about the committee at: https://





We had another great time at this year’s 

Careers in Botany Luncheon. First, thanks 

again to the professionals and students who 

came and helped make this such a great event! 

We got great feedback from professionals and 

students alike from this event and wanted 

to share what we’ve gained. We asked the 

professionals, “What was an important piece 

of advice that you gave at the Careers in 

Botany Luncheon that you think students 

should remember?” We asked the students, 

“What was the most important advice you 

learned at the Careers in Botany Luncheon at 

Botany 2022?” 


“Plants matter! Botany 

is so fundamental to 

life, that you would be 

surprised how diverse a job 

market is out there: from 

Agro-Tech to botanical 

surveying, from academy 

to NGOs; just follow your passion!” 

-Tamir Klein, Weizmann Institute of Science

“It is never too soon to start planning for 

retirement. Even if you don’t yet have a “real 

job,” start a Roth IRA and try to max it out 

every year. You may feel like you have no 

money, but being able to squirrel away in your 

20s, will make you so far ahead of the game in 

your 40s. It goes by quicker than you think!” 

-Ann Erickson, Bureau of Land Management

“Work around your 

priorities. Life is full of 

compromises, but when 

your priorities are clear you 

can better assess what 

sacrifices or risks are worth 

taking. This requires self-

reflection and being honest with yourself. 

Adopt a growth mindset. Knowing how to 

learn is one of the most valuable lessons for a 

person. Things you don’t know become things 

you don’t know yet. Be brave, work hard, and 

show up. Know your plant(s)! Whether it is a 

molecular mechanism or an ecological process 

you’re investigating, learn about the biology of 

the organism you’re studying. Be interested in 

other levels of organization: molecular-

organismal-ecological-evolutionary. Does it 

make biological sense? Also, learn about the 

plants that surround you and get interested in 

your local flora. At some point this will be very 

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useful. Not all advice is good advice for everyone, 

so take what resonates with you. What works for 

me doesn’t necessarily work for others.”

-Amelia Merced

“Network, network, network. 

You never know who might 

change your life or introduce 

you to a partner that will be 

critical for future success. 

Meet as many people in 

your field as possible. A close 

second is to always say 'yes' to an opportunity.”

-Wesley Knapp, NatureServe

“Clearly communicating 

your expectations and 

limitations is key to avoiding 

m i s u n d e r s t a n d i n g s 

with your colleagues 

and maintaining a good 

network of collaborations.” 

-Andrés J. Cortés, Colombian Agricultural 

Research Corporation


“You can tailor a job to fit your interests.”

“We all can learn from people at different 

career stages (younger or older).”






We had a great turnout for the Planting the 

Seeds of Science Communication workshop. 

We asked those who attended what sci-comm 

advice they gained (or gave) at the workshop 

would be valuable and impactful to the 

broader botanical and scientific community:

“Be your authentic and 

true self. All your plant 

(science, cat, etc.) love 

will shine through!

It is ok to take 

social media breaks. 

Be mindful of what you are saying.”

-Tanisha Williams, Bucknell University

“The world will be a better 

place with more science 

communicators. The 

barrier to entry is low, and 

there are never too many.” 

-Jacob Suissa, Cornell 


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PSB 68 (3) 2022



As we continue in our careers, we hope to see the academic culture shift to be healthier and 

more inclusive. Below are a few papers the BSA community recommends reading if you hope to 

lead. We hope to continue to recommend “

Papers to Read for Future Leaders” to BSA Student 

members. If you have papers you would like us to include, please share it with us via this Google 


• Allen, K., J. Reardon, Y. Lu, D. V. Smith, E. Rainsford, and L. Walsh. 2022. Towards im-

proving peer review: Crowd-sourced insights from Twitter. Journal of University Teach-

ing & Learning Practice 19(3).

• Gin, L. E., N. J. Wiesenthal, I. Ferreira, and K. M. Cooper. 2021. PhDepression: Examin-

ing how graduate research and teaching affect depression in life sciences PhD students. 

CBE—Life Sciences Education 20(3).

• Herz, N., O. Dan, N. Censor, and Y. Bar-Haim. 2020. Opinion: Authors overestimate 

their contribution to scientific work, demonstrating a strong bias. Proceedings of the 

National Academy of Sciences 117: 6282–6285.

• Ramírez-Castañeda, V., E. P. Westeen, J. Frederick, S. Amini, D. R. Wait, A. S. Achmadi, 

N. Andayana, et al. 2022. A set of principles and practical suggestions for equitable 

fieldwork in biology. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 119(34). https://

• Tilghman, S., B. Alberts, D. Colón-Ramos, K. Dzirasa, J. Kimble, and H. Varmus. 2021. 

Concrete steps to diversify the scientific workforce. Science 372: 133–135.

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Dr. Jonathan Giddens passed away 

unexpectedly on November 12, 2021, at age 

35. Jon was a lifelong Oklahoman, growing 

up in Jenks, OK before completing his 

undergraduate and graduate degrees at the 

University of Oklahoma (OU). 

At OU, Jon pursued his interests in plants and 

environment, first earning an undergraduate 

degree in Interdisciplinary Perspectives of the 

Environment in 2008. Then, in 2014 he earned 

his Master’s in Plant Biology, working with Dr. 

