Plant Science Bulletin archive

Issue: 2012 v58 No 3 FallActions

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Fall 2012 Volume 58 Number 3


In This Issue..............

A labor of love......................p. 98

BSA Legacy Society Celebrates ! ??

2012 Merit Award 38

Botanical Society of America’s PLANTs Grant Recipients and Mentors

Congratulations to Naomi Volain....p. 95

Introducing APPS......p. 81

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From the Editor

                                                                                    Fall 2012 Volume 58 Number 3



Editorial Committee  

Volume 58

Root Gorelick  


Department of Biology & 

School of Mathematics & 


Carleton University 

Ottawa, Ontario 

Canada, K1H 5N1

Elizabeth Schussler  


Department of Ecology  & 

Evolutionary Biology 

University of Tennessee 

Knoxville, TN 37996-1610

Christopher Martine 


Department of Biology 

Bucknell University 

Lewisburg, PA 17837 


Carolyn M. Wetzel 


Department of Biological Sci-

ences & Biochemistry Program 

Smith College 

Northampton, MA 01063 

Tel. 413/585-3687


Lindsey K. Tuominen 


Warnell School of Forestry & 

Natural Resources 

The University of Georgia 

Athens, GA  30605

“Even those of the younger generation realize 

that within their time the feeling of the people 

toward botany as a science and botany applied has 

changed greatly for the good of the work.  I believe 

this is due to the fact that the utilitarian side of 

botany has been kept largely in the foreground, and 

the people have come to know and understand that 

a substantial encouragement of the work means a 

direct benefit to many important interests….I may 

be preaching an heretical doctrine and be criticized 

on the ground that science has nothing to do with 

such material things and will take care of itself if 

kept pure and undefiled.  This may be true, but I have 

long since reached the opinion that the doctrine of 

science for science’s sake may be beautiful in theory, 

but faulty in practice.  Some one [sic] has said that 

pure science and science applied are like abstract 

and practical Christianity, both beautiful, but one is 

for gods and the other for men.”   These words were 

spoken in 1903 by Beverly T. Galloway, outgoing 

President of the Botanical Society of America, in 

his Presidential Address (Science 19:11-18).  

Galloway’s viewpoint was not shared by the 

Society as it basked in the glory days of the early 

20th century.  But now, nearly 110 years later, we 

live in a society that has little understanding of our 

discipline and even less appreciation for its role in 

society.  It is timely to reconsider our connection to 

applied plant science, especially in the agricultural 

fields, and this is the challenge brought to us by 

current President Elizabeth (Toby) Kellogg.  We are 

happy to be able to share her Presidential Address 

from the annual meeting and hope that you will 

seriously consider her suggestion to make the 

connection between basic and applied plant science 

“more explicit more often.”

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Table of Contents

Society News

Erratum .............................................................................................................................78
Botany 2012 Presidential Address–Dr. Elizabeth A. Kellogg ..........................................78 
New Journal Joins the BSA Family of Publications .........................................................81 
A Behind-the-Secnes Look at the Botany Conference: Planning through  
Execution and Future Challenges .....................................................................................85 
Awards from the Annual Meeting.....................................................................................91

BSA Science Education News and Notes

PlantingScience ................................................................................................................94 
Education Bits and Bobs ..................................................................................................95

Editors Choice Reviews ................................................................................



Jacob Hoover Cowen Herbarium .....................................................................................98
Missouri Botanical Garden Receives $25,000 Grant For Development Of Advanced 
Plant Data Collection System ...........................................................................................99
American Philosophical Society Grants .........................................................................100
Harvard University Bullard Fellowships In Forest Research .........................................100


Reports and Reviews

Botanical education in the United States: Part 2, The nineteenth century— 
Botany for the masses vs. the professionalization of botany  .........................................101

Book Reviews



Books Received



Botany 2013

Celebrating Diversity!

Hilton Riverside, New Orleans, LA  July 26-31, 2013

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Society News



In Volume 58, Issue 2 of the Plant Science Bulletin

Codi Yeager should have been listed as a graduate 

of West Virginia University, not Cornell University.  

We regret the error.

Botany 2012 Presidential Address 

Dr. Elizabeth A. Kellogg  

“Speaking of Food” 

(Note: The video and slides from this lecture can 

be found at


Since this talk is right after a reception and right 

before dinner, it seemed like a good time to talk 

about food.  This may seem like an odd topic for a 

President’s address; after all, most people choose to 

stick with the theme chosen for the meeting.  But 

I’ve been mulling over a question in my mind for 

several months and decided to put it to you here 

today.  The question is this:  Why do we, in this 

particular scientific society [BSA], with its long 

and distinguished tradition of research on plants, 

so rarely connect what we do to agriculture?  I’m 

not planning on answering this question.  Rather I 

will explore it and conclude the talk with the same

Let me start with a bit of personal observation.  

My first course in any sort of plant biology was a 

plant ecology course, which I took my senior year 

in college.  I took it because it met after 9 AM, 

had an early exam, and didn’t have a lab.  In other 

words, I was looking for an easy elective.  After I 

graduated, I worked in a biochemistry lab for a 

while, realized that I didn’t really like killing rats 

and started thinking about what else I could do.  

I thought back to that plant course and ended up 

working for the Forest Service for a while and then 

went back to grad school.  There were many things 

from that first plant course that stuck with me, but 

one of them is the following quote from Gulliver’s 

Travels by Jonathan Swift.  “And he gave it for his 

opinion, that whoever could make two ears of 

corn, or two blades of grass, to grow upon a spot of 

ground where only one grew before, would deserve 

better of mankind, and do more essential service to 

his country, than the whole race of politicians put 

together.” Obviously I did not go into plant breeding 

or agronomy, but rather have had a career in basic 

research.  But I believe firmly in the continuum of 

basic to applied research.  I’m not out there growing 

crops, but I hope that the folks who are might read 

and be informed by the work that I do.  And I’d like 

to suggest that the work going on in BSA should be 

relevant as well.

So let me repeat the question:  Why don’t we 

make more of a connection between the work 

presented at this meeting or published in our 

journals and the area of food for the planet?  At 

this point I should clarify what I mean by the word 

“connect.”  I’m speaking of those brief sentences 

or paragraphs at the beginning or end of a talk or 

article that place the work in its broadest possible 

context, the sentences that link the work to issues 

that the general public or at least the general 

scientist might understand.  These are sentences 

that might get picked up in press releases or might 

find their way into the Broader Impacts section of 

a grant proposal.

As an example, while procrastinating on writing 

this talk, I ran across an article that appeared in the 

BBC Science and Environment section earlier this 

week:  “Antarctic moss lives on ancient penguin 

poo.”  The article, written by science writer Victoria 

Gill, described the work of Prof. Sharon Robinson 

“of the University of Wollongong in Australia, 

[who] has been studying Antarctica’s plants for 16 

years.”  Dr. Robinson is not a member of BSA—I 

checked.  Her study had to do with nutrient capture 

and frost tolerance in Antarctic mosses, and could 

easily have been written by a member of the BSA.  

The “connector” was written by Ms. Gill: “Learning 

the molecular mechanisms behind plants’ abilities 

to dry out but remain viable could help researchers 

to develop ways to store food or even medicines for 

long periods.”  Just a very simple question taking 

this basic research and putting it in a broad and 

agricultural context.

So back to my question:  Why is it rare to find 

such references to food or agriculture in the talks at 

this meeting and the articles in our journals?  

This is particularly perplexing because 

everybody eats plants.  Therefore, knowing more 

about plants is essential for everyone because they 

have such an immediate impact on our lives, at 

breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack time, and banquets 

at conferences.  When we introduce students or 

the general public to plants, we immediately talk 

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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

about the food we eat.  We tell them that grapes are 

fruits and onions are bulbs and celery is a petiole, 

that bread is endosperm, that blueberries are 

Vaccinium and cassava is Manihot.  We point out 

that cabbage is the same species as Brussels sprouts 

and broccoli, even though the Supreme Court says 

that the government can’t make you eat the stuff.  A 

recent article in Plant Science Bulletin by Geoffrey 

Burrows and John Harper describes the value of 

supermarket botany in teaching [www.botany.


A search of all issues of PSB finds 12 references to 

supermarket botany, the earliest in 1958.  In other 

words, there is an obvious and direct connection 

between the study of plants and the practice of 

agriculture and we mention it all the time.  

 So why do we not make the connection in 

our research, at this meeting, in our journals?   




I’m sure that some of you are thinking 

immediately of the mission statement of the 

BSA.  We do basic research, not applied.  We 

are botanists, not breeders or agronomists.  The 

mission of the BSA is “to promote botany, the field 

of basic science dealing with the study and inquiry 

into the form, function, development, diversity, 

reproduction, evolution, and uses of plants and their 

interactions within the biosphere.  To accomplish 

this mission, the objectives of the Society are to: 

sustain and provide improved formal and informal 

education about plants; encourage basic plant 

research; provide expertise, direction, and position 

statements concerning plants and ecosystems; 

and foster communication within the professional 

botanical community, and between botanists and the 

rest of humankind through publications, meetings, 

and committees.”  I’ve added italics here to the word 


 But we do not eschew applied research on 

conservation.   As an exercise, I chose two random 

issues from the American Journal of Botany in 

2011 and in about 10 minutes found the following 

two random quotes. Random quote #1: “Climate 

change and shifts in land use are two major threats 

to biodiversity and are likely to disproportionately 

impact narrow endemics. Understanding how 

such species originated and the extent of their 

genetic diversity will enable land managers to 

better conserve these unique, highly localized 

gene pools.” (Marcussen et al. (2011), Establishing 

the phylogenetic origin, history, and age of the 

narrow endemic Viola guadalupensis (Violaceae). 

Am. J. Bot. 98: 1978-1988.


7aca-4e9d-a297-2835f1f85756).  Note in this case 

that research on a narrow endemic in a family with 

modest economic importance was justified in part 

by the direct application to land management.  Yes, 

it’s basic science.  But it also has implications for a 

thoroughly applied discipline.

Random quote #2: “The effects of climate warming 

on tree growth become more significant at northern 

latitudes and high elevations, and the effects vary 

across species…. Therefore, an investigation 

on intra-annual growth over a large latitudinal 

gradient may be able to detect a systematic change 

in the start and end dates of xylem formation 

during a growing season, thus assisting predictions 

of forest productivity.” (Huang et al. (2011), 

Variation in intra-annual radial growth (xylem 

formation) of Picea mariana (Pinaceae) along a 

latitudinal gradient in western Quebec, Canada. 

Am. J. Bot. 98: 792-800.


7aca-4e9d-a297-2835f1f85756).  Once again the 

article is basic research—developmental anatomy 

to be precise, but the authors provide a connection 

to forestry.  

To summarize this point: we have no trouble 

seeing a continuum from basic to applied research 

in conservation and forestry.  Studies that are 

designed to help conservation managers make 

practical decisions are surely just as applied as 

studies that provide basic information that could 

be translated to agriculture.  So it can’t be just that 

connection to agriculture is applied and we don’t 

do applied stuff.

Are we concerned about working with the private 

sector and/or worried about issues of intellectual 

property?  Much agricultural research and the vast 

majority of plant breeding in the U.S. takes place in 

the private sector and this brings with it concerns 

about ownership of germplasm and research results.  

And much agricultural research in the U.S. serves 

the needs of large-scale conventional “industrial” 

agriculture.  But the fact that much biomedical 

research takes place in the private sector doesn’t 

block public sector research; obviously the public-

“Why is it rare to find such references to food 

or agriculture in the talks at this meeting and 

the articles in our journals?”

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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

private interface has to be negotiated and that will 

happen in different ways by different people, but it 

isn’t an intrinsically intractable problem.  And there 

are many potential jobs in the private sector for our 


There is plenty of agricultural research that goes 

on in the public sector, especially outside the U.S.  

And certainly industrial agriculture is only one 

component of world food production.  Smallholder 

agriculture is common, whether it’s this CSA 

[climate smart agriculture] farm in Missouri or 

this sorghum field in Africa.  Surely basic research 

needs to be connected explicitly to efforts in this 


Let me take a few minutes to remind you why 

this problem is urgent, and argue that the BSA 

needs to help address it.  You already know about 

projections of global population growth as shown 

in this projection from the UN.  Barring major 

catastrophe, the decreasing projection will not 

occur, and most people focus on the middle or 

upper projections.  This year the human population 

of the world hit 7 billion.  Projections of future 

growth vary, but the median projection indicates 

that we will add another 2 billion people by 

2050.  The good news about this projection is that 

population may not grow a great deal higher than 

that; the growth rate might (emphasize “might”) be 

leveling off.  But 2 billion more people in less than 

40 years is a lot. Crop yield is increasing but not 

as rapidly as the population.  The FAO estimates 

that world food production will have to rise 70% 

to meet the demand.   Food shortages have already 

provoked instability in other parts of the world, 

most recently the riots in Algeria that triggered the 

so-called Arab Spring.  And the challenge is made 

more acute by climate change.  

Let me also remind you of the speed of plant 

breeding.  It is generally slow; time to development 

of a new crop is several years.  Imagine an elite 

line of wheat that is vigorous, high yielding, but 

is susceptible to a fungus.  Now suppose that you 

find a small, low-yielding plant that is fungus-

resistant.   How do you get the resistance gene 

into the crop?  Of course, you cross them and then 

select for resistance; this takes about six months.  

But in the first generation, the resulting plant is not 

especially vigorous and has low yield; because it has 

only half the DNA from the elite line and half from 

the wild relative, the valuable, high-yield linkage 

groups are broken up.  The solution is to backcross 

the first generation hybrid to the elite line; this 

takes another six months to get seed.  After six 

backcrosses (about 2.5 years), you have mostly 

restored the genetic make-up of your high yielding 

line and have introgressed the resistance gene.  It 

is a process that works very well, but it is not fast.

By this point you are probably thinking, yes, this 

is all very worrisome, but we aren’t crop scientists.  

So let me cite a few areas that to me seem to connect 

to agriculture.  

First I should note the special issue of AJB on 

Next-Generation Sequencing (http://www.  Many of the articles 

in this issue addressed evolution or genomic 

structure of crop plants, or population structure 

of weeds, or tools for crop improvement.  Is it the 

technology itself, the particular editors, or just 

random chance that this issue connected work 

of BSA members to agriculture in way that many 

other issues do not?  I don’t know the answer. 

Another area where a connection could be made:  

drought tolerance.  Anyone living in the middle part 

of the country this summer knows the importance 

of identifying genes and developing crops that 

tolerate drought.  A lot of us work on plants that 

are tolerant of drought. Their diversity, phylogeny, 

biogeography, and phenology all provide examples 

of how plants cope with water stress and could help 

identify novel genetic or physiological pathways 

that would be of value to agriculture.  

Gene flow: There is certainly the direct 

application of the study of gene flow to determine 

the likely spread of transgenes from crops.  I can 

cite the work of one of our merit award winners, 

Allison Snow, on this direct application.  But the 

applied work occurs within a theoretical and 

empirical framework of population genetics and 

population structure.   

Pollination biology:  There is ongoing concern 

for the maintenance of honeybee populations 

and a worry that without them, fruit crops will 

not be pollinated.  But there are many examples 

in evolutionary history of pollinators changing 

preferences.  Do those examples provide any hints 

about how the plant-pollinator relationship might 

be modified to mitigate the problem? Or do all 

the examples from evolutionary history really say 

“The FAO estimates that world food production 

will have to rise 70% to meet the demand.”

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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

that plants who lose a major pollinator go extinct?  

I.e., does the phylogenetic history of pollination 

biology tell us that the almond crop is inevitably 

doomed if the honeybee population crashes?  Or is 

there something instructive that we can learn from 

evolutionary history?

Model systems:  As genetic and genomic tools 

become cheaper and easier to produce, botanists 

become less preoccupied with Arabidopsis or rice 

and more willing to develop systems that offer 

insights into particular biological problems.  I’ve 

been involved in the development of green millet 

(Setaria viridis), which is being pursued for several 

reasons, in part as a handy species in which to 

study the regulation of C

photosynthesis, with the 

ultimate goal of making a C

strain of rice.  Why 

was I involved?  Because my lab has used S. viridis 

as a system in which to study the regulation of 

plant architecture (basic research).  We’ve studied 

developmental morphology, quantitative genetics, 

molecular phylogeny of the genus Setaria, and 

written a monograph.  Currently we are working 

on population genetics, collecting S. viridis from 

its native habitats.  And yes, others led the effort to 

sequence the genome and develop a transformation 

system, but it took a lot of basic—BSA-type—

research to make the model that is being used to 

improve crops.  

I mention this because it is my own experience, 

but I could also cite the Planetary Biodiversity 

Inventory project on Solanaceae, and many 

equivalent projects in Brassicaceae.  

I could keep going with examples, and in fact I 

cut about six more out of this talk.  But you get the 

point: understanding plant evolution, systematics, 

diversity, ecology, development, and interactions 

matters as much for agriculture—which we often 

don’t mention—as it does for conservation—which 

we mention a lot.  

So as you proceed to the banquet, as you enjoy 

that fermented grape or barley product, the plate 

of Asteraceae leaves, the avian-processed grass, and 

as you conclude with your rubiaceous beverage, 

consider that it is really your work that helped put 

that in front of you in that form.  BSA research does 

contribute to feeding the world.  We all know the 

connection is there.  Why don’t we make it more 

explicit more often?

New Journal Joins the BSA 

Family of Publications

In January 2013, the BSA will launch a new peer-

reviewed journal, Applications in Plant Sciences 

(APPS), designed for the rapid dissemination of 

newly developed tools and protocols in all areas 

of the plant sciences that are represented within 

the Society. This is an exciting opportunity for 

the BSA to take advantage of the Society’s wide 

breadth of expertise represented by the different 

societal sections, and especially to address growing 

technological advances in many of these areas. Today 

our world is much different than just a decade ago 

as techniques, such as next-generation sequencing, 

GIS (Geographical Information Systems), gene 

and genome manipulation, and cell/tissue labeling, 

are dramatically propelling fields forward and 

becoming the standard in many laboratories. These 

advancements are also enabling scientists to delve 

into rarely studied areas; for example, researchers 

can now more effectively examine belowground 

soil dynamics and soil communities, as well as 

nutrient uptake and exchange within the complex 

root networks of forest ecosystems. The availability 

of social media and smartphone technology today 

also presents unfettered opportunities for botanical 

applications, such as computerized recognition of 

leaf and flower shapes to identify taxa. In addition, 

certain fields are beginning to intersect, leading 

to the formation of new areas (e.g., landscape 

genetics), and creating opportunities to combine 

both traditional and novel methods from different 

areas.  APPS is the new source for reporting such 

advancements, consistent with its purpose to foster 

communication within the botanical community 

to advance research in the plant sciences. As such, 

APPS will complement and support AJB because 

the new journal will serve as the publication outlet 

of methodological information and techniques 

that can then be used in more extensive studies 

published in AJB

As an online-only journal, APPS will be part of 

BioOne’s Open Access Collection (www.BioOne.

org/) so that articles will be freely accessible 

to readers worldwide. BioOne was specifically 

selected because the mission and priorities of this 

not-for-profit organization align closely with those 

of the BSA, as well as for its emphasis on serving 

independent society publishers within the greater 



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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

researchers in the years and decades to come. For 

example, as an online-only journal, authors will be 

able to incorporate multimedia files (e.g., videos 

demonstrating the application of a new method 

or animations portraying a new process) into 

their articles. There is also the opportunity to link 

data within an article directly with an appropriate 

online source using hyperlinks for instant access. 

This could consist, for example, of DNA sequence 

information deposited in GenBank (http://www., media housed on 

Figshare (, or ecological data 

uploaded to Dryad (, an 

international repository that accepts data of all 

formats, including software scripts.

Submitting to 


All authors are invited to consider APPS as a 

publication outlet and the Editors are currently 

recruiting submissions for the introductory 

issues. Authors wishing to contribute papers to 

APPS should submit their manuscripts online 

through  AJB’s Editorial Manager page (http://, using the article 

type “Applications in Plant Sciences.” Online 

submission through the AJB site will continue until 

the official APPS submission site is available, which 

is expected in early September. While primer notes 

will continue to be accepted for consideration, the 


Although debuting in 2013, APPS has been in 

the making for several years. The journal originated 

as the American Journal of Botany’s online-only 

section, AJB Primer Notes & Protocols in the Plant 

Sciences (AJB PNP), which was begun in 2009 

to serve as a publication outlet for researchers 

in genetic and molecular areas. The section was 

created by Editors Kent Holsinger, Pamela Soltis, 

and Theresa Culley with AJB Managing Editor Amy 

McPherson and Production Editor Richard Hund 

and with the approval of AJB Editor-in-Chief, Judy 

Jernstedt. At the time, authors had very few options 

for where to submit primer notes papers, especially 

those containing a limited number of loci or limited 

sampling (as in the case of rare or endangered 

species). BSA recognized the value of these articles, 

especially in terms of their importance for new 

researchers seeking publication or scientists 

wishing to publish markers as the foundation for a 

new study. Consequently, AJB PNP was created in 

part to address these needs. 

This online section of AJB was highly successful, 

with annual submissions reaching over 200 

manuscripts in 2012. To handle this increased 

volume, Beth Parada was recruited as Online 

Publication Editor to oversee the AJB PNP section, 

and several other editors were subsequently invited 

to join the editorial board, including Lisa Wallace 

and Mitch Cruzan, among others. In 2011, a 

revolving panel of reviewing editors (typically 

post-doctoral researchers and junior faculty) 

with two-year appointments were recruited to 

assist in the editorial process. The majority of the 

early submissions were primer notes, with most 

reporting microsatellite or similar PCR-based 

markers developed in different plant species. 

Although some protocol papers were published, 

these addressed genetic or molecular methods. 

In early 2012, the BSA Board of Directors, in 

conjunction with the Publications Committee, AJB 

PNP  editors, and BSA staff, decided to graduate 

the online section of AJB to its own journal, now 

titled APPS. In doing so, the BSA wanted to expand 

the breadth of the new journal to focus on new 

protocols and techniques in all areas represented 

by the BSA (including, but not limited to, genetics 

and molecular biology). APPS will still continue to 

publish primer notes for genetic markers such as 

microsatellites and SNPs (see below). 

The new journal has been designed to be flexible 

in responding quickly to the demands and needs of 

Theresa Culley, Editor-in-Chief, APPS

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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

editorial board especially encourages submissions 

of protocols that improve investigations in any 

area of plant biology, including methods on 

genetic markers, and morphological, physiological, 

biochemical, anatomical, and ecological data 


Publications will include both invited papers 

and those submitted through the usual review 

process. For submission guidelines, please consult 

the Instructions for Authors (http://www.botany.

org/ajb/APPS_Online_Instructions.html). Papers 

will be accepted for publication in the following 


•  Protocol Notes: These papers will report new 

protocols and technical advancements in any 

area of the plant sciences. Authors must explain 

the rationale for the new protocol, provide a 

complete description, and demonstrate that 

the new method is advantageous over current 

techniques. A printable protocol sheet for the 

laboratory bench as well as a supply list are also 

encouraged as appendices.
•  Application  Notes: Longer articles 

incorporating and emphasizing a new protocol 

or method in a larger study (i.e., with more 

extensive sampling than that in a Protocol 

Note) will be published under this category. 

Submissions could involve any area within the 

plant sciences.
•  Review  Articles: In this category, available 

techniques and/or protocols within a given 

area of the plant sciences will be reviewed, 

emphasizing the relative advantages and 

disadvantages of each. Articles must describe 

and compare currently available techniques 

or protocols, as well as identify any potential 

new areas for development of technological 

advancements. These articles will usually be by 

invitation, although any author is welcome to 

discuss a review article concept with the editorial 

staff prior to submission.
•  Primer  Notes: These articles must report a 

large number of novel, polymorphic markers 

with evidence of wide applicability (e.g., cross-

amplification with related taxa) for species of 

scientific, economic, or horticultural importance. 

These could include, but are not limited to, 

microsatellite markers, SNPs, or other types of 

markers. If primers have previously been published 

for a species, authors must justify the development 

and usefulness of additional primers. Markers 

developed using novel techniques are especially 

As with any new journal, APPS currently does 

not have an impact factor, but will be evaluated for 

inclusion in the Science Citation Index (SCI) in 

March 2013. If the evaluation is positive, indexing 

will be retroactive to the first issue of the journal, 

and  APPS will receive an immediacy index after 

one year of publication. Two years of publication 

are required for calculation of an impact factor; 

this is expected to be available in June 2015. Any 

questions regarding submissions may be directed 

to Beth Parada (, Online 

Publication Editor for APPS.

Vision for the Future

The development and launch of APPS this 

coming year is an example of the BSA’s strategic plan 

to promote botany by pursuing new opportunities 

as they arise. Consistent with the BSA’s objectives 

to encourage basic plant research and to foster 

communication within the professional botanical 

community, the new journal will serve as a 

conduit for information based directly on the 

expertise offered by the Society and the sharing of 

which information will directly benefit members 

of the Society. As the centennial year for AJB 

approaches and the BSA reflects on its critical role 

in promoting decades of high-quality botanical 

research, it is fitting that the next century brings 

new opportunities such as APPS to broaden further 

the role and impact of the BSA over the years and 

decades to come. 

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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

Call for Applications: 

APPS 2013–2015 Reviewing Editor Board

The Botanical Society of America is seeking interested applicants to serve on the Reviewing 

Editor Board for Applications in Plant Sciences, BSA’s new online-only, open access journal that is 

launching from the AJB Primer Notes & Protocols section in 2013. The Reviewing Editor Board 

will be comprised of a select number of post-doctoral researchers and graduate students who have 

advanced to candidacy; Reviewing Editors will evaluate original submissions according to criteria 

established for the journal and provide feedback to the Associate Editor. Reviewing Editors will also 

assess revised manuscripts for adherence to comments and suggestions. Members of the Reviewing 

Editor Board will be expected to handle up to two manuscripts per month and to agree to a 2-year 

commitment. Members of this board will be mentored by the APPS Editorial Board members and 

receive experience in the editorial and peer-review processes. Successful editors will also receive 

reduced registration rates to the annual conference of the BSA.

Applications must include a cover letter from the applicant, CV, and a letter of recommendation 

from the applicant’s supervisor or major professor. Successful applicants will demonstrate an 

attention to detail and an interest in gaining experience in this important aspect of academic service; 

information on scheduled time in the field during the commitment period, if known, should also be 


Applications should be sent to by September 21, 2012.


Applications in Plant Sciences Editorial Board

Theresa Culley, Editor-in-Chief, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio
Richard Cronn, Associate Editor, USDA Forest Service, Corvallis, Oregon
Mitchell Cruzan, Associate Editor, Portland State University, Portland, Oregon
Kent Holsinger, Associate Editor, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut
Jeff Maughan, Associate Editor, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah
Mike Moore, Associate Editor, Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio
Pamela Soltis, Associate Editor, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 
Lisa Wallace, Associate Editor, Mississippi State University, Starkville, Mississippi

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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

meeting space, which keeps the conference cost 

down—making attending the Botany conference as 

affordable as possible for you.  You can see that it 

is crucial that we meet our hotel room blocks.  We 

try to negotiate fair hotel room rates in each city so 

that it’s a win for both sides.  Amenities including 

free internet, free breakfast, and free snacks make 

your stay more enjoyable and hopefully encourage 

your decision to choose one of our hotels and help 

us keep conference costs down.

The real planning for Botany 2012 started last fall, 

with detailed site visits. At this time we identified the 

Program Committee who determined the scientific 

content of the conference, and began working 

with volunteers to determine field trip locations, 

guides, and costs. BSA staff builds the Botany 2012 

website and more plans are finalized.  Symposia 

are submitted and funding is determined, Special 

Lecture speakers are identified and planning begins 

for workshops and other events.

Networking remains one of the most important 

reasons for attending the Botany conferences.

A Behind-the-Scenes Look 

at the Botany Conference: 

Planning Through Execution 

and Future Challenges

The Botany 2012 conference is just a memory, 

and based on the recent attendees’ survey, it looks 

like it was a very good memory.   Here are a few 

of the statistics that resulted from the over 222 

attendees who responded to our questions:  87% of 

respondents rated this meeting as one of the best 

Botany conferences they have attended, 92% stated 

that registration was easy, 80% felt that the abstract 

submission site was user-friendly, 71% purchased 

or are considering purchasing a product from one 

of our exhibitors, and 61% stated they are unwilling 

to pay an extra conference fee for WiFi at the 


Do you ever wonder how the Botany conference 

really operates?  We are about to give you an insider’s 

look into the planning of a Botany conference as 

well as a discussion of some of the most recent and 

pressing challenges for planning future meetings.

Botany 2012 planning actually began about 

three years ago with a decision not only to bring 

the conference to Columbus, but also with an 

estimate that 800 of you would attend. With that 

estimate, we negotiate and guarantee a certain 

volume of business to the conference location and 

surrounding hotels. We have to provide a guarantee 

to the hotels and conference center for a specific 

number of hotel room nights and session rooms.  In 

addition, we had to guarantee that we would spend a 

minimum of $100,000 on food and beverage. All of 

this information goes into the contract to establish 

the base conference cost. If we reach the guaranteed 

hotel room nights and food and beverage estimates, 

the session rooms are free, but if we come up short 

from the estimates made 3 years in advance, we 

could incur tens of thousands in additional rental 

fees and penalties.  It is our intent to never pay for 

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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

Turning the poster session into more of a social 

event has been very well received.

Then there are the variables. Each year is a 

different location, with a different local team. Every 

year, we must establish expectations. For example, 

some of you have been with us to Snowbird, both 

times. Many people said the second time was better. 