Wayne Elisens on morphological variation 

in the Iva Annua Complex (Asteraceae: 

Heliantheae). It was during this time that I 

first got to know Jon, initially as a committee 

member, and then as his major advisor for 

his PhD work. Over the course of his PhD, 

he developed a series of research projects 

focused on water use and drought tolerance 

in eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana). 

He was especially drawn to studying plant 

hydraulics and how hydraulic traits might 

help explain why this species is so successful 

in encroaching into Oklahoma grasslands. Jon 

defended his Plant Biology PhD in May 2021, 

and we were still working on transitioning 

his dissertation chapters into manuscripts for 

journal submission.

Although Jon was early in his career, he had 

already impacted so many people with his love 

for plant biology. He was a teaching assistant 

for multiple plant courses at OU, including 

Introduction to Plant Biology, where his 

enthusiasm motivated many students to give 

plants a second look. He even converted some 

of them to Plant Biology majors! He received 

multiple university level teaching awards 

based on evaluations from the students he 


Finally, Jon was well known within BSA. He 

was very actively involved, serving in multiple 

roles in the student section, including as 

Student Representative to the Executive 

Committee from 2013 to 2015. He was always 

a friendly and enthusiastic presence.

I deeply regret that we will never be able to 

know what Jon would have done next in his life 

and career. But it is clear that he had already 

impacted so many and will remain with them.

-Heather McCarthy, Associate Professor of 

Plant Biology, University of Oklahoma

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PSB 68 (3) 2022


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• A Field Guide to the Plants of Armenia

• The Hidden Beauty of Seeds & Fruits: The Botanical photography of Levon Biss

• Kaplan’s Principles of Plant Morphology

• Orchid Species from Himalaya and South East Asia Vol 2 (G-P), Vol 3 (R-Z).

• The Western Woodlands of Ethiopia: A Study of the Woody Vegetation and Flora 

Between the Ethiopian Highlands and the Lowlands of the Nile Valley in the 

      Sudan and South Sudan


A Field Guide to the 

Plants of Armenia

Tamar Galstyan


ISBN: 978-1-9997345-8-9 

£25 (Paperback); 592 pp. 

Filbert Press, UK

The Republic of Armenia 

is a landlocked country in the southern 

Caucasus, situated northeast in the Armenian 

Highland, with a mixture of lava plateaus, 

volcanic cones, fault-fold ranges, and Lake 

Sevan in a tectonic depression. Armenia has 

a highland continental, dry climate, with cold 

winters and warm summers. Temperatures 

depend upon elevation. Average midwinter 

temperature is 0ºC; midsummer temperature 

exceeds 25ºC. Average precipitation ranges 

from 250 mm per year in the lower Araxes 

River Valley, to 800 mm at the highest altitudes, 

with heaviest rainfall in the mountains. Its 

specialized habitats support a multiplicity of 

species in breathtaking landscapes.
Plants of Armenia is the first English-language 

guide to Armenia’s diverse flora, including 

more than 1000 species. Arrangement is 

alphabetical by family; monocots separated 

from dicots with colored margin tabs. The 

guide holds 1900 color photographs, each 

identified by its Latin binomial, name in 

Armenian, short diagnostic description, 

flowering time, and elevation range. Nearly 

1800 range maps show geographic distribution; 

where applicable, they indicate critical or 

endangered/vulnerable status (red dot) and 

endemism (green). The plates are clear, and 

the guide is well bound for frequent use, with 

rounded corners for safety; the coated cover 

provides protection from moisture and soil, 

and its compact 21 × 14.5 cm size fits in a 

The introductory pages briefly describe 

Armenia’s biogeography, climate, 

geomorphology, and native vegetation. A 

glossary of botanical terms and species index 

close the book. “Field guides are a way for 

people to connect with the environment by 

putting a specific face on the term biodiversity 

(Stevenson et al., 2001: 15-16). The economics 

of traditional publishing dictate that paper 

field guides must have commercial viability, 

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so they tend to focus on popular geographic 

areas.” In this instance, the book relies 

on residents, tourists, and the Armenian 

diaspora, satisfying pride and longing for our 

ancestral homeland. 
Personally, I am smitten with the extraordinary 

Oncocyclus section Iris; the guide’s cover 

shows Iris iberica subsp. elegantissima (Sosn.) 

Fed. & Takht., with “flowers up to 10cm in 

diameter, the stems usually 20-30cm height. 

The falls reflex very sharply so that the blade 

lies almost vertically” (Mathew, 1989: 52). I 

had an opportunity to observe these beauties 

in abundance on the rocky high plateaus 

surrounding Erzurum, Kars, and Lake Van, 

in early May 1997. “By May or June, the 

rhizomes are getting a consistent baking every 

day, continuing for several months” (Mathew, 

1972: 130); these alpine growth conditions are 

difficult to replicate in temperate areas.
Markarian (2004: 43) recounts details about 

Dr. Giovanni Franceso Gemelli Careri’s visit 

to Armenia on May 26, 1694. Mr. Careri 

described a unique flower in the Talin area in 

Armenia: “In those villages I saw a vague and a 

strange flower, that every Italian prince would 

definitely pay much to have in his garden. 

The stalk is no more than a half palm high, 

on top of which are three white flowers that 

are straight, and three others, that fall into the 

form of a triangle of purple color with a tiny 

black rose in the middle, and other three of 

lighter color entangled in the same flower.”
By   coincidence,  Srpazan [Archbishop Ashjian] 

had read this account on May 25, last year. 

Immediately he decided to go to the village of 

Talin to find the flower, taking photographers 

with him. “We visited the Armeno-Turkish 

frontier, prayed in the Haygavank Church, 

admired the monastery of Horomos, and 

finally reached Talin. We started our search 

with some shepherds. No hope. We inquired 

whether there was a knowledgeable woman 

in those parts who might have some special 

love towards flowers. We found one. She was 

the wife of the principal of the school, Mrs. 

Rima Hakobian, who told us of a lady in town 

who a couple weeks ago brought some flowers 

from the fields ‘like the one you described.’ 

We rushed to see Mrs. Siranoush Gevorgian 

and her collection of wildflowers. We were 

late; they had wilted. But we kept insisting, 

so the lady told us to go to St. Christopher’s 

Cemetery, suggesting that we might find it 

there. We rushed and, lo and behold, several 

flowers of the type described were there 

smiling at us, like little urchins, teasing us, and 

how happy we were to finally get to them. We 

kissed the flowers, made a bouquet of them, 

then prayed for the man from whose tomb 

we had picked them. The name of that man? 

Ardoush, son of Sedrak Grigorian, 1924-1976. 

‘Sorry Ardoush, instead of bringing flowers to 

your grave, we just stole what nature had given 

to you. Forgive us.’ Later Archbishop Ashjian 

learned the scientific name for this flower, Iris 

Galstyan’s travels to see plants in their natural 

habitats led to a Facebook page, “Plants of 

Armenia," a career as a guide for botanical 

tours in Armenia, and the creation of a travel 

company, SkyGreen. We owe gratitude to 

the author and those photographers and 

enthusiasts she consulted for contributing to 

this splendid volume. We also acknowledge 

the “largely unsung toils of taxonomists and 

field biologists who provided the very basic 

knowledge that is required for field guides to 

exist” (Holt, 2016: S94). 
Although Plants of Armenia was written for a 

general audience, it ranks as an authoritative 

reference for species identification, often 

providing two views to show variable 

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PSB 68 (3) 2022


morphology, which should also interest 

professional botanists. Highly recommended 

for its illustrations, range maps, and layout, 

it could also prove informative for use in 

surrounding regions. 


Holt, R. D. 2016. Geographical variation in the avail-

ability of natural history field guides? Personal reflec-

tions, causes, and consequences. The American Natu-

ralist 188: S90-S95.
Markarian, H. 2004. Etchmiadzin Chronicles. Out-

reach 26: 37-43.
Mathew, B. 1972. Plant Portraits. Iris elegantissima. 

Bulletin of the Alpine Garden Society 40: 130-131.
Mathew, B. 1989. The Iris. B.T. Batsford Ltd., London. 
Stevenson, R. D., W. A. Haber, and R. A. Morris. 2001. 

Standing on the shoulders of taxonomists: Electronic 

field guides and user communities in the ecoinformat-

ics revolution. Website:



–Dorothea Bedigian, Research Associate, Mis-

souri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri, USA

The Hidden Beauty of 

Seeds & Fruits: The 

Botanical Photogra-

phy of Levon Biss

Levon Biss


ISBN: 9781419752155 

Hardcover, $40.00; 144 pp. 

Abrams Books, NY

An herbarium’s carpological collection 

contains plant parts that are too chunky to be 

pressed on an herbarium sheet: seeds, bark, 

gum, fruits (e.g., cones), and leaves. Many of 

these cross reference with herbarium sheets 

and help to enrich the preserved collection. 

Taxonomists have made use of carpological 

collections to correct identifications, e.g., 

Farjon (1995) lectotypified a Mexican pine 

with an ovuliferous cone found among 

carpological material in the herbarium at 

Vienna (W).
Levon Biss is an award-winning British 

photographer, widely praised for producing 

peerless images with a macro lens of his 

generation. Biss polished his skills when 

compiling photographs for Microsculpture 

(2017), a unique photographic study of insects 

in exceptional magnification. Applying his 

skills as a professional photographer, his 

artist’s eye, his background in graphic design, 

and eagerness to tackle technical challenges, 

Biss devised a customized technique for 

macrophotography, using instruments he 

designed, shooting numerous “stacked” 

photos to maintain sharp focus throughout, 

and subsequently compiling the segments into 

magnificent prints. The resulting photographs 

possess considerable depth, revealing every 

minute detail. Biss explains that in mounting 

a camera onto a microscope, one obtains only 

a very shallow depth of field. Consequently, 

he creates a composite view by combining 

many photographs, then flattens them down 

to produce one single high-resolution file. 