That’s because everyone knew what was expected, 

and worked to do their part. Our goal is always to 

make it right the first time, and there are always 

challenges. One of this year’s major challenges was 

that we actually met in 2 separate facilities.  The 

session rooms, the banquets, the registration desk, 

and the Sunday evening Plenary Address were part 

of the Hyatt complex. The exhibit hall, the Sunday 

night mixer, coffee breaks, lunch in the mezzanine 

in the exhibit hall, and the poster sessions were in 

the Columbus Convention Center. Two different 

facilities, two different conference contracts, two 

different staffs to interface with, and two different 

sets of BEOs!  If you never realized that, then we 

were successful.

Every year, we deal with potential cost impacts. 

In some conference centers, coffee has been 

upwards of $100/gallon, and we drink a lot of 

coffee! This year we had about 36 “no shows” for 

poster sessions. That means we ordered 9 more 

poster boards at $50.00 plus labor and services 

charges each. That’s money we didn’t have to spend. 

If someone needs internet service in a session room 

at the last minute, that equals more dollars. And the 

Starting in the spring, we begin to firm up our 

program with the abstract submission process. 

April 1st is the normal  abstract submission deadline.  

This is also a big day for the conference, as it will 

help validate our estimate from three years earlier 

of how large the conference will be.  We can now 

determine how many sessions and programs 

we will have based on the number of abstracts 

submitted.  Now the program committee goes to 

work—forming the sessions, their length, how 

many abstracts will be presented, estimated session 

attendance, audio-visual needs, etc.  Based on these 

details, a schedule is created and session rooms are 

assigned based on what the conference center has 

allocated to us. At this point, we are assigning room 

sizes for sessions, and still guessing how many 

attendees will really show up! 

May and June arrive, and conference registrations 

are rolling in. June is always the scramble month.  

During this time, the program and abstract books 

are finalized and sent to the printer.  T-shirts, 

conference bags, and water bottles are designed 

and ordered, field trip buses are determined, and 

the biggest and most important part of running 

the conference begins to shape up. Banquet Events 

Orders, or BEOs, are submitted.  BEOs are the 

event orders that the conference organizers request 

that the hotel or conference center perform for us. 

If an event  requires food or beverage, then there 

is  a cost that needs to be paid. BEOs include every 

detail of every session and event.  Botany 2012 had 

293 different BEOs.  How many tables and chairs 

are needed, and how are they arranged?  How many 

cups of coffee, cookies, scrambled eggs, sandwiches, 

or, most importantly, even more cookies, are 

needed?  If it’s not on a BEO, it won’t happen.  

The Botany conference organizers also work with 

many third-party suppliers and vendors. We have a 

number of “legacy partners” that follow us around 

the country and support us each year. All of our 

shirts, bags, and water bottles come from an Austin, 

Texas, partner; our printing (books and signs) 

is always done by the same printing broker; and 

our field-trip buses are arranged by the same bus 

broker.  Among the most valuable of our partners is 

our AV team of Jake and Eric who make sure your 

presentations appear as you wish them to.  Each of 

these partners has been part of the team for several 

years; they know how the conference works, and 

how they support the conference and you.  

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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

also hear: “We need more chairs here, it’s too cold 

in there, can we have 5 more for this lunch, I lost 

my banquet ticket, I didn’t know I had to pre-order 

audio speakers for my session, the projector is not 

showing the correct reds in this session room, the 

coffee is out and there is 5 minutes left in the coffee 

break session, can I print 50 copies from your 

computer, someone told me to come to the office 

and pick up my check.”   The list of items goes on 

for the next 5 days. Hopefully, we keep everything 

running smoothly and everyone is as happy as 

possible.  Next time—come on in and say “hi!”

The conference has evolved over the past few 

years to be more than just a scientific 

meeting.  We have added new events, 

more networking opportunities, and 

more fun!  We have been working to 

expand and enhance the exhibit hall.  We 

have made the poster session more of an 

event and social time.  We have included 

more students in the planning process to 

be sure they have a voice and presence 

at the conference.  And this year, we 

expanded the opportunity for the BSA 

incoming president to reach more people 

by hosting the talk before the banquet on 

Wednesday evening.  If you would like 

to watch the presentation by Dr. Toby 

Kellogg, “Speaking of Food,” it is  at the 

BSA’s YouTube channel (http://www.

Another exciting event in the past two 

conferences has been the “Botany in Action” 

Program. This opportunity started as a way to give 

back to the communities that we visit.  This year, 

about 30 eager botanists went to a local community 

garden, in the massive heat of July, and harvested, 

weeded, planted, gardened and helped with this 

local project (see the following page).  This event 

will continue at Botany 2013 as we will look for 

another local New Orleans organization that might 

benefit from eager volunteer time.  

Currently, the most challenging and potentially 

costly part of conferences is WiFi. Hotels and 

conference centers have farmed those services out 

to third-party internet suppliers, and they all know 

that with the explosion of personal devices, WiFi has 

grown to be a profit center for them and a huge cost 

and item to negotiate for us. You may get your home 

internet service for something like $39/month. For 

the Botany 2012 conference, the initial price quoted 

was in excess of $28,000. We negotiated downward 

biggest cost variables: we don’t hit our guaranteed 

hotel room nights for the conference, or we spend 

less than the minimum on food and beverage. That 

can cost us tens of thousands of dollars, and we only 

find that out after the conference. 

Panic mode, 2 weeks before the conference!   That’s 

when we realize we planned for 800 attendees, and 

now 1,100 have registered online. So we scramble 

and double-check everything—making sure we have 

enough bags and program books, making sure the 

session rooms are big enough.  Did we order enough 

coffee for the continental breakfast?  We may need to 

relocate a session room, but the program book and  

Hands-on learning activities in the exhibit hall were a hit.

schedule are already being printed.  We are 

constantly revising and changing BEOs, to make 

sure everything is perfect and runs seamlessly.  

Friday afternoon before the conference starts, we sit 

down at the hotel/conference center with the head 

of each department and walk though the BEOs. 

It’s like the conductor going through the music 

right before a concert. Everything is set, and then 

we open the doors.  And then someone comes up 

to me and says that the room for speaker Dr. X is 

just not big enough….so now we have to move a 

session. That’s ok—we can do it!   It’s only 2 more 

signs to make on top of the 275 we already planned 

to place around the conference.  On Friday evening, 

registration opens and the real magic begins.  

Botany 2012 is alive and takes on a life of its own!

The real hub of the conference is the office….

We are always there to answer questions, make 

snap decisions, or offer you a leftover cookie.  We 

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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

In the future, we are looking for more ways to 

keep the conference “alive” throughout the year.  

Many of you have participated in having your 

poster videotaped for our virtual poster session 

on the web.  Many of you have expressed interest 

in viewing video clips from special addresses and 

invited speakers, as well as reviewing talks online 

through PowerPoint slides that are linked to the 

audio presentation. We hope to have some of the 

special addresses and talks from 2012 on the web 

soon, so that you can review them, share them with 

colleagues or in your lecture halls,  or see them if 

you missed it the first time.   

It is our hope that you continue to enjoy the 

Botany conferences.  We certainly enjoy organizing 

them and working to keep it a worthwhile, 

economically feasible, scientifically relevant, and a 

fun week for you!  If you have thoughts and ideas 

that you would like to see at YOUR conference, feel 

free to email me at  We will 

consider anything.  As Bill Dahl, BSA Executive 

Director says, “We’re Botanical—we can do 

-Johanne Stogran, Director of Conferences, BSA, 

with help from Kevin Stogran, Conference Chief 

Minion and Heather Cacanindin, Membership 

Director, BSA

from there. Sure, their initial offer is a great WiFi 

package, with internet access everywhere in the 

conference center.  To provide that we would have 

to increase registration fees $25 per person. Not 

willing to raise your rates, we negotiated, argued, 

and complained. After a number of weeks, we 

were able to reduce the cost significantly to less 

than one third of their initial offer, but we had to 

reduce the coverage area.  Knowing that we had 

negotiated for free internet in your hotel rooms, 

we hoped that access would be sufficient.  This 

might be sufficient for some. However, we realize 

that connectivity is important to many of you for 

tweeting, sharing conference knowledge with those 

in your labs/home institutions not in attendance, 

and connecting with people during the conference.  

Don’t be offended when someone opens their laptop 

or iPad during your talk—they just might be taking 

notes on the wisdom you are sharing or tweeting to 

their colleagues and friends with a quote from your 

presentation.  We will look at ways to be able to 

provide more internet access while keeping it cost 

effective. Along these same lines, we are planning to 

release a mobile conference app which can be used 

on personal devices to create your own personal 

schedule, view it, and make adjustments to it while 

on site.

Our exhibitors are a very important addition to the meeting, and 71% of Botany 

2012 attendees purchased or are considering purchasing a product from one of our 


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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

The Botany in Action team braved the brutal heat to help the Upper Arlington Community Garden—weeding, clear-

ing, harvesting, painting and gardening in the annual project.  Watch for ways you can participate in New Orleans. 

(Thanks to Janice Coons and Gianinne Loerch for the pictures)

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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

The Faces of Botany 2012 Award Winners

Congratulations to these and all the winners.  For a complete listing of all awards, see:

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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

Awards from the Annual 


Charles Edwin Bessey Award 

(BSA in association with the Teaching Section 

and Education Committee)

Dr.  Paul  Williams, Professor Emeritus, 

University of Wisconsin–Madison, Fast Plants 

Program. Dr. Williams developed a rapid cycling 

Brassica. This simple act changed the way science 

is taught in the United States and around the world. 

Today, over 10 million students use Fast Plants, 

as they are also known, every year.   Fast Plants 

complete their life cycle in as quickly as 35 days, 

allowing students to develop an understanding of 

the plant life cycle and track the results of genetic 

experiments. Dr. Williams is a familiar figure at 

conferences, leading workshops that introduce 

teachers to inquiry-based, innovative,  and 

inexpensive ways to use Fast Plants with large 

lecture hall classes or small groups in classrooms. 

He was also a contributor to educational manuals 

such as “Exploring with Wisconsin Fast Plants,” 

“Spiraling Through Life with Fast Plants,” and 

“Bottle Biology.”  He has received many awards and 

honors, including being recognized as a Fellow of 

the National Academy of Sciences and a recipient 

of the Eriksson Medal from the Royal Swedish 

Academy of Sciences.

Drs.  Les  Hickock  and  Thomas  R.  Warne

University of Tennessee. Drs. Hickock and Warne 

collaborated on the development and genetics of the 

tropical fern Ceratopteris.  They realized that this 

plant would make a powerful educational resource 

because of the rapid life cycle, the dynamics of sperm 

motility, and the potential of investigating density-

dependent changes in gametophyte development.   

They produced instructional materials to support 

inquiry education, such as an intriguing exploration 

of sperm chemotaxis. Today,  Ceratopteris  is 

distributed worldwide in K–16 classrooms through 

the C-Fern program. 

Special Awards

Dr.  Judy  Skog, Outgoing BSA Past-President, 

George Mason University.

The BSA presented a special award to Dr. 

Skog expressing gratitude and appreciation for 

outstanding contributions and support for the 

Society. Judy has provided exemplary contributions 

to the Society in terms of leadership, time, and 


Dr.  Pamela  Diggle, Outgoing Secretary, 

University of Colorado.

The BSA presented a special award to Dr. 

Diggle expressing gratitude and appreciation for 

outstanding contributions and support for the 

Society. Pam has provided exemplary contributions 

to the Society in terms of leadership, time, and 


Dr.  Chris  Haufler, Outgoing Director-at-large 

for Education, University of Kansas.

The BSA presented a special award to Dr. 

Haufler expressing gratitude and appreciation 

for outstanding contributions and support 

for the Society. Chris has provided exemplary 

contributions to the Society in terms of leadership, 

time, and effort.

Marian  Chau,  BSA Student Representative to 

the Board, University of Hawai’i at Manoa.

The BSA presented a special award to Marian 

expressing gratitude and appreciation for 

outstanding contributions and support for the 


Isabel Cookson Award 

(Paleobotanical Section) 

Established in 1976, the Isabel Cookson Award 

recognizes the best student paper presented in the 

Paleobotanical Section.

Ashley Klymiuk, University of Kansas. Advisor: 

Dr. Thomas Taylor. 2012 award recipient for the 

paper, “Anamorphic fungi from the Princeton 

Chert: New insights into paleomicrobial diversity.” 

Co-authors: Thomas Taylor and Michael Krings.

George R. Cooley Award 

(Systematics Section and the American Society 

of Plant Taxonomists) 

The ASPT’s George R. Cooley Award is given for 

the best paper in systematics given at the annual 

meeting by a botanist in the early stages of his/

her career. Awards are made to members of ASPT 

who are graduate students or within five years of 

their postdoctoral careers. The Cooley Award is 

given for work judged to be substantially complete, 

synthetic, and original. First authorship is required, 

and graduate students or those within five years of 

finishing their Ph.D. are eligible. He/She must be 

a member of ASPT at time of abstract submission, 

and only one paper per candidate can be judged.

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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

Emanuel D. Rudolph Award 

(Historical Section)
The Emanuel D. Rudolph Award is given by the 

Historical Section of the BSA for the best student 

presentation/poster of a historical nature at the 

annual meetings.

Kathryn  LeCroy, Birmingham Southern 

College. Advisor: Clare Emily Clifford. 2012 award 

recipient for her presentation, “Botanical literature 

in 19th-century United States: Gift books and 




This award was established in 2006 by Dr. 

Barbara D. Webster, Grady’s wife, and Dr. 

Susan V. Webster, his daughter, to honor the 

life and work of Dr. Grady L. Webster. The 

American Society of Plant Taxonomists and 

the Botanical Society of America are pleased 

to join together in honoring Grady Webster. 



Drs. Elizabeth Zacharias and Bruce Baldwin 


“A molecular phylogeny of North American 

Atripliceae (Chenopodiaceae), with implications 

for floral and photosynthetic pathway evolution.”  

Systematic Botany, 2010 

Edgar T. Wherry Award 

(Pteridological Section and the American Fern 


The Edgar T. Wherry Award is given for the best 

paper presented during the contributed papers 

session of the Pteridological Section. This award is 

in honor of Dr. Wherry’s many contributions to the 

floristics and patterns of evolution in ferns.

Weston Testo, Colgate University. Advisor and 

co-author: James Watkins. 2012 award recipient 

for his paper, “Comparative gametophyte ecology 

of the American hart’s-tongue fern and associated 

fern taxa: Evidence for recent population declines 

in New York State.” 

This year’s award was given to Mauricio

Diazgranados of Saint Louis University and 

Missouri Botanical Garden for the talk, “Geography 

shapes the phylogeny of frailejones (Espeletiinae 

Cuatrec., Asteraceae): A remarkable example of 

recent rapid radiation in sky islands.” Co-author: 

Janet Barber.

Katherine Esau Award 

(Developmental and Structural Section) 
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.

Christina Lord, Dalhousie University. Advisor: 

Arunika Gunawardena. 2012 award recipient for 

the paper, “Actin microfilaments: Key regulators 

of programmed cell death (PCD) in the lace plant.” 