Hence each final photograph might be the 

combination of 8000 to 10,000 individual 

Microsculpture led to international exhibitions 

that ensued from it that displayed large format 

photographs across Europe, the Middle East, 

South America, and the USA, with solo shows 

in 22 countries. Later his acclaim opened 

exceptional access to treasured historical 

museum collections, entrée normally granted 

only to research scholars whose credentials 

warrant admission to these vaults holding 

scientific specimens, and viewed by the lay 

public as mere cabinets of curiosities. 

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PSB 68 (3) 2022


Biss was welcomed to work with the 

carpological collection at the renowned Royal 

Botanic Garden Edinburgh herbarium. Over 

a period of 6 months, he inspected many 

thousands of specimens. Ultimately, Biss 

selected 100 fruits and seeds to photograph 

for the project. The final images display seeds 

and fruits from around the world in exquisite 

detail, enabling the viewer to appreciate 

their intricate textures and their anatomy, 

which offers potentials for environmental 

adaptations. For the viewer, Biss’ stylish 

photographs generate admiration for the 

beauty of the hidden natural world. If one 

accepts the premise that there is nothing more 

transformative than the healing forces of the 

visual and musical arts, in this meeting where 

art meets science in the botanical photography 

of Biss can be found emotional as well as 

educational support and ample examples to 

inspire appreciation of nature’s biodiversity, 

so urgently in need of protection.


Biss L. 2017. Microsculpture: Portraits of Insects. 

Abrams Books, NY.
Farjon A. 1995. Typification of Pinus apulcensis Lindley 

(Pinaceae), a misinterpreted name for a Latin Ameri-

can pine. Novon 5: 252-256.

–Dorothea Bedigian, Research Associate, Mis-

souri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri, 


Kaplan’s Principles of 

Plant Morphology

Donald R. Kaplan.  Edited 

and compiled by Chelsea 

D. Specht.  

2022.  ISBN 

9781482245196 (hard-

back), 9780367655419 (pa-

perback), 9781315118642 


1317 pp; US$300.00. 

CRC Press, Taylor & Francis 

Group, LLC, Boca Raton, FL

To paraphrase Dennis Stevenson’s summary 

of Chapter 23, on Angiosperm Inflorescence 

Morphology: “There is an extensive amount 

of literature on morphology published in 

German.  This book is an excellent synopsis 

of that work.”  It is true that Don Kaplan 

was a master of the German morphologists, 

from Hoffmeister through von Goebel, on to 

Troll and finally Hagemann, and their ideas 

and illustrations form a solid foundation for 

Kaplan to build upon.  But besides simply 

compiling, organizing, and interpreting this 

massive German literature, he extends their 

work using his own prolific research and that 

of his many students.  
Kaplan's goals are simple: “1) to teach the reader 

how to analyze the basic structural features of 

plants that are altered to produce the major 

variations in plant form and 2) to determine 

the significance of the morphological variants 

in the environments in which the plants grow.”  

And Kaplan is an excellent teacher (a recipient 

of the BSA’s Charles Edwin Bessey Teaching 

Award) who realized that the only way for 

students to develop a deep understanding of 

a concept is to be presented with a variety of 

perspectives and challenges, in a variety of 

situations, and to be led to the most logical 

conclusion. This is the goal of the book.  

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PSB 68 (3) 2022


Kaplan begins with the concept of homology 

in Chapter 1, where he introduces the 

three criteria that will be used to analyze 

morphological structure throughout the 

text.  The first is position within the body of 

the plant. Second are any special criteria or 

distinctive characteristics of the structure 

in question, and third is the existence of 

intermediates between distinctive structures.  

He then demonstrates how to apply these 

criteria using familiar flowering plants.  In 

Chapter 2, he views these concepts from the 

perspective of the entire plant kingdom (sensu 

lato) and then ties them to internal anatomy 

and development in the next four chapters.  
Kaplan’s is not the traditional American 

approach to plant morphology, which focuses 

on evolutionary relationships and adaptive 

trends.  Rather, the constraints are the 

morphological principles themselves as they 

influence ontogeny.  Chapter 3, describing 

the relationship between morphology and 

anatomy, provides an opportunity for Kaplan 

to question the traditional maxim that the cell 

is the “building block of the organism” and 

morphology is the result of how the blocks 

are put together.  Kaplan’s morphological 

approach begins analysis at the whole plant 

level and brings it down to the cell.  He presents 

his alternative “organismal theory,” which 

argues that cells “fill in” the morphological 

form determined by the organism (Kaplan 

and Hagemann, 1991).  Clear examples of 

morphology’s primacy are the complex forms 

of coenocytic algae, with multiple nuclei but 

no cellular compartmentalization, which I 

continue to find intriguing.  
The next 12 chapters address specific aspects 

of organogenesis, or the development and 

variability of major organ systems of the plant.  

Because of Kaplan’s step-by-step approach 

in applying the morphological principles, 

documented with detailed illustrations, 

this third of the book is a treasure trove of 

examples illustrating virtually every variation 

of vegetative plant structure you can think of 

(and probably many you weren’t aware of).  

In more than one instance, Kaplan delights 

in teaching you that there can be more than 

one way to achieve what appears to be a very 

similar structure and only careful study will 

permit a determination.  And again, like a 

good teacher, Kaplan will frequently end a 

section with a comment like: “However, to 

date there have been no developmental studies 

made to see if…”, as a way of pointing out 

future projects the reader may be interested in 

The second half of the book (six chapters) 

deals almost exclusively with reproductive 

structures, mostly pteridophytes (192 

pp.) and gymnosperms (290 pp.).  Floral 

shoots, floral organs, and inflorescences 

are covered in three separate chapters 

totaling 148 pages.  Throughout these 

reproduction chapters, Kaplan regularly 

reminds the reader of the morphological 

and developmental convergence between 

vegetative and reproductive phases of growth, 

always following the common morphological 

principles.  A final short chapter covers the 

In addition to the thorough descriptions of 

form and its development, the book is filled 

with little bits of information I either had 

forgotten about or never knew.  For instance, 

why is it that many conifer pollen grains 

develop their “wings?”  The traditional, and 

“obvious,” explanation is to facilitate wind-

borne pollination.  No, they are “water wings!”  

While Gifford and Foster (1989) mention this 

in a paragraph in the third edition of their text, 

who remembers?  Kaplan understood that you 

need deep explanations to overcome common 

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PSB 68 (3) 2022


misconceptions.  He spends 10 pages and 7 

figures, mostly from the publications of Joseph 

Doyle, examining the correlations between 

variations in megagametophyte structure 

and presentation (at the time of pollination), 

with presence and size of “air bladders” on 

the microgametophyes (pollen grains) in a 

range of gymnosperm genera.  If the ovules 

are inverted with the micropyle pointed 

down, the pollination drop is exuded at the 

bottom and the pollen grains have buoyant 

sacci so they float up to the nucellus within 

the ovule.  If the ovules are orthotropous, with 

a pollination drop on top, the grains lack sacci 

and sink down to the nucellus.  And who even 

knew about the prodigious output of Joseph 

Doyle, “one of the most notable students of 

Gymnosperm structure and evolution in this 

century”?  Kaplan notes that because Doyle 

published mostly in a local Irish journal, “his 

reputation suffered” [p. 974].
So how does this compendium compare with 

the original four-volume “Odin Readers” 

Kaplan (1998) published for students in 

his later classes?  First, the equivalent of a 

fifth volume was added.  The original series 

ended with what is now Chapter 19.  Kaplan 

had drafts of the next four chapters, which 

Specht edited and compiled along with 

files from the mostly finished final chapter 

(Specht, personal communication).  Almost 

nothing is missing from the original (except 

for his section on classification, which, as 

noted in a footnote, continues to change 

with ongoing phylogenetic work).  Second, 

each new chapter begins with a paginated 

outline of topics (a useful device to scan for 

your interests), and third, figures are inserted 

into the text rather than compiled at the end 

of a chapter.  Changes in nomenclature have 

been made, as necessary, throughout the text, 

and several, but not all, of his original hand-

drawn illustrations have been professionally 

re-done.  Line drawings are crisp, as are most 

photo images.  However, if they were poor 

quality in the originals, there is only so much 

enhancement you can do.  Especially on some 

whole specimen and habitat shots, I would 

have preferred to see new, sharper, images 

presented.   Some, but not all, of the chapters 

have a summary or update section bringing 

new information to bear on the topics covered. 

Most useful were: Michael Christianson’s 

contribution to seedling development in 

Chapter 6; Rolf Rutishauser’s observations and 

updates on phyllotaxy in Chapter 7; Jennifer 

Richards’ commentary on specialized shoot 

branches in Chapter 13; Julie Kang and Nancy 

Dengler’s review of molecular controls on leaf 

symmetry in Chapter 15; Alejandra Vasco 

and Barbara Ambrose’s reviews and edits 

of the pteridophytes in Chapter 19; Dennis 

Wm. Stevenson’s summary of inflorescence 

morphology in Chapter 23; and James Seago’s 

contributions to the final chapter on roots.  
Unfortunately, there is not much of a market 

for an advanced plant morphology textbook 

these days.  But, there is a huge need for 

plant geneticists and breeders, developmental 

botanists and physiologists, and plant 

ecologists and evolutionary biologists to be 

able to understand the foundations of plant 

morphology relevant to their specific research 

interests (Minelli, 2018).  At the very least, 

there should be a copy of Kaplan’s Principles of 

Plant Morphology in every library supporting 

plant researchers. 
Finally, in answer to Stevenson’s challenge 

about a controversy between “the Trollians 

(including Don Kaplan)” and Laurie Johnson 

at the 14


 International Botanical Congress in 

Berlin (1987): “Guess who prevailed!”  It was 

not Kaplan.

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Gifford, E. M. and A. S. Foster. 1989.  Morphology and 

evolution of vascular plants, 3rd ed. New York. W.H. 

Freeman and Company.
Kaplan, D. R. 1998. Plant Biology 107. Principles of 

plant morphology, Volumes 1-4.  Berkeley, CA. Odin 

Kaplan, D. R., and W. Hagemann. 1991.  The relation-

ship of cell and organism in vascular plants.  BioSci-

ence 41: 693-703.
Minelli, A.  2018.  Plant evolutionary biology.  The 

Evolvability of the phenotype. New York. Cambridge 

University Press.

-Marshall D. Sundberg, Roe R Cross Professor of 

Biology, Emporia State University, Emporia, KS. 