Co-authors: Adrian Dauphinee and Arunika 


Maynard F. Moseley Award 

(Paleobotanical and Developmental and 

Structural 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 January 16, 2003, in 

Santa Barbara, California, 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.

Alexander  Bippus, Humboldt State University. 

Advisor: Alexandru Tomescu. 2012 Moseley Award 

recipient for the paper, “Thalloid fossils comparable 

to bryophyte and fern gametophytes from the Lower 

Cretaceous (Valanginian-Hauterivian) of Vancouver 

Island, British Columbia.” Co-authors: Maria 

Friedman, Ruth Stockey, and Alexandru Tomescu.

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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

Developmental & Structural 

Section Best Student Poster 


Meng-Ying Tsai, National Taiwan University, for 

the paper “A histological study of microsporogenesis 

and pollen development of Oxalis corymbosa and 

Oxalis corniculata in Taiwan.” Co-authors: Su-Hwa 

Chen and Wen-Yuan Kao. 

Rebecca  Povilus, Harvard University, for the 

paper “Auxin biosynthesis and female reproductive 

development in Aquilegia.” Co-author: William 


Ecology Section 

Undergraduate Student 

Presentation Award, Sponsored 

by LI-COR 

Megan  Ward, SUNY Plattsburgh. Advisor: Dr. 

Chris Martine. For the paper, “Establishment of 

new regional herbarium leads to more than 100 

new flora atlas records for New York State.” Co-

author: Chris Martine.

Jenna  Annis  and  Jennifer  O’Brien, Eastern 

Illinois University. Advisor: Dr. Janice Coons. For 

the paper, “Breaking seed dormancy of Penstemon 

tubiflorus.” Co-authors: Janice Coons and Nancy 


Ecology Section Graduate 

Student Presentation Award, 

Sponsored by LI-COR 

Roxanneh Khorsand Rosa, Florida International 

University. Advisor: Dr. Suzanne Koptur. For 

the paper, “Floral biology and pollination of an 

agroforestry palm, Mauritia flexuosa: Why field 

observations are not enough!” Co-authors: Suzanne 

Koptur and Reinaldo Imbrozio Barbosa.

Daniel  Park, University of California, Davis. 

Advisor: Dr. Daniel Potter. For the paper, “Weed 

profiling: A molecular phylogenetic approach to 

Darwin’s naturalization hypothesis.” Co-author: 

Daniel Potter.

Ecology Section Award, 

Best Graduate Student Poster 

Award, Sponsored by LI-COR

Jennifer  Murphy, John Carroll University. 

Advisor: Dr. Rebecca Drenovsky. For the paper, 

“Early life history traits in globally invasive and 

non-invasive Rosa congeners.” Co-authors: Lindsay 

Bernhard, Maria Loya, Rachael Glover, and 

Rebecca Drenovsky.

Genetics Section Student 

Poster Award 

Chrissy McAllister, St. Louis University. Advisor: 

Dr. Allison Miller. For the paper, “Environmental 

determinants of cytotype diversity in Big bluestem 

(Andropogon  gerardii).” Co-authors: Paul Kron, 

Russell Blaine, and Allison Miller. 

Genetics Section Student 

Research Awards 

Genetics Section Student Research Awards 

provide $500 for research funding and an additional 

$500 for attendance at a future BSA meeting. 

Ursula  King, University of Connecticut, 

Graduate Student Award. Advisor: Dr. Donald Les. 

For the proposal, “Provision of genome resources for 

Najas marina and Najas minor, Hydrocharitaceae”

Physiological Section  

LI-COR Prize (Best Paper)

Matthew  Ogburn, Brown University. Advisor: 

Dr. Erica Edwards. For the paper, “Anatomy 

of leaf succulence in the clade Portulacineae + 

Molluginaceae: Evolutionary jumps into novel 

phenotypic space.” Co-author: Erica Edwards.

Physiological Section  

LI-COR Prize (Best Poster)

Robert  “Berto”  Griffin-Nolan, Ithaca College. 

Advisor: Dr. Peter Melcher. For the paper, “The 

role of green light in photosynthesis in bryophytes 

and higher plants.” Co-authors: Peter Melcher and 

Benjamin Rosen.

Physiological Section Best 

Poster Award

Albina  Khasanova, John Carroll University. 

Advisor: Dr. Rebecca Drenovsky. For the poster, 

“Impacts of drought on nitrogen resorption of 

grasses in the Intermountain West.” Co-authors: 

Megan Thornhill and Rebecca Drenovsky.

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Master Plant Science Team 

Thanks and Call  

Thanks  to  2011-2012  Master  Plant  Science

Team! We extend our gratitude to the 2010-2011 

Master Plant Science Team (MPST), a special 

cohort of PlantingScience mentors who commit to 

mentor approximately four teams in both the fall 

and spring session and connect with a classroom 


The  Botanical  Society  of  America sponsored: 

Courtney  Angelo,  Wesley  Beaulieu,  Alan

Bowsher,  Katie  Clark,  Daniel  Carter,  Matthew

Christians,  Kate  Cummings,  Ben  Gahagen,

Katherine Geist, Kayla Griffith, Morgan Gostel,

Billie  Gould,  Eric  Jones,  Caitlin  Lee,  Chase

Mason,  Allison  Mastalerz,  Kelly  O’Donnell,

Amber  Paasch,  Taina  Price,  Jeremy  Rentsch,

Janna  Rose,  Emily  Sessa,  Kate  Sidlar,  Emily

Stewart, and Kevin Weitemier.  

The  American  Society  of  Plant  Biologists 

sponsored:  Veria  Alvaredo,  Shajahan  Anver,

Elena Batista, Nathan ButlerErica Fishel, Emily

Merewitz,  Mona  Monfared,  Christos  Noutsos,

Shayani Pieris, Marites Sales, Scott Schaeffer, and 

Mon-Ray Shao.

Thank you for your valuable mentoring 

contributions.  Thanks also for serving as a key 

link between the teachers and group of mentors 

working with teams in that class.   Your extra efforts 

are a big boost to the PlantingScience community!

Call for 2012-2013 Applications

The MPST is designed to provide compensation 

for a cohort of graduate students and post-doctoral 

researchers who make a substantial contribution 

as an online mentor during an academic year.  To 

support your extra efforts, there are extra benefits 

and support systems.  MPST members receive free 

membership to the BSA for the year commitment 

and 50% off meeting registration fees.

BSA Science Education 

News and Notes

BSA Science Education News and Notes is a quarterly update about the BSA’s education efforts and the 

broader education scene.  We invite you to submit news items or ideas for future features.  Contact:  Claire 

Hemingway, BSA Education Director, at or Marshall Sundberg, PSB Editor, at

Joining the 2012-2013 team involves:

•  participating in online mentorship training
•  mentoring ~4 student teams via the web 

during BOTH fall and spring sessions (each 

session lasts about 2 months)

•  posting to student teams about three times 

per week

•  providing extra support and facilitating 

communication for one classroom teacher 

and his/her class

Applications are due September 3, 2012.  An 

application is available online at http://www.

If you served as an MPST member previously 

and would like to be considered for the 2012-2013 

year, please submit a new application for this year.

If you’d like to spark scientific curiosity and 

understanding in today’s youth, but the MPST isn’t 

a good fit for you, consider joining as a regular 

PlantingScience mentor:

News about the PlantingScience 


Congratulations to 

Naomi Volain, PlantingScience 

teacher since 2008, for being awarded in 

Massachusetts for the 2011 Presidential Awards for 

Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching 

(  It is a 

well-deserved honor!  

For the second year in a row at the Botany 2012 

conference,  Kara  Butterworth, PlantingScience 

teacher since 2010, shared her high school students’ 

posters about their research projects supported by 

PlantingScience mentors. Her students at Clear 

Creek High School in Colorado greatly enjoyed the 

open inquiry opportunities with C-Fern. 

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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

Kara Butterworth and Gabriel Johnson, who has 

mentored some of her teams, share a laugh and 

some C-Fern growth tips.

Many thanks to the teachers and mentors 

taking part in the July focus group meeting: Kara

Butterworth, Martha Cook, Ben Gahagen, Sean

Hoban,  Betty  Indriolo,  Monica  Lewandowski,

Kim  Parfitt,  Eric  Ribbens,  Andrew  Schnabel,

Naomi  Volain,  and  Dick  Willis. How fortunate 

the program is to have such high-quality teachers 

and mentors. The chance to bring you together was 

incredibly fun and valuable. Your input about future 

program directions and website redesign will help 

ensure that the program serves the community’s 

needs. We’ll have more to report following the next 

stakeholder meeting this November.

Another new development for the community 

this summer is the formation of an Inquiry Task 

Force to review proposals for new inquiry module 

development.  This group includes members of 

several of the society partners: BSA, American Society 

of Plant Biologists, American Phytopathological 

Society, and Ecological Society of America. 



We are excited about beginning this collaboration to 

broaden and deepen the plant inquiry topics available 

to middle and high schools.  View the aims and call 

for proposals at



Education Bits and Bobs

Improving Undergraduate 

Education with Discipline-Based 

Education Research

Research on undergraduate teaching and 

learning in physics, chemistry, engineering, 

and biology represents a collection of related 

research fields.  While there is much to investigate 

about how students learn concepts in specific 

science fields and transfer their understandings, 

a recent report has findings that hold across the 

disciplines.  Undergraduate students hold incorrect 

understandings about fundamental concepts, 

particularly when large or small scales of time and 

space prevent direct observation of phenomena. 

Students also tend to focus on superficial aspects 

of a problem and struggle with graphs and other 

domain-specific representations.  Student-centered 

approaches can enhance learning more than 

traditional lectures. Considering instructional 

approaches by faculty across the nation, science 

and engineering faculty are the least likely to use 

student-centered and the most likely to lecture in 

their classrooms.  The National Research Council 

report, “Discipline-Based Education Research: 

Understanding and Improving Learning in 

Undergraduate Science and Engineering,” chaired 

by BSA At-Large Education Director Susan Singer, 

includes recommendations to increase the use and 

recognition of discipline-based education research:

Naomi Volain with U.S. Secretary of Education 

Arne Duncan and Deputy Director of the National 

Science Foundation Cora Marrett.

Science Scores Edge Up Slightly, 

but Grasp of Science Still Shallow

Eighth graders scored two points higher in 2011 

than 2009 according to The Nation’s Report Card: 

Science 2011. Additional good news included a 

narrowed gap in scores between some racial groups 

and a higher percentage of students who indicated 

they liked science. A statistic unchanged across 

years is the disappointing finding that some 27% 

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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

of 8th graders reported doing hands-on science 

activities once/twice a month or never.  A related 

study looking more closely into how students 

assessed in 2009 perform hands-on and interactive 

computer science activities showed shallow 

understanding and applying concepts.  Students are 

particularly challenged by investigations containing 

multiple variables to manipulate and requiring 

decision making to collect appropriate data and 

explain their results.


Implementing Vision and 

Change at the Introductory 

Biology Level

This was the title of a conference, held June 

28th-July 1st, in Washington D.C. as part of an 

NSF-sponsored program for “Using scientific 

societies as change agents for the introductory 

biology experience.” The BSA was well represented, 

beginning with former Education Committee 

chairman, Gordon Uno, who is PI on the 

Introductory Biology Project grant.  Gordon 

opened the meeting with an overview of the project 

and left us with a challenging question, “Why hasn’t 

this been fixed before?”  Most of the sessions for the 

next three days focused on the various components 

that must be integrated to actually accomplish a 

“fix.”  Susan Singer, the BSA’s At-large Director for 

Education, led off the first afternoon with a report 

from the National Research Council on “Discipline-

based education research: Understanding and 

improving learning in undergraduate science and 

engineering.” Marsh Sundberg represented the 

Society in the breakout session on “The role of 

scientific societies in transforming the introductory 

biology experience” and later presented a break-out 

session paper: “The wheel of biological instruction 

in the United States: 200 years of reinvention!” 

Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology 

Education is an initiative sponsored by the 

American Association for the Advancement of 

Science and supported by the National Science 

Foundation.  Its vision is to transform patterns of 

biology instruction in colleges and universities to 

take advantage of new understanding about how 

students learn and to implement many of the best 

practices demonstrated to be effective in some of 

the other natural science disciplines.  This will 

require that we change how we teach by focusing 

more on student learning, and less on the content 

we are teaching.  For 200 years biologists have 

been concerned with being more effective teachers, 

but in the last 20 years science educators have 

finally begun to accumulate data supporting their 

convictions.  We are finally heeding the advice of 

one of the BSA’s early leaders, William Ganong, 

who in his 1909 address as retiring President of the 

Society suggested:  “In a word, the first great need of 

our science teaching is to make it scientific.”

During the past month you received an 

invitation to respond to a document identifying 

“Core Concepts in Plant Biology.”  This is part of 

the BSA’s contribution as a scientific society to 

transforming undergraduate biology.  But Vision 

and Change involves more than just outlining the 

core competencies of the curriculum.  It involves 

using some of the pedagogies inspired by Amos 

Eaton (see PSB 57 (4)) and Charles Bessey (p. 114 

this issue) that are considered “best practices” today.  

It follows Ganong’s advice to make teaching more 

scientific by assessing student learning in a rigorous 

way.  It involves professional development for faculty 

members to hone their teaching skills and learn new 

ones and it requires that faculty be rewarded for 

their efforts, both in home institutions and in their 

professional society.  The BSA is already among 

the leading societies in promoting and recognizing 

student research (both undergraduate and 

graduate), encouraging participation of community 

college faculty, and providing recognition for 

educational excellence.  Do your part to help make 

“this fix” work!



-Marsh Sundberg, BSA representative to the 


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Editors Choice Reviews

Investigating the Influence of 

Karrikins on Seed Germination.  De 

Beer, Josef.  2012.  American Biology 

Teacher 74(5): 324-329.

Karrikins are a cellulose derivative produced by 

burning and found in smoke.  They have recently 

been shown to stimulate germination of some 

seeds.  The author has his students do a brief 

literature review of karrikins and then, using 

stimulating questions, challenges students to 

design appropriate investigations to answer their 


Recognising Differences in Weed 

and Crop Species. Recognition 

Skills of Agriculture Students.  Bur-

rows, Geoffry, E.  2012. Bioscience 

Education. 19-9. 

Burrows, Geoffrey E. 2012. Bioscience Education 

19. Available online at http://www.bioscience.

Burrows has provided another example of using 

high-quality digital images to help students learn 

plant identification, in this case about two dozen 

crop and weed species.  More importantly, this 

study is longitudinal with (mostly rural) students 

tested before instruction, after instruction in a class 

emphasizing plant identification, and four months 

after completion of that class.  Some surprises:  1) 

there was not a big difference between urban and 

rural students—all did poorly on the pre-test; 2) 

the greatest gains were subsequent to the course 

for students enrolled in other applied courses that 

made use of the ability to identify plants.  

Red Onions, Elodea, or Decalci-

fied Chicken Eggs? Selecting and 

Sequencing Representations for 

Teaching Diffusion and Osmo-

sis.  Lankford, Deanna and Patricia 

Friedrichsen.  2012American Biology 

Teacher 74(6): 392-399.