Orchid Species from Himalaya and South 

East Asia Vol 2 (G-P), Vol 3 (R-Z).

Eng Soon Teoh

Vol. 2 (G-P)

2021, ISBN 978-3-

030-80427-5, ISBN 



Hard cover, $179.99; 

ebook, $169.00; MyCopy, 

a Springer service which 

allows library patrons of 

institutions with subscrip-

tions to SpringerLink, to 

order a personal, print-on-demand soft cover edi-

tion of an eBook for $39.99  364 pp.

Vol. 3 (R-Z)

2022, ISBN 978-3-

030-97629-3, ISBN 



Hard cover, $179.99; 

ebook, $169.00; My copy, 


Three volume set, $499.99.

181 pp.; Springer Nature 

Switzerland AG, Geweber-

strasse 11, 6330, Chem, Switzerland.

(Full disclosure: Dr. Teoh and I have been 

friends since 1974.) 
This three-volume monumental work—I 

reviewed volume 1 previously (Arditti, 

2021)—describes and illustrates a total of 

118 genera, 879 species, and approximately 

232 hybrids. Not included in the 879 species 

number are color variations and cultivated 

varieties of species. Whenever possible, species 

are shown in their natural habitats. Some were 

photographed in botanical gardens, private 

collections, commercial establishments, and 

a variety of sites. Altogether there are 1304 

illustrations of species and 255 images of 

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hybrids. The total number of illustrations is 

a staggering 1559. Of the species included in 

the three volumes, sixteen in seven genera 

were first described in the 21st century and 

may not be well known. 
I am amazed by the large number of 

photographs Dr. Teoh has included in this 

book because not all of the illustrated species 

are in cultivation (or are cultivated rarely). 

In addition to photographing many species 

in Singapore, Dr. Teoh photographed a large 

number in other countries (and many locales 

in each country), to which he traveled for the 

sole purpose of  photographing orchids. Some 

photographs, all properly acknowledged, are 

by others. 
In addition to photographs, paintings from 

classic old orchid books are included. A few 

of these books are available in Singapore, but 

not many. A fair number of these illustrations 

can be found online and downloaded, but the 

resolution is too low for quality publication. 

Collecting and accumulating these 

illustrations in proper format and resolution 

was not easy. Having searched for illustrations 

myself, I know how difficult this can be.
In text quality, organization, format, style of 

writing, and other details, these two volumes 

are as excellent as the first volume. Having 

already dealt with that volume (Arditti, 2021), 

I will not repeat my statements here for the 

sake of brevity. Suffice to say that volumes 2 

and 3 describe and illustrate 388 species and 

many of their variants (I did not count them) 

plus approximately 177 hybrids clearly, well, 

and in great detail. Like volume 1, volumes 

2 and 3 are a pleasure to read and look at. 

Together these three volumes describe a very 

large number of orchids and should satisfy 

the curiosity and/or needs of many orchid 

aficionados and plant scientists in general. 

In the words of the author himself, “This work 

is not a comprehensive flora of the region. 

No single sane person should try to write a 

comprehensive illustrated flora of the region, 

there being, I am told 1256 species in India, 

4000 species in Indonesia . . .” And 3000 

species in Malaysia, 900 in the Philippines, 

1300 in Thailand, 1040 in Myanmar, and  

many more in other countries of the region. 

New species are being described almost 

daily. Many species are found in more than 

one country, and orchid taxonomists never 

cease to add and delete (or maybe “add” and 

“delete”) species by splitting and combining 

taxa (and always arguing about it). Therefore, 

to accurately determine the number of species 

“from Himalaya and Southeast Asia” is indeed 

a task, which can drive a “single sane person” 

to insanity.
Comprehensive orchid floras of countries or 

even parts thereof, regions, or continents, and/

or encyclopedias of the family are notoriously 

difficult (or close to impossible) to write. Many 

ambitious such books, single or multi volume 

(the latest is six volumes), by one or more 

well- or lesser-known authors, which languish 

in my library and collect dust on its attest to 

this. Therefore, Dr. Teoh was wise to present 

only a judicious and impressive selection of 

the myriad orchid species, which are found 

from the Himalayas to Southeast Asia.
Some of these species deserve special mention 

for a variety of reasons:

• Grammatophyllum scriptum was given 

its specific epithet because the mark-

ings on its sepals and petals were 

thought to resemble Hebrew letters. 

It was first described by the “blind 

seer of Ambon,” Georgius Everhardus 

Rumphius (1627, Wölfersheim, Ger-

many – 1702, Ambon, Indonesia) who 

drew it on a coconut tree.

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• Grammatophyllum speciosum plants 

may well produce the largest of all or-

chid plants. They can weigh as much 

as 2000 kg. A plant I saw on a tree in 

the Bogor Botanical Gardens in Indo-

nesia many years ago was that large or 

perhaps larger. 

• Several orchids in the region, known 

as Jewel Orchids—as for example, 

Ludisia and Macodes—have beautiful 

foliage that is shown very well in Dr. 

Teoh’s photographs. They are cultivat-

ed for their foliage. Their flowers are 

not impressive.

• Paphiopedilum henryanum was named 

by a combative and controversial pri-

vate taxonomist (i.e., one not associ-

ated with a scientific institution) for a 

convicted orchid poacher and smug-

gler, probably to spite established or-

chid scientists with whom both the 

“namer” and “namee” did not get 

along. Unusual and eccentric individ-

uals are common in the orchid world.

• Papilionanthe Miss Joaquim, the Sin-

gapore National flower as Vanda Miss 

Joaquim, is a natural hybrid, a single 

plant, which was discovered in 1893 

by Miss Agnes Joaquim (1854-1899), 

an avid gardener who is not known 

to have grown orchids, in a clump of 

bamboo in her garden. Henry Ridley 

(1855-1956), then director of the Sin-

gapore Botanic Gardens, named it in 

her honor.  According to an urban leg-

end, Agnes Joaquim herself took the 

orchid to Henry Ridley. This is proba-

bly not true. The herbarium specimen 

has a date and a note in Ridley’s own 

hand indicating that he received the 

plant from her brother, Joe Joaquim 

(ca. 1850-1899), a lawyer who grew 

orchids. About 20 years ago, a non-

orchid expert with a personal agenda 

suggested that Miss Joaquim actually 

bred the orchid. There is not a shred 

of evidence to support this suggestion 

(Arditti, 2022), but it created a contro-

versy that still continues (Arditti and 

Hew, 2007).  As a co-author of a book 

about Vanda Miss Joaquim (Hew et al., 

2002), I am in the middle of it.

• Spathoglottis Primrose (Spathoglottis 

aurea × Spathoglottis plicata) is the 

very first human-made orchid hybrid 

produced in Singapore in 1932 by R. 

E. Holttum (1895-1990), then Direc-

tor of the Singapore Botanic Gardens. 

Holttum produced the hybrid only 

after he learned how to use Knud-

son’s asymbiotic method of seed ger-

mination (solution B) from the Ger-

man mycorrhiza expert Hans Burgeff 

(1883-1976), who visited Singapore 

on his way to the Bogor Botanical 

Gardens in Indonesia.

• Taeniophyllum is a leafless epiphytic 

orchid. Its fleshy roots are green and 

probably fix carbon via CAM. I saw 

many plants on trees in the Bogor Bo-

tanical Garden. Sometimes they are 

hard to see.

These books are not free of problems. An 

error by the author is the use of “pod” in the 

Spathoglottis section to describe orchid fruits, 

which are capsules. All other problems are 

due to inattention to detail, sloppy (if any) 

editing, careless production, and low editorial 

standards—all of which I encountered in some 

of my books that were published by Springer-


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• Volume 1 has lists of references for 

every genus and a general list of ref-

erences. There is only a general list of 

references in volume 2. Like volume 

1, volume 3 has a list of references for 

every genus and a general list of ref-

erences. A careful publisher would 

have insisted that a major three-vol-

ume work like this should have only 

a single list of references (or literature 

cited) for all volumes in volume 3.

• There are indexes of species and hy-

brids (in this order) in volume 1, but 

no index of countries.  The order of in-

dexes in volume 2 is hybrids, species, 

countries. In volume 3 the order is 

species, countries, hybrids. A publish-

er who pays attention to detail and has 

high editorial standards would have 

insisted on the same three indexes in 

all volumes, all in identical order. Bet-

ter yet, the indexes should have been 

combined (one each for species, hy-

brids, and countries) in volume 3.

• There is no general index. A non-

sloppy publisher would have insisted 

on, or provided, a general index for 

an interesting and complex work like 

this, which contains a great wealth of 

information. The lack of such an index 

renders difficult the use of this terrific 

book. An excellent publisher like John 

Wiley and Sons (my favorite) did that 

for several one-, two-, or three-vol-

ume books of mine. In multi-volume 

books, Wiley moved all indexes and a 

sole list of reference to the last volume. 

In book reviews it is often stated at the end 

that whatever faults or problems a book has 

do not detract from its value. I would like to 

end by stating that the value Dr. Teoh’s truly 

excellent book was reduced by the mediocre, 

even low, publication standards of Springer.


Arditti, J. 2021. Orchid species from Himalaya and 

South East Asia. Vol. 1 (A-E). Plant Science Bulletin 

67: 137-139.
Arditti, J. 2021. Papilionanthe Miss Joaquim.  How 

did it originate? Orchids 90: 926-930. 
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, 261-309. The New York Botanical Garden 

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

of Vanda Miss Joaquim. National University of Singa-

pore Press, Singapore.

– Joseph Arditti, Professor Emeritus, Univer-

sity of California, Irvine.

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PSB 68 (3) 2022


The Western 

Woodlands of 

Ethiopia: A Study 

of the Woody Veg-

etation and Flora 

Between the Ethio-

pian Highlands and 

the Lowlands of the 

Nile Valley in the 

Sudan and South 


Scientia Danica. Series B, Biologica, vol. 9

Ib Friis, Paulo van Breugel, Odile Weber, and Sebsebe 


2022. ISBN: 978-87-7304-440-7 

Hardcover, 386,00 kr; (~$40); 521 pp. 

Det Kongelige Danske Videnskabernes Selskab.