We all have some favorite examples for 

demonstrating diffusion and osmosis.  Lankford 

and Friedrichsen have summarized many of these, 

macroscopic, microscopic, and virtual, with a 

summary of pros and cons of each.  You’ve probably 

tried most of these, but perhaps not all—so here is 

a chance to look for a new example or two.  You 

might want to especially consider one of the several 

virtual activities in the public domain that are listed.

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young son lived the next 6 years near her parents’ 

home in Aspen Park, near Conifer, Colorado.

On October 23, 1877, Elizabeth McIntyre Cowen 

married Enos Throop Hotchkiss in Denver. Enos 

was a close friend of Elizabeth’s husband, Jacob, 

and from 1864 to 1871 owned property in the same 

location where the senior Jacob Cowen resided. 

Elizabeth and 6-year-old Jacob (Jake) then moved 

to Enos Hotchkiss’ log cabin near Powderhorn, 

Colorado, where Enos owned a ranch and a toll 

road to Lake City.

In 1882 young Jake moved with his family to 

the North Fork Valley, again into a small cabin. 

He attended high school in Delta, and with Ada 

McMurry was the first to graduate from that school. 

He attended Colorado Agricultural College (CAC), 

now Colorado State University, in Fort Collins. He 

helped form the Columbian Literary Society and a 

competitive oratorical group. He achieved the rank 

of major in the Reserve Officer’s Training, and was 

captain of the CAC football team. Jake graduated at 

the head of his class of seven students in 1894 with 

a degree in botany.

Jacob took a post-graduate course in 1894-1895, 

after which he accepted the position of instructor 

of botany and horticulture at CAC. He was one 

of three men who began the herbarium at CAC. 

His  large collection of Colorado plants became 

the foundation of one of the first floras for the 

state. One species was named in honor of Jacob, 

The Jacob Hoover Cowen 


On June 23, 2012, Mrs. Carolyn Sue Savage Hall 

opened the Jacob Hoover Cowen Herbarium in 

Hotchkiss, Colorado.  The Herbarium is located at 

the corner of 2nd Street and Hotchkiss Avenue in 

Hotchkiss in the VFW room of the building (13111 

Wolf Park Road, Hotchkiss, CO; 970-872-7777.  

Soon there will be a website for the Herbarium. 

The goal of the Jacob Hoover Cowen Herbarium 

is to make the extraordinarily diverse world of 

Delta County wild plants, as well as from 


counties/watersheds (including  Black Mesa, Grand 

Mesa, Black Canyon, parts of the Muddy Creek 

Drainage, and the Uncompahgre), 

available to the 

widest range of people possible from scientists with 

PhDs to the youngest plant enthusiast, encouraging 

both to explore plants from the rare and endangered 

to the common and plentiful.

Carolyn Sue started officially collecting and 

mounting specimens in 2006. She has been 

interested in plants and their identification most 

of her life. While she is mostly self taught, she 

has taken various identification classes and was 

awarded Certificate of Master Naturalist from 

Gore Range Natural Science Center (now Walking 

Mountain Science Center) in Avon, Colorado.  She 

also took an online course in Botany from Santa 

Barbara Community College with Prof. Robert 

Cummings.  She continues to study online and 

from books she acquires. 

The Herbarium presently has almost 300 

different species, including rare and endangered 

ones.  Plants in the Herbarium have been verified or 

identified by curator Jennifer Ackerfield, Colorado 

State University (CSU) at Ft. Collins, or Ron 

Harmon, curator of Rocky Mountain Herbarium at 

the University of Wyoming. A specimen of record 

is kept and housed in the herbarium at CSU

 as well 

as herbaria in the Paonia and Colbran districts of 

the U.S. Forest Service.

Naming the Herbarium was easy after she 

learned from her friend Mary Hotchkiss Farmer 

about Mary’s ancestor, Jacob Hoover Cowen, and 

the profound impact he had on the botany of 


Jacob Hoover Cowen was born to Elizabeth 

McIntyre and Jacob Hoover Cowen on March 10, 

1872, probably on their property in what is now the 

Ken Caryl Ranch, near Littleton, Colorado. Young 

Jacob’s father died on August 1, 1871, in a horse 

accident before his son was born. Elizabeth and her 

Carolyn Sue Savage Hall holding plant specimens 

from the Jacob Hoover Cowen Herbarium:  Polygala 

subspinosa S. Watson spiny milkwort (left) and Eriogonum 

pelinophilum Reveal.


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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

Geranium atropurpureum var. cowenii (Rydb.) Dorn 

(this is now a synonym for Geranium caespitosum 

E. James).

From 1898 to 1900 Jacob attended Cornell 

University in Ithaca, New York, where he graduated 

with an advanced degree in botany. In 1899 Jake 

was one of the Cornell students who organized 

Gamma Alpha, a graduate scientific fraternity. Also 

that year he published the book, The Geography 

of the Apple in North America. He graduated 

from Cornell with honors and was elected to 

a fellowship in horticulture and agriculture in 

Cornell University for the next year. The fellowship 

would pay $500 and tuition, and required him to 

teach classes 5 hours a week. Jake decided instead 

to accept the chair of horticulture and botany at his 

alma mater in Fort Collins, Colorado. Jacob’s thesis 

is on microfiche in the Cornell University archives.

In July 1900, before he left Ithaca for Colorado, 

he became critically ill. He died on July 12 at age 

28 of peritonitis, the result of a ruptured appendix. 

One article about Jake stated: “…cut short a career 

that promised to illumine the world with the light of 

as rare a genius as was ever given to mortal man…

He attained a personal knowledge of the flora of 

Colorado and the Rocky Mountains by work in the 

field which no other man possessed…”

Missouri Botanical Garden 


 $25,000 Grant for 

Development of Advanced 

Plant Data Collection System

National Park Service’s 

National Center for Preservation 

Technology and Training 

Administers Funding to Preserve 

Historic Resources

(ST. LOUIS): The Missouri Botanical Garden 

has been selected to receive $25,000 from 

the National Park Service’s National Center 

for Preservation Technology and Training 

to develop, test and disseminate a system to 

modernize and streamline the collection of data 

on living collections in its historic landscapes. 

Missouri Botanical Garden’s living collections, in 

addition to providing stunning displays, serve as 

a “living library” for specimen-based research, 

education and conservation and are utilized by 

an extensive network of researchers in the United 

States and around the world. With over 15,000 

documented taxa, the living collection is ideal for 

studies in several disciplines including biodiversity, 

ecology and horticulture. The Garden’s Horticulture 

Division develops and cares for these collections 

to ensure their well being, creates propagation 

protocols, conducts testing to determine cultural 

requirements and ensures these plant collections 

are adequately labeled, interpreted and curated. A 

collections management database facilitates these 

efforts so that the living collection can provide the 

highest possible value for research, conservation 

and education.

Data are typically recorded on paper forms 

and later entered into the database back in the 

office, which is time consuming and prone to 

error. The Garden’s plan is to create new web-

based data collection forms for mobile devices 

(like the iPad), enabling staff to record various 

management tasks, such as tree assessment, plant 

maintenance, or garden inventories, directly into 

the Garden’s collections management database. 

Additional functionality enabled with this grant 

will allow staff to take photos of plants using 

embedded cameras, and the resulting images will 

be linked to corresponding records in the database. 

Funding will also allow quick response (QR) codes 

to be integrated into the collections management 

database, and these codes will be utilized on plant 

labels for inventory management and outreach 

purposes. These features will increase output by 

approximately fifty percent, resulting in more 

comprehensive and accurate information by which 

to manage the living collections.

 “This grant will allow the Missouri Botanical 

Garden to develop, test and disseminate a modern 

data collection system utilizing mobile tablet 

computers and QR code technology, which will 

interface directly with the collections management 

database,” explained Rebecca Sucher, Living 

Collections Manager. “The system will aid in 

preserving historic plants and landscape features at 

the Garden.

The National Park Service’s National Center for 

Preservation Technology and Training supports 

projects that develop new technologies or adapt 

existing technologies to preserve cultural resources. 

For more information about the grants, visit www.

The Missouri Botanical Garden is located at 

4344 Shaw Blvd. in south St. Louis. For general 

information, visit  or call 

(314) 577-5100 (toll-free, 1-800-642-8842).

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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

Grants will depend on travel costs but will 

ordinarily be in the range of several hundred dollars 

to about $5,000.

February 1; notification in May.

Harvard University

Bullard Fellowships In Forest 


Each year Harvard University awards a limited 

number of Bullard Fellowships to individuals in 

biological, social, physical and political sciences to 

promote advanced study, research or integration 

of subjects pertaining to forested ecosystems.   The 

fellowships, which include stipends up to $40,000, 

are intended to provide individuals in mid-career 

with an opportunity to utilize the resources and to 

interact with personnel in any department within 

Harvard University in order to develop their own 

scientific and professional growth.  In recent 

years Bullard Fellows have been associated with 

the Harvard Forest, Department of Organismic 

and Evolutionary Biology and the J. F. Kennedy  

School  of  Government  and  have  worked  in  

areas  of  ecology,  forest management, policy and 

conservation.   Fellowships are available for periods 

ranging from  six  months  to  one  year  after  

September  1st.    Applications  from  international 

scientists, women and minorities are encouraged.   

Fellowships are not intended for graduate students 

or recent post-doctoral candidates.   Information 

and application instructions are available on the 

Harvard Forest web site (http://harvardforest.fas.  Annual deadline for applications is 

February 1st.



Franklin Research Grants

This program of small grants to scholars is 

intended to support the cost of research leading to 

publication in all areas of knowledge. The Franklin 

program is particularly designed to help meet the 

cost of travel to libraries and archives for research 

purposes; the purchase of microfilm, photocopies, 

or equivalent research materials; the costs 

associated with fieldwork; or laboratory research 


Applicants are expected to have a doctorate 

or to have published work of doctoral character 

and quality. Ph.D. candidates are not eligible to 

apply, but the Society is especially interested in 

supporting the work of young scholars who have 

recently received the doctorate.

From $1,000 to $6,000.
October 1, December 1 (December 3 in 2012); 

notification in February and April.

Lewis and Clark Fund for 

Exploration and Field Research 

The Lewis and Clark Fund encourages 

exploratory field studies for the collection of 

specimens and data and to provide the imaginative 

stimulus that accompanies direct observation. 

Applications are invited from disciplines with 

a large dependence on field studies, such as 

archeology, anthropology, biology, ecology, 

geography, geology, linguistics, and paleontology, 

but grants will not be restricted to these fields.

Grants will be available to doctoral students 

who wish to participate in field studies for their 

dissertations or for other purposes. Master’s 

candidates, undergraduates, and postdoctoral 

fellows are not eligible.

American Philosophical 

Society Grants

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Botanical education in the United 

States: Part 2, The nineteenth cen-

tury—Botany for the masses vs. the 

professionalization of botany 

Marshall D. Sundberg

Department of Biological Sciences

Emporia State University

Emporia, KS 66801 

Key words: Bessey, botanical education, 

Eaton, Gray, laboratory instruction, new 

botany, Phelps, student-active learning, 


Received for publication:  28 December, 


Accepted for publication:  28 July, 2012.

doi: 10.3732/psb.1100003

Reports and Reviews


The nineteenth century saw the maturation 

of botany and botanical education, both in the 

United States and abroad. Student-active pedagogy, 

devised by Amos Eaton, was carried on by his 

student Almira Hart Lincoln Phelps, who became 

America’s first “best seller” botany textbook author. 

Her major competitor, Alphonso Wood, soon 

dominated the market by concentrating almost 

exclusively on taxonomy and making it available 

to all school levels. Asa Gray, America’s first 

professional botanist, focused on professionalizing 

the discipline through a profusion of content-

rich botanical textbooks marketed to students 

from elementary grades through college. His 

preeminence attracted money to construct a 

dedicated botany building, including a laboratory, 

and eventually attracted graduate students. The 

“new botany,” championed by Charles Bessey and 

others, began to move American botany toward 

the forefront of botanical research while promoting 

laboratory work and student-active learning at all 

educational levels. This period culminated with the 

founding of the Botanical Society of America. 

Key words: Bessey, botanical education, Eaton, 

Gray, laboratory instruction, new botany, Phelps, 

student-active learning, Wood

As discussed in the initial paper of this series 

(Sundberg, 2011), Amos Eaton was a pivotal 

figure in the development of American botanical 

education. According to Kuslan (1966), prior to 

1839, when the first state normal school for the 

preparation of teachers was founded at Bridgewater, 

Massachusetts, Eaton’s program at Rensselaer was 

the only one in the country specifically preparing 

teachers of science; for botany and the other natural 

sciences, the best school in the country was at 

Rensselaer. The reason for his success was noted in 

his obituary: “The Rensselaer School enabled Prof. 

Eaton to prosecute his favorite plan of teaching 

his classes, by making them experimenters and 

lecturers to each other” (“D,” 1842). However, the 

progress of botanical education, pivoting on Eaton, 

would swing in two different directions.

In one direction, Eaton’s students and followers 

would continue to write and teach botany for 

students, common people, and practical botanists 

working in small towns and rural areas across the 

country. The Enabling Act of 1802 authorized each 

new state to set aside two townships of federal land 

for endowment of a university, thus beginning a 

proliferation of colleges that continued through the 

Jacksonian era. In 1800, 25 colleges existed in the 

United States, and most had a science professor; 

between 1800 and 1830, 44 new colleges were 

founded, and respectable colleges had at least two 

science professors (Rudolph, 1977). This was an age 

of nationalism, both politically and scientifically, 

and the classics-based college curriculum began 

to come under attack. The country was growing 

rapidly, and, particularly on the frontier, a 

democratic sense of individualism and social 

equality prevailed. There was widespread interest 

in learning about the local plants—to stake a claim 

on territory and understand something about 

its agricultural potential (Pauly, 2000). Eaton’s 

student-active approach to teaching would be 

emulated by his disciples, and his classification of 

local flora remained based on the Linnaean system. 

This approach suited the new schools in rural areas 

and on the expanding frontier of the country. 

In the other direction was Asa Gray’s vigorous 

reaction against Eaton and the Linnaean system 

in his effort to professionalize botany and bring 

it to the same level in the United States that his 

contemporaries were achieving in England. Both 

in Europe and America, there was beginning to 

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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

be a distinction between botanists (scientists) and 

botanophiles (enthusiasts). The former tended to 

be men; the latter increasingly were women (Shteir, 

1996). The dichotomy between botanists and 

botanophiles is the focus of the initial sections of 

this paper. 

Near the middle of the century, the Morrill Act of 

1862 stimulated another boom in college building. 

From 1860 to 1870, 175 new colleges were founded, 

and respectable colleges had at least four science 

faculty members (Rudolph, 1977). This led to a new 

focus on using science to solve problems in applied 

areas. In the words of a professor from Greeley, 

Colorado, “The beet root took precedence over 

the Greek root as a subject for study” (Rudolph, 

1977, p. 180). Traditional systematic botany began 

to be replaced by a “new botany” focused on plant 

structure and function, plant growth, and plant 

disease. By the end of the century the new botany 

began, unsuccessfully, to reconcile some of the 

differences between the two earlier camps while it 

modernized the study and practice of botany and 

botanical education.

Almira Hart Lincoln Phelps 

Puts Eaton’s Philosophy into 


Early training as a teacher. 

Eaton’s most famous protégé from Troy 

Seminary was Almira Hart Lincoln Phelps (Figure 

1), the subject of a major biography (Bolzau, 1936), 

a book chapter (Arnold, 1984), and a special paper 

in the American Journal of Botany (Rudolph, 1984). 

Phelps was born Almira Hart on July 15, 1793, 

on a farm near Berlin, Connecticut, about 12 

miles southwest of Hartford. Her familiarity with 

plants from an early age was reflected in her later 

botanical textbooks. Her parents were committed 

to education and independent thinking for all their 

children, including the girls. This was a time of 

expanding economic opportunity in the country, 

and with it came time and inclination for education, 

beginning in the home (Kohlstedt, 1990). As we saw 

with Barton and Hosack, this also was a time when 

science was beginning to be published in journals 

and papers, and science, including the laboratory, 

was being introduced into school and college 

curricula (Sundberg, 2011). Even the general 

public was interested in science and its applications; 

lyceums and public lectures were becoming 

fashionable. This interest in plants was not restricted 

to the New World. Since the 1760s, botany was a 

particularly fashionable pursuit, for both men and 

women, as the European Enlightenment permeated 

polite society and eventually the general culture. 

Particularly in England, women were prolific 

writers of botany books for home schooling and 

Figure 1.  Almira Lincoln Phelps. (Image in public domain.)

informal education. Rousseau’s Letters on the 

Elements of Botany Addressed to a Lady (1787) 

went through eight editions, several of which 

were translated into English (Shtier, 1996). It was 

a ripe time for the spread of botany in America.  

The young Phelps was strongly influenced by her 

older sister, Emma (Hart) Willard, who became 

one of the foremost women’s education reformers 

of the time. By the time she was 10 years old, Phelps 

was attending summer school in Berlin under the 

tutorage of Emma, “who, as was the custom of the 

time, was conducting the summer school while a 

man was master in the winter” (Bolzau, 1936, p. 25). 

In 1810 Phelps moved to Middlebury, Vermont, to 

again study with her sister, now Mrs. Willard, and 

to be tutored in math by Mr. Willard’s nephew, 

John Willard, a student at Middlebury College. Two 

years later she moved to Pittsfield, Massachusetts, to 

study in Nancy Hinsdale’s (one of Phelps’ cousins) 

Academy for Women, and in February 1816, she 

accepted an offer to “take charge” of an academy 

in Sandy Hill, New York. Like many teachers, she 

was accustomed to taking notes from the books 

she read to prepare lessons. Her pedagogical 

innovation was to require students to make written 

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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

offered me the assistance of some manuscripts 

formerly prepared by himself for a similar purpose. 

With so able an advisor as Professor Eaton, the 

encouragement of my sister, the principal of 

this institution, and with no ordinary degree of 

enthusiasm for the science, I commenced preparing 
these lectures for the press” (Lincoln, 1829, p. v).

Phelps had no pretentions of being a scientist—

she was a teacher. She made no claim to making 

any botanical discoveries or innovations but took 

full responsibility for presenting accepted botanical 

facts in the most effective way for students to 

comprehend and learn. But unlike her future 

literary competitors, Alphonso Wood and to 

some degree even Asa Gray, she was familiar with 

and drew on contemporary French and German 

work, even more extensively than on British texts, 

and gave credit to them when due. Bolzau (1936) 

suggested that the general outline of Familiar 

Lectures in Botany (Table 1) was very similar to, 

and probably influenced by, Rousseau’s Elements of 

Botany (available in English translation since 1785). 

Although Rousseau emphasized that students 

should have real material in their hands when 

studying and be guided to observe the necessary 

structures, rather than be taught simply by lecture, 

his syllabus was more like Phelps’ later elementary 

works, with each lesson following an individual 

plant example. Instead, Phelps’ model for Familiar 

Lectures, covering basic anatomy and physiology 

extensively at the beginning of the text, followed the 

abstracts of their textbooks (Bolzau, 1836). Less 

than 2 years later, on October 4, 1817, she married 

Simeon Lincoln, and her teaching career was put 

on hold for motherhood and domestic life until her 

husband’s death in 1823.

After her husband’s death, she moved with her 2 

young daughters to her sister’s new school, the Troy 

Female Seminary, to become a teacher and vice 

principal. More importantly, it was here that she 

came under the influence of Amos Eaton, and this 

brought her to the forefront of botanical education. 

Eaton’s disciple at Troy. 

The Troy Seminary was a flourishing school at 

the time of Phelps’ arrival, with nearly 140 students, 

seven teachers, and three assistant teachers. It 

offered the most extensive curriculum of any 

similar academy in the country, and it included 

lectures on natural philosophy, chemistry, botany, 

and other branches of natural history. The tuition 

fee was $3.00 per course (Bolzau, 1836).

Before 1830, fewer than 25% of female seminaries 

offered botany in their curriculum, and the number 

was even lower for boys’ or co-ed schools (Warner, 

1978; Kohlstedt, 1990; Keeney, 1992). For several 

years, Phelps both studied botany with Eaton and 

taught botany at the seminary. Yet she “found want 

of a suitable book for beginners.” She fleshed out the 

outline of her notes for students and said that after 

discussions with Eaton, “…he urged the necessity of 

some suitable work for beginners, and generously 


Lincoln Phelps







































Total Copies





Table 1. Percent of botany textbooks used in New York secondary schools. Percentages based on Keeney 

(1992, Table 7); number of copies from Ewan (1969).

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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

outline used by earlier American authors, Barton 

and Waterhouse (Sundberg, 2011), who in turn 

were influenced by Linnaeus (1751). Much of the 

plant anatomy and the history of botany in her text 

drew heavily on Mirbel (1815), while the Linnaean 

systematics section followed Eaton. If fact, her plant 

descriptions were taken verbatim from Eaton’s 

manual (1829) with his permission (Lincoln, 1829, 

p. 29). Nevertheless, even in the first edition, she 

acknowledged the natural system of Jussieu (1789) 

with a 13-page description and examples, which 

she said was “highly valuable to those who wish to 

pursue the study of Medicinal Botany” (Lincoln, 

1829, p. 106). The frontispiece was an adaptation 

of Humboldt’s profile of Mt. Chimborazo, showing 

elevational zonation of plants, and she included 

numerous detailed illustrations throughout the 

book. In later editions, she acknowledged Goethe’s 

Metamorphosis of Plants (Goethe, 1790; Lincoln, 


The style of her book, and presumably her 

teaching, reflected a synthesis of some aspects of 

her mentor, Eaton, with a continental approach 

to what Morton (1981) called a “unitary theory of 

plants.” From Eaton she drew the conviction that 

students should study nature directly, either in the 

field, in the laboratory, or in demonstration. For 

this, the study of plants was a distinct advantage 

because “Animals, though affording the most 

striking marks of designing wisdom, cannot be 

dissected and examined without painful emotions. 

But the vegetable world offers a boundless field of 

inquiry, which may be explored with the most pure 

and delightful emotions.” (Lincoln, 1836, p. 15). But 

unlike Eaton, whose textbook was solely a manual, 

Phelps saw the need to provide students with more 

background about the structure and function 

of plants. Furthermore, basic botany should be 

integrated throughout instruction. She wrote: “It 

has been customary among botanical writers, to 

consider under separate heads, the physiology, 

anatomy and classification of plants. This division, 

although proper in minute investigations upon 

physiology and anatomy, seems not well adapted 

for a school book. I have not therefore attempted to 

keep the departments separate.” It is interesting that 

at the same time, John Lindley, at the University 

of London, was writing a new textbook of botany 

expressing the same philosophical approach and 

the same basic organization (Lindley, 1831). It 

is also interesting that while Lindley made no 

mention of Phelps (although John Torrey wrote the 

introduction to Lindley’s first American edition of 

An Introduction to the Natural System of Botany…

(1831), and so Lindley was likely aware of her work), 

Phelps identified Lindley as one of the few British 

botanists whose works she regularly consulted. 

This lack of acknowledgement might have been 

an outcome of Lindley’s efforts to professionalize 

botany. In his inaugural address to the University 

of London, he said, “It has been very much the 

fashion of late years, in this country, to undervalue 

the importance of this science [botany], and to 

consider it an amusement for ladies rather than 

an occupation for the serious thoughts of man” 

(Lindley, 1829, p. 17). It may also have been part of 

an effort in England to segregate amateur collectors 

and naturalists from aristocratic professionals 

(Secord, 1994; Shtier, 1996). 

Because she was writing a text to complement 

her student-active teaching, Phelps also rejected 

the popular style of textbook, written to be read 

aloud and memorized for later recitation—the 

normal method of instruction at the time (compare 

with Asa Gray below). 

…[F]rom experience in teaching others, and from 

observation of the operations of my own mind, I 

am led to believe that books most remarkable for a 

concise style, are not the most favourable [sic] for the 

development of the mind. If a book is to be committed 

to memory, every word, member of a sentence, or 

idea, not absolutely essential, should be excluded; 

but this fact with regard to education seems now to 

be generally understood, that the memory may be 

burdened without improving the other intellectual 

faculties, and that the best method of teaching is that 

which tends most to develop, fertilize, and strengthen 

the mind….It is desirable that school books should 

be easy to teach, and easy to learn. (Lincoln Phelps, 

1831, pp. v-vi) 

Phelps believed that the ideal textbook had three 

main attributes. First, the topics should be arranged 

in a clear and logical fashion to develop student 

understanding, not just factual memorization. 

Major concepts should be covered in enough depth 

and detail that students could follow the logic of 

development. Second, the language used should 

be clear and precise, again to facilitate conceptual 

development. In this regard, it is interesting to 

note that the Flesch-Kincaid reading level of her 

textbook would be considered appropriate for 

high school seniors and college freshman today 

(Figure 2; Table 2). Any technical terms should be 

explained as they were used. Finally, writing style 

should be pleasing and easy to follow with the use 

of interesting examples and illustrations. With 

these guidelines in mind, Phelps produced the first 

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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

Table 2. Comparison of mid to late nineteenth century U.S. botanical textbooks with Sachs’ German text-

book of botany.









5 x 8

4.75 x 7.35

5.25 x 8.25

5 x 8

6.5 x 9.5


537 + 15 pp. 

plates and 







reading level 

(grade level)






Lincoln. 1853. Familiar Lectures on Botany. New edition revised and enlarged. 

Wood. 1853. Class-book of Botany. 29th edition. 

Gray. 1853. The Botanical Text-Book. 4th edition.\ 

Bessey. 1883. Botany for High Schools and Colleges. 2nd edition. 

Sachs. 1875. A Text Book of Botany. English translation of 3rd edition.

Figure 2.  Contemporaneous textbooks examined for data in Table 2. Left to right:  Lincoln, 1853, Familiar 

Lectures on Botany, New edition revised and enlarged; Wood, 1853, Class-Book of Botany, 29th edition; 

Gray, 1853, The Botanical Text-Book, 4th edition; Bessey, 1883, Botany for High Schools and Colleges, 2nd 

edition; and Sachs, 1875, A Text Book of Botany, English translation of 3rd edition.

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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

edition of Familiar Lectures on Botany in 1829. This 

book, originally written for use in girls’ seminaries 

but later expanded for a co-educational audience in 

both secondary schools and colleges, went through 

at least 29 editions and 39 printings from 1829 

through 1872. In total, more than 375,000 copies 

were produced (Tables 1, 3).

An interesting pedagogical device Phelps 

employed to aid teachers and students was 

to number sequentially the concepts covered 

throughout the book. It is probable she copied this 

from Linnaeus himself, who used this technique 

in his Philosophia Botanica (1751), and it was 

employed by all her American competitors and 

into the 20th century. Interestingly, it was also used 

in German texts as early as 1806 (Treviranus), but 

it was not used by the French and is found only 

in some later British texts, such as that of Lindley 

Like her female European counterparts, Phelps 

modified the terminology slightly to make it more 

suitable for her audience. For instance, rather than 

“ovary,” she referred to the “germ,” and pollen was 

“a kind of powder.” She expanded slightly on this 

in Lecture 8, “Stamens and Pistils,” when she said, 

“…the important use of this dust in the perfection 

of the fruit we shall soon speak” (p. 80). “In the 

germ are already seeds formed, but these seeds 

require the agency of the pollen to bring them 

to the perfection necessary for producing their 

species” (p. 82). She acknowledged that more detail 

is known from her French source, Mirbel (1815), 

but that there was not time to go further. She began 

to revise the book immediately after publication but 

soon realized that there was too much information 

for younger students, so she wrote a simplified 

version, Botany for Beginners, in 1833. This smaller 

version went through 13 editions and 26 printings 

from 1833 through 1891, with more than 270,000 

copies printed. 

In the early editions, the butterflies, honey bees, 

and other insects assist the wind “in executing 

the designs of nature” (p. 79). By 1836, however, 

Familiar Lectures was more descriptive of the role 

and process of pollination in producing the next 

generation of plants, acknowledging that Linnaeus 

made clear the roles of stamens and pistil. She went 

on to provide a learning moment for students. 

“Facts that when discovered seem so simple, that 

we wonder a child could not have discovered them, 

have eluded the research of great men;—and at 

this moment philosophers are groping for truths, 

which in due time will be elicited and incorporated 

into the elements of science to be learned and 

understood by children” (p. 81). This description of 

the nature of science would be a relevant guide for 

teachers today. With this edition, she considerably 

revised her plant descriptions from those of Eaton, 

which she used in earlier works. In addition, 

numerous species were added. By 1853 the natural 

system was expanded as a 68-page appendix that 

provided an alternative to the Linnaean system, but 

she still preferred the latter for beginners because 

of its ease of use.

Phelps left the Troy Seminary in 1831 and moved 

to Vermont with her second husband, John Phelps, 

for a “retirement” of writing. Seven years later she 

accepted a principalship, and she and her family 

moved to West Chester, Pennsylvania. After 2 years, 

she moved again to the Rathway Institute in New 

Jersey, and finally in 1841 settled at the Patapsco 

Female Institute in Maryland, where she spent the 

rest of her career. Her Familiar Lectures in Botany 

dominated the botanical textbook market during 

the first half of the 19th century (Figure 1), yet 

Ford (1964) relegated her to a single sentence in his 

article on American botany textbooks. As a “faithful 

disciple” of Eaton, she “edited” Eaton’s manual “to 

serve elementary, secondary, and feminine usage…” 

(p. 62). Perhaps Ford was unconsciously reacting to 

one of Phelps’ statements in chapter one carried 

through each edition: “The study of Botany seems 

peculiarly adapted to females” (Lincoln, 1829, p. 12; 

1853, p. 10). Nevertheless, in 1859 she became the 

second woman elected to the American Association 

for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Alphonso Wood, Popularizer 

of the Natural System of 


Producing a proper textbook. 