Plant biodiversity is deeply endangered, yet 

we have not identified many species that 

exist on our planet. There is much that we do 

not know about how such unknown species 

contribute to the ecosystem. We are at risk 

of losing vital taxa before they have been 

named. This is particularly true for forests, 

which hold immense biodiversity. Major new 

threats to biodiversity and individual species 

include habitat degradation, climate change, 

over-exploitation, increased pollution, 

mining, unsustainable logging (e.g., roads and 

infrastructure) and oil exploration—all direct 

results of human activities. Such destruction 

also exacerbates climate change, since the 

woodland forests retain a large proportion of 

the world’s carbon that would otherwise be in 

the atmosphere. By reshaping the biodiversity 

in an area, humans are restructuring the 

whole ecosystem and making it less resilient 

to natural disasters. 
Realizing that the western woodlands of 

Ethiopia had been less studied than the 

highlands, a collaboration in field and 

herbarium studies was initiated in 1980 

between the Ethiopian government and 

the University of Copenhagen to increase 

information about those still largely intact 

western woodlands. That led to establishment 

of the Ethiopian Flora project, funded by 

SAREC (Swedish Agency for Research 

Cooperation with Developing Countries).
The Western Woodlands of Ethiopia represents 

the pinnacle of four decades of collaboration 

between Friis, Demmisew, van Breugel, 

Weber, and numerous other collaborators. It 

follows up their previous 10-volume floristic 

characterization (Friis et al., 2010). This opus 

magnus, weighing nearly 9 pounds (with its 

contents matching its heft), holds a treasure 

trove of topics, including botany, geology, 

history, phytogeography, and soils. The 

volume is dense with data. 
Data collection was done using a technique 

termed relevé, an initial concept that was 

developed by Swiss ecologist Jacques Braun-

Blanquet during the mid-20th century. Relevé

is useful to classify species diversity of plant 

cover in large areas. Specifically, % Cover 

Concept: Individual species (taxon) is said 

to have 10% cover if it covers 10% of the 

area of a relevé. In field data collection, each 

taxon (species) is rated with a cover class of 

1–5, with 1 being 75%–100% to 5 (1%–5%). 

Sociability Concept: Class 1—Species occurs 

in large, nearly pure stand; Class 2—Species 

occurs in large aggregates or carpets; Class 3—

Species occurs in small aggregates or clusters; 

Class 4—Species occurs in isolated clumps 

or bunches; Class 5—Single occurrence of 

species in relevé.
The authors used their data for clustering 

and principal component analyses to study 

continuity and discontinuity of the vegetation 

and the drivers of variation. They found 

that their clusters relate to variables such as 

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latitude, altitude, climate, and soil types, while 

slope, fire frequency, and other parameters 

were less important.
The decade-long controversy involving the 

Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) 

is central to the results reported in this 

monograph. Ethiopia’s western highlands hold 

important tributaries to the Nile, particularly 

through the Blue Nile, but also through 10 

or more other rivers running to the Nile. 

The new Ethiopian GERD reservoir will 

encompass substantial areas investigated here. 

The authors warn (p. 398) that “much of the 

area with relatively high species-richness, will 

be flooded by the reservoir behind the GERD 

dam if the project develops as planned.”
The reference work concludes with seven 

appendices documenting the authors’ 

findings. Particularly useful are the complete 

records of field observations and species 

lists in Appendix 1, distribution of taxa 

on geographical areas in Appendix 4, and 

ecological adaptations of species in Appendix 

5. The book closes with a valuable 15-page 

List of References, containing some venerable 

rare titles including Poncet (1709)—a source 

that I found useful when preparing literature 

reviews about the desert regions of Kenya and 

Sudan—and an indispensable 8-page index to 

plant names. The stature of the authors and 

their long devotion to this project provides 

reliably precise data and computations that 

will inform future Ethiopian students to 

recognize the ecological and environmental 

uniqueness of their western woodlands, 

hopefully leading to further support for its 

preservation. The mapping and analyses 

are made with prevailing, tested techniques 

(including DIVA-GIS, ArcMap, Q-GIS, 

UPGMA, various ordination methods) and 

careful attention to detail. This subject is 

unquestionably significant, and I would expect 

that this monograph will become adopted 

as the standard reference for specialists, 

and may serve as a model for other regional 

Paper quality is an essential consideration for 

a book such as this, to retain permanently 

each plant photograph and colorful map. 

Printed in Denmark by Narayana Press on 

sturdy paper stock, this robust hardcover copy 

should withstand long-term handling well.


Friis, I., S. Demissew, and P. van Breugel. 2010. Atlas of 

the potential vegetation of Ethiopia. Royal Danish Acad-

emy of Sciences and Letters. Biologiske Skrifter 58. 
Poncet, C. J. 1709. A Voyage to AEthiopia, made in 

the years 1698, 1699, and 1700. Describing particu-

larly that Famous Empire; as also the Kingdoms of 

Dongola, Sennar, part of Egypt, &c, with The Natural 

History of those Parts. London.



–Dorothea Bedigian, Research Associate, Mis-

souri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri, 


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Plant Science Bulletin

                                                                             Fall 2022 Volume 68 Number 3

Wearing your Botany on 

your sleeve!

Spotted at Botany 2022 

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