For such a prolific author of botanical textbooks, 

with more than 10 different titles to his credit, we 

know very little about Alphonso Wood (Figure 3). 

He was born in 1810, the same year as Asa Gray, 

and graduated from Dartmouth, Phi Beta Kappa, 

in 1834, intending to be a school teacher. He had 

no formal training in science but learned about 

plants from lecturers and students in the medical 

school. In 1845 he published the first edition of 

Class-book of Botany. Within 3 years it was in its 

10th edition; it eventually made it to 50 editions 

and sold over 100,000 copies (Lyon, 1945; Table 1; 

Figure 2). Like Eaton and Phelps, Wood’s primary 

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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

interest was in teaching botany (taxonomy), and 

he was concerned that no proper textbook was 

available. In Wood’s view, two major problems 

existed with Phelps’ Lessons in Botany. First, she 

spent too much time covering basic structure and 

function, nearly 300 pages, with only 220 devoted 

to the flora. Second, Phelps still was devoted to the 

Linnaean system, and Wood, like Gray, understood 

that the natural system was more appropriate. On 

the other hand, Gray’s Elements of Botany (1836) 

did not include a flora, and his The Botanical Text-

book (1842), like Phelps’ text, devoted only about 

40% of its pages to the flora. Wood understood 

that he had meager botanical training even though 

he was a devoted amateur plant collector. For this 

reason, he tried unsuccessfully to convince more-

qualified botanists to prepare a suitable textbook 

for secondary schools that would include a manual 

of the plants of the Northeast. Among those he 

approached was Gray himself. “Wood has called 

on me twice. He will I dare say produce something 

rather respectable—much better than anything of 

the Mrs. Lincoln school….that his work may do 

good, I dare say—though the better it prove, the 

more it will affect my own interest. But the field is 

freely open, and I wish him heartily all the success 

his book may deserve” (Gray, 1844).

Gray was indeed prescient. Wood’s book was 

easy to read (compare a reading index of 14, 

today’s college sophomore, with the graduate 

school reading level of Gray’s textbook in Table 

2), inexpensive, and devoted more than 500 of its 

645 pages to the natural system of classification. 

His illustrations were comparable to those found 

in Phelps. The first edition of 1500 privately 

printed copies sold out immediately, and a Boston 

publishing house quickly produced an additional 

3000 copies (Lyon, 1945). Wood had begun to make 

his mark challenging the established authors. In the 

preface of the first edition, he stated his teaching 


That there is need of a new Class-Book of Botany, 

prepared on the basis of the present advanced state 

of the science, and, at the same time, adapted to the 

circumstances of the mass of students collected in our 

institutions and seminaries of learning, is manifest to 

all who now attempt either to teach or to learn. The 

time has arrived when Botany should no longer be 

presented to the learner encumbered with the puerile 

misconceptions and barren facts of the old school, 

but as a System of Nature, raised by recent researches 

to the dignity and rank of a science founded upon 

the principles of inductive philosophy...; That theory 

of the floral structure which refers each organ to 

the principles of the leaf, long since propounded in 

Germany by the poet Goethe, and recently admitted 

by authors generally to be coincident with facts, is 

adopted, of course, in the present work.

His textbook featured a simple key to classes that 

led to orders (our families), each of which had its 

own key to genera. Each genus had a generalized 

description, including vegetative as well as floral 

characteristics. Species were listed alphabetically, 

and each species entry included the common 

name and a complete English description, again 

including vegetative as well as floral parts in 

addition to time of flowering. “Without the talents 

nor the advantages of Gray, [Alphonso Wood] 

competed successfully in the textbook field” (Ewan, 

1969, p. 44). Within a few years of its appearance, 

Wood’s  Class-book eliminated Eaton’s market and 

severely cut into Phelps’. In 1845 Gray himself 

complained to Torrey “…Wood is just taking the 

market, against my ‘Botanical Textbook,’ mostly 

by means of his ‘Flora’.” The reasons are apparent 

from the testaments published at the end of Wood’s 

text (1853)—the lack of a suitable flora was just one 


Figure 3. Alphonso Wood. (Image in public domain.)

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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

Wood’s Botany evidently embodies more traits of 

excellence and usefulness than any one of the various 

elementary treatises in general use. In some of these, 

the preliminary principles of the science are unduly 

expanded; from others, they are nearly or quite 

excluded. Mr. Wood’s work combines a concise and 

lucid exposition of primary principles, with ample 

illustrations of the science, drawn from the Flora of 

our own immediate section. 

—From Messrs. Peck, Newman, and Wentworth, 

of Troy Conference Academy.

I am highly gratified that at last we have an 

excellent Class-Book of Botany, by Mr. Wood. We 

have been almost obliged to abandon the study of 

Botany in our Colleges and Academies for several 

years, in consequence of the want of a suitable work 

as a text-book for students. In this work of Mr. Wood, 

we have a desideratum supplied, certainly excellent, 

with an arrangement beautifully simple, and even 


—From Ebenezer Emmons, Prof. Natural History 

in Williams College 

It is interesting that several testimonials, 

including one of the above, came from Williams 

College, Amos Eaton’s alma mater, and that the 

botanical reputations of both Eaton and Phelps 

were founded in Troy, New York, the location 

of Troy Conference Academy. Clearly personal 

association was not a factor in textbook selection, 

though it may have been a factor for Wood in 

selecting advertising testimonials.

Expanding his range.

With his success, Wood began to travel, add 

to his collections, and use the work of others 

to expand the range covered by his manual. A 

particular irritant to Gray was that Wood made his 

own species determinations of any new collections 

without reference to either Gray or John Torrey. 

Each edition added a few new species, but, with the 

exception of the major revision of the 1861 edition, 

each edition was virtually a copy of the previous. 

Eventually, between 800,000 and 1 million copies 

were sold (Ewan, 1969). While Gray and many 

other professional botanists saw the Class-book 

as too elementary, it proved to be a success in the 

colleges. “The whole science,” wrote Prof. G. H. 

Perkins, of Vermont University, “so far as it can be 

taught in a college course, is well presented, and 

rendered unusually easy of comprehension. I regard 

the work as most admirable” (Wood, 1870, p. ii). 

With his success in the college market established, 

Wood went on to produce new books targeting the 

elementary and secondary schools. First Lessons in 

Botany (1851) was a small (6¼ x 5 inches) volume 

summarizing the major topics of the Class-book 

in much simplified form with many illustrations. 

The principles of education, enumerated in the 

introductory “Suggestions to Teachers,” were a 

reflection of Eaton’s and Phelps’ approach. First, 

“ the study of any science, the discipline of the 

mind is an attainment of at least equal value with 

the acquisition of knowledge.” Second, difficult 

concepts should not be avoided, but enough detail 

should be provided to make them understandable. 

And third, “…the first lessons which children learn, 

since they are most likely to be permanent, should 

contain truth, however small the portion, neither 

simplified to childishness nor glossed over with 

error” (p. 5). He went on to provide a script of a 

teacher interacting with 10 pupils for a new teacher 

to use to introduce the study of botany on the first 

day of class. The New American Botanist and Florist 

(1870), Wood’s Illustrated Plant Record (1877), and 

Fourteen Weeks in Botany (1879a) were targeted to 

secondary schools. Botanist and Florist was based 

on the Class-book, with a slightly simplified first 

half. A new feature was a series of synoptical tables 

that outlined and integrated the main concepts of 

several chapters and that were “intended for the 

blackboard.” This was a new aid for both the teacher 

and pupil to facilitate understanding and memory. 

Wood’s Illustrated Plant Record was essentially a 

laboratory notebook for taxonomy. It began with 

an extensive, illustrated glossary of botanical terms 

followed by about 50 two-page specimen check 

tablets. Each tablet was a checklist of descriptive 

terms, organized by organ or by the key characters 

identified on a single specimen. At the back of the 

book was a label for collection data, classification, 

and remarks—essentially a specimen label for that 

plant. At the end was an index template for students 

to organize the materials documented in their 

check tablets. Fourteen Weeks in Botany was part of 

a “Fourteen Weeks” series in the natural sciences 

known for their simplicity. To accompany Fourteen 

Weeks, Wood prepared an equally short text, How 

to Study Plants (1879b). This book consisted of 73 

chapters, each focusing on a single species with 

one page consisting of illustrations of the plant 

and diagnostic parts and a second providing an 

analysis of the key characters and classification. At 

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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

medical books, and while there, he left some plant 

specimens for John Torrey. Gray received his M.D. 

degree later in 1830 and began practicing medicine 

to earn money to support his botanizing habits, 

which included periodic teaching appointments at 

local academies and lyceums. 

Two years later, Gray and Torrey finally met on a 

collecting trip to the New Jersey Pine Barrens and 

thus began a life-long friendship and collaboration. 

This was a period of both social and botanical 

unrest in American history. Andrew Jackson was 

recently elected President of the United States, 

and the founding political parties were in retreat. 

The nation was in an egalitarian mood. Eaton 

was convinced that although the natural system 

rising in Europe was “…the grand climacteric in 

botanical science” (Eaton, 1836, p. iv), the Linnaean 

approach was preferable for introducing botany to 

the masses. He also thought it was better suited to 

his educational approach of field and laboratory 

inquiry at the introductory level. Thus, he retained 

Linnaeus’ classification in all the revisions of his 

manual. Gray, influenced by Torrey, was convinced 

not only of the botanical superiority of the natural 

the beginning were two pages of instructions for 

teachers. Perhaps more significant than the text 

itself, Wood, like Eaton, saw the need to prepare 

teachers to teach effectively. The last edition of this 

text, published posthumously in 1895, was subtitled 

An Illustrated Flora for Teachers’ Reading Circles. 

Four years later, Ganong (1899) would publish the 

first full textbook dedicated to how to teach botany.

The reaction of professional botanists to Wood 

and his books was summed up by Moses Curtis 

(1857) who asked, “How is it, that the most 

profitable Text Books are prepared by sciolists?...

[he] will make a four months’ tour through the 

South,—in winter too—take a rapid survey of a 

locality or two in each State…pump every collector 

who will submit to the operation…[giving the 

book] an appearance of singular authenticity.” The 

Botanical Gazette summed it up in Wood’s obituary 

notice: “As a scientific botanist his work can never 

rank very high, but as an educator his name will 

always be remembered” (Obituary notice, 1881).

Asa Gray and the 

Professionalism of American 


Botanical training.

In 1964, Ford suggested that “…what was 

published in America in the way of botanical texts, 

prior to Gray’s ascendancy was inconsequential” 

(p. 62). Asa Gray was the preeminent American 

botanist of his day, but he was only an ordinary 

teacher (Figure 4). Nevertheless, his impact on 

botanical education was enormous thanks to the 

series of textbooks he produced. Gray was born 

in 1810 in Sauquoit, on the upstate New York 

frontier. He began to attend the district school early 

and became an avid reader. At 13 years old, Gray 

enrolled in the nearby Hamilton College, where he 

studied the traditional classics for 2 years. In 1825 he 

transferred to Fairfield Academy. We do not know 

what classes he took, but the third-year curriculum 

approved for the Academy in 1808 included botany 

and materia medica as required courses (Dupree, 

1959, p. 9). After only a year, Gray again transferred, 

this time to the College of Physicians and Surgeons 

of the Western District of New York, where he took 

classes in chemistry, mineralogy, and botany from 

Dr. James Hadley. In 1828 Gray bought a copy of 

Eaton’s (1822) Manual and began collecting plants 

in earnest. The summer before graduation, his 

internship supervisor sent Asa to New York to buy 

Figure 4.  Asa Gray in 1857. (Image in public domain.)

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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

system but also of its place in the curriculum. 

Already in 1833, he wrote to Torrey complaining 

that in his current teaching position “…the principal 

wishes to retain too much of the Eatonian plan to 

suit me” (Gray, 1833). It is not clear whether he was 

referring to Eaton’s use of the Linnaean System, 

Eaton’s student-active approach to teaching, or 

both. Later that year he expressed his attitude 

toward teaching: “I have just finished at Hamilton 

College a long tedious course” (Dupree, 1968, pp. 

40-41). The animosity of Gray toward Eaton would 

continue until the latter’s death in 1842. 


Elements of Botany.

As early as 1835, Gray was convinced that he 

had to write an American botanical textbook with 

content equivalent to that found in European 

texts but smaller, less intensely illustrated, and 

more affordable than was available from abroad 

(Gray, 1836, p. x). Phelps’ and Eaton’s books were 

completely unacceptable because of their use of 

the Linnaean system; at least Phelps included basic 

botany at the beginning of her text, but it was too 

elementary. Torrey warned Gray that it would take 

more than a few months to write such a textbook. 

This was a prescient observation. Elements of 

Botany, like others of Gray’s books, would turn out 

to be a much more time-intensive writing task than 

he anticipated. It is interesting that Gray was driven 

by an ulterior motive—supplemental income. 

Medicine was always a possible fallback, but at this 

stage of his career, he was functionally an assistant 

to Torrey and/or a part-time instructor of botany. 

The following year, Elements of Botany (1836) 

was published. Not unlike Phelps, Gray felt that the 

“whole science of Botany rests on the foundation 

of vegetable organography and physiology” (p. 

296), so it was important for students to have a 

solid foundation in structure and function before 

applying these skills to natural classification. 

The first four chapters covered morphology and 

physiology, the fifth treated the flowerless plants, 

and the final chapter treated the flowering plants. 

This book was 438 pages long compared with 340 in 

Phelps; both were well illustrated. It did not include 

a flora, nor was it written at an introductory level, 

and both these factors were detractions compared 

with his competition’s textbook (Table 1).

 In 1837 Gray was offered a faculty position at 

Louisiana College in Jackson, Louisiana, but with 

new income from his textbook and his part-time 

work, he declined the offer of $1500 per year. He 

wrote his father simply, “I do not like the Southern 

States” (Gray, 1837). The next summer, however, 

he accepted a position as botanist at the University 

of Michigan. This was the first time in America 

that a professor was hired specifically as a botanist 

(Dupree, 1959). His first responsibility was to travel 

to Europe to purchase books and equipment for 

the new university. Most of his time was spent in 

England, where he worked and lived for a time 

with William and Joseph Hooker, becoming an 

especially good friend of the younger Joseph. In 

London he met and worked with Robert Brown, 

who introduced him to George Bentham, Charles 

Lyell, Richard Owen, and Charles Darwin. He was 

not impressed with the English universities: “I 

can’t express … the profound contempt I feel for 

the English University system of education.” There 

was simply not enough science. Even so, with the 

exception of de Candolle in Switzerland, he was 

less impressed with what he saw while visiting the 

botanists on the continent.

First American professional 


While Gray was in Europe, America was 

experiencing the worst economic downturn in its 

short history, the Panic of 1837. On his return to 

Michigan in 1840, with the books and equipment 

purchased in Europe, he was asked to forgo his 

salary for a year until the financial situation 

improved. With time on his hands, and a renewed 

need for income, he began a new textbook. Elements 

of Botany was out of print, and its publisher was out 

of business. In 1842 The Botanical Textbook was 

published, and Gray was offered a $1000 salary as 

Fisher professor of natural history at Harvard but 

with his responsibilities restricted “…to instruction 

and lecturing in Botany and to the superintendence 

of the Botanic Garden….” (Dupree, p. 110). Gray 

and his Harvard colleague, the historian Jared 

Sparks, were the first college faculty members 

to have limited classroom obligations so as to do 

their own research (Rudolph, 1977). His new book, 

The Botanical Textbook, was basically a revision 

of  Elements of Botany; the major difference was 

a formal division of the content into two major 

parts: part I, an introduction to structural and 

physiological botany, and part II, the principles 

of systematic botany. Embracing Goethe’s 

philosophical doctrine of morphogenesis, the total 

number of pages, 413, was actually slightly reduced 

from The Elements of Botany, but its reading level 

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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

perfectly and thus make a squirt” (DuPree, 1959, p. 

123). According to Bessey, even in 1872, “The more 

nearly that the student’s answer corresponded word 

for word with the text, the better was his recitation 

considered to be” (E. Bessey, 1934-1935, p. 228.). 

Gray’s difficulties presenting botany were not 

restricted to the classroom but were also evident 

in public lectures. “Dr. Gray is a poor speaker, but 

his facts are very interesting, & his illustrations by 

paintings are beautiful” (DuPree, 1959, p. 130). 

Unlike Eaton or John Torrey, Gray did not enjoy 

presenting botany to the general public, and he 

stopped doing so after 1844. 

While he was confined by the system to a dull 

recitation format for his freshman students, Gray 

had more latitude in his elective upper-level course. 

Here he made extensive use of large illustrations 

(originally prepared for public lectures) and 

provided a general outline with only major 

headings and significant ideas written down. But to 

elaborate on ideas, he would write them out in full. 

In 1847 and 1849, Gray offered a special month-

long advanced training of “particular instruction 

in botany, with microscopical illustrations” at the 

botanic garden. These were the first steps toward 

both upper-level botanical laboratory training and 

graduate training in the U.S. 

But innovations in classroom teaching were not 

his forte. Instead, he focused on his textbooks. 

was not reduced (Table 2, Figure 2). According to a 

reviewer, “With this Text Book in their hands, the 

teachers of botany in our seminaries may speedily 

elevate the study [of botany] to its legitimate rank 

among the natural sciences” (Darlington, 1842).

Finally, in the spring of 1843, Gray, a hesitant 

speaker, stood in front of a classroom as a full-time 

teacher for the first time in nearly 10 years. At that 

time Harvard was following the “scale of merit” 

system whereby an instructor had to grade each 

student during each class meeting. This approach 

encouraged drilling and rote memorization. Gray 

organized his course by dividing the class into four 

sections, with each one meeting in one recitation 

per week. Gray’s self-assessment was that he was 

“pretty good at questioning” and would “give them 

plenty of illustration, explanation, and ideas not 

in the book” (Gray, 1843). At least one student, 

however, had a quite different opinion, writing 

that “the matter was very good…the manner was 

positively shocking. I never saw a person more 

awkward in delivery” (DuPree, 1959, p. 123). Four 

years of experience did not seem to improve Gray’s 

delivery. In 1848 another student referred to the 

predictable manner of Gray’s recitations, admitting 

that he “did not study much on my Botany.… The 

way that I and in fact by far the greatest part of the 

class do is to read their lesson over once and get 

it in the recitation room…as we can tell about on 

what part we shall be taken up, we can get that part 

Numbers of Authors

Quarter of the 


Number of 



of Authors: 









































Reproduced,  from Stuckey and Burk, 2000, p. 73, with permission from the Botanical Research Institute of 


Table 3. Numbers of botany textbooks in the United States (1800-1899), based on 390 unique printings, by 


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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

Because of his research, he was now recognized as 

the greatest professional botanist in America, and 

this authority would spread his influence, even 

if it did not at first help sell books (Table 1). As 

mentioned above, Alphonso Wood was a follower 

of Gray’s promotion of the natural system, and he 

actually encouraged Gray to write an introductory 

text using that system. However, Wood found 

The Botanical Textbook to be unacceptable for his 

purposes. He saw no need for the basic botany, 

certainly not half the book, and there was not 

enough detail in the systematics section. Publication 

of Wood’s Class-book of Botany in 1845 was a 

warning shot to Gray and Gray’s ambition to raise 

the standard of American botanical instruction. 

Gray’s revision of The Botanical Textbook came out 

the same year, but it quickly became evident that 

Wood’s was more popular. Gray’s solution was not 

to expand the Textbook but to write an entirely new 

book meant to directly out-compete Wood. The 

first Manual of Botany (1848) came out 3 years later. 

In 1857 Gray moved into the high school 

market with First Lessons in Botany and Vegetable 

Physiology. The focus was structure and function, 

much as was the first part of The Botanical Textbook. 

The terminology and content were reduced to be 

more appropriate for a lower level. Gray noted 

that it was intended for common schools and 

high schools, although it could be used as an 

introduction to botany in colleges, where it would 

provide the foundation for using the Manual. He 

noted that those wishing additional information 

about general botany should consult The Botanical 

Textbook. Elementary students got their textbook 

the following year—How Plants Grow (Gray, 

1858a). According to Keeney, choice of textbook 

for schools in the 1860s and 1870s was a regional 

preference. Wood remained popular in New York 

and the East, while Gray became the standard in 

the Midwest. Such regional differences also were 

starting to percolate up to the college level as 

discussed below (Table 3).

Gray must have been a bit embarrassed for 

spending valuable research time writing elementary 

textbooks. In 1858 he wrote George Bentham, “My 

last book in elementary botany is now just off my 

hands, and will be out in a fortnight. I hope it will 

be of use. Forgive me for writing horn-books, and 

I am now done with that sort of work. There were 

several convincing reasons for doing it.” (Gray, 

1858b). Dupree suggested that a factor influencing 

all Gray’s textbook writing was supplemental 

income, $500-$600 per year on a flat-fee basis, and 

this, apparently, was common for college faculty 

(Kohlstedt, 1990). For whatever reason, Gray 

persisted in his textbook writing. He published 

an even smaller companion volume to How Plants 

Grow in 1872 titled How Plants Behave.

A graduate program.

The year 1857 is when Darwin revealed to Gray 

that he was writing his “big book” on species, 

but it also was another milestone for Gray and 

for botanical education: his last year without a 

graduate student. For the first 15 years of his tenure 

at Harvard, not a single student earned a graduate 

degree in botany. The following year, 1858, Gray 

accepted his first graduate student. Ironically, it 

was a student who already had a well-developed 

appreciation of plants. His name was Daniel Cady 

Eaton, the grandson of Gray’s nemesis, Amos 

Eaton. Daniel had learned systematic botany while 

completing his bachelor’s degree at Yale. According 

to Dupree (p. 200), “Eaton’s Cambridge training 

shows clearly Gray’s lack of any concept of what a 

graduate school might be. The professor made no 

effort to push his student into the higher and more 

technical aspects of science or give him an overall 

view of the field of botany. The degree requirements 

were for undergraduates and not well adapted for 

graduate work….” Eaton, after earning his degree 

with Gray, returned to Yale to become the second 

full-time professor of botany in America. 

Higher education in the United States changed 

dramatically in 1862 with the Morrill Act 

establishing land-grant universities in every state. 

The Morrill Act was particularly important in the 

Midwest, but it also had an effect at Harvard, where 

it offered the potential for developing the graduate 

program. The new Harvard president requested that 

a plan be devised to reorganize the curriculum of 

the Lawrence Scientific School, Harvard’s graduate 

school of science. Gray was so disappointed with 

the results that he encouraged his friend and 

collector, George Engelmann, to send his son to 

Yale, not Harvard. “We have really—thanks to 

Agassiz and Peirce thwarting all good plans—no 

Scientific School at Cambridge. They have one 

at Yale, but here are separate schools: in one they 

teach Chemistry thoroughly, in one Engineering—

in another [the Lawrence Scientific School] there 

are lectures on Zoology and Geology—of no use to 

a young beginner, and very little to an older hand” 

(Dupree, pp. 315-316). In spite of this, botany 

students began to come to work with Gray. One of 

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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

the first was William James Beal, who came from 

the University of Michigan in 1862 and earned his 

botany graduate degree in 1865. Against Gray’s 

advice, Beal took a position at the new Michigan 

Agricultural College. New and capable students, 

however, did not change Gray’s classroom attitude. 

He wrote to an acquaintance, “…I am so driven, so 

distracted. Bless your stars you are not a professor 

…this year is far worse than ever. Besides the 

bother of my classes, unusually bothering on the 

new arrangement…” (Gray, 1866).

Laboratory instruction.

In 1871 a private donor contributed monies to 

build a new classroom and student laboratory 

building adjacent to the botanical garden building 

to handle the growing number of students 

interested in botany. Although Gray was averse 

to the kind of laboratory instruction Eaton 

promoted at Rensselaer, laboratory space would be 

convenient for students to spread out specimens. It 

is also possible that some space envy was involved. 

“An 1858 Junior elective in chemistry with required 

laboratory work was probably the first Harvard 

course where students worked in a laboratory 

rather than observe a scientific demonstration in a 

lecture hall” (Rudolph, 1977, p. 145). 

That summer Gray offered a special class for 

school teachers in the new building to meet the 

growing demand for new science teachers following 

the Civil War. This was the first summer workshop 

in botany for high school teachers offered—at least 

in the United States. The new building was an 

attraction for the plant physiologist George Lincoln 

Goodale, who left Bowdoin College to join Gray’s 

botany program. Gray could now concentrate on 

morphology and taxonomy while Goodale brought 

physiology up to date. In the laboratory, students of 

morphology and taxonomy were mostly confined 

to filling in checklists of characters, and physiology 

students were introduced to some experimental 

work. The potential for laboratory work must have 

been appealing to students; in 1874 botany became 

the second science at Harvard, a year after physics, 

to require an entrance examination for acceptance 

to the program (Leighton, 1880). Gray and Goodale 

collaborated on The Botanical Textbook beginning 

with the 1879 edition. This was also the year that 

Goodale offered a winter course for teachers on 

how to teach botany (Goodale, 1879; Bessey, 

1880a). The goal of the course was to teach teachers 

how to induce students to learn for themselves and 

do their own thinking. This was accomplished in 

the laboratory by using interesting and attractive 

living plants, asking leading questions to guide 

the student’s inquiry, and directly answering 

only student questions that a student could not 

answer for himself with direct observation. This 

is a good model for inquiry-based learning today. 

Goodale credited Henslow in England, not Bessey 

(see below) and certainly not Amos Eaton, for 

developing this inquiry approach (Henslow, 1858). 

The European influence.

For the rest of his career, Gray continued to 

revise his collection of books, bringing the botany 

up to date in the textbooks and expanding the range 

of species covered in the manuals. He continued 

his close ties to the British botanists, particularly 

Joseph Hooker and Charles Darwin, but even 

though he was aware of the stirrings in Germany, 

they did not have an effect on his teaching or 

writing nor on that of any of the other American 

botanists until the 1870s. This was in part because 

most Americans did not read German (Ford, 1964). 

But English translations of some German botany 

texts appeared quickly, so the language barrier 

suggested by Ford was not a compelling argument. 

It was also because the primary American focus, 

like England’s, was on taxonomy. During the 

middle years of the 19th century, Gray and Hooker 

were leading the professionalization of botany 

in the United States and England, respectively. 

Both were working against the popular stereotype 

that botany was a subject of natural history best 

suited to women (Adams, 1887). Both developed 

centers of plant collection and focused their 

work primarily on systematics. Both recognized 

that an understanding of plant structure was 

essential to be able to recognize natural systematic 

relationships, but morphology and anatomy were 

the handmaidens of taxonomy. 

Quite a different approach was developing on the 

continent and particularly in Germany. As early as 

1849, the second edition of Schleiden’s botanical 

textbook, which strongly emphasized cellular and 

anatomical studies, was translated into English. 

In the early 1860s, the great Hofmeister published 

his 4-volume work Handbuch der Physiologiche 

Botanik. Some considered this to be one of “two 

epoch-making works” influencing botanical 

science; the other was Darwin’s On the Origin of 

Species (Green, 1967, p. 8). Volume 4 of that work 

(1865), was written by the brilliant Julius von Sachs, 

who 9 years later published his own Lehrbuches 

der Botanik (1874, Figure 2). Gray was certainly 

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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

aware of the Lehrbuches because his colleague, 

Goodale, wrote reviews of both the 3rd German 

edition (Goodale, 1873) and its English translation 

(Goodale, 1875) in The American Journal of Science 

for which Gray was an editor. Of the latter Goodale 

said, “This conscientious translation is a valuable 

and timely gift to botanical students.” However, of 

the first section on general morphology he says, 

“Most of this chapter is a literal translation of the 

least satisfactory portion of the third edition.” Of the 

third chapter, in his own area of expertise, Goodale 

says, “The excellence of this digest is apparent on a 

hasty perusal. It becomes more obvious when the 

book is used with advanced students as a handbook 

in daily work.… When it is supplemented by the 

Experimental Physiology of the same author, the 

laboratory is well equipped…. It is a great pleasure 

to commend this volume, most heartily, as a good 

translation of the German hand-book to advanced 

botanical students.” More important than the 

books, however, was that the Germans developed 

a new style of graduate studies that focused on 

laboratory work under the direction of the major 


Hofmeister may have had some influence on the 

overall construction of Gray’s Botanical Textbook

With the 6th edition (1879), Gray’s intent was to 

produce a four-volume compendium of botanical 

science, much as Hofmeister had done nearly 

20 years earlier. He would author the first book, 

on structural botany (Gray, 1879). Goodale was 

responsible for the second book on physiology, 

which was finally produced in 1885. William 

Farlow never published the proposed volume 

3,  Introduction to Cryptogamic Botany, both 

Structural and Systematic, and Gray himself never 

completed volume 4, Sketch of the Natural Orders 

of Phaenogamous Plants: their Special Morphology, 

Useful Products, &c. Sachs, however, did not have 

much of an effect on Gray. Whereas Sachs’ first 

chapter was a detailed description of the plant 

cell, Gray made no mention of cells. Following 

Hofmeister’s (1865) lead, Sachs recognized that 

all plants shared alternation of generations and 

treated cryptogams and phanerogams equally. In 

Gray’s view, “As respects the organs of vegetation, 

the higher classes of cryptogamous plants exhibit 

this same type [as flowering plants]; it is only in the 

most general or in a recondite sense that this can 

be said of their organs of reproduction, and of the 

less differentiated structure of the lowest classes. 

Wherefore cryptogamous plants are left out of the 

present view, to be treated apart” (Gray, 1879, p. 5). 

Most conspicuously absent in Gray was reference 

to evolution and plants through time; Sachs’ last 

chapter was 25 pages on the origin of species. 

Gray’s last textbook, a final revision of Gray’s 

Lessons in Botany, was curiously re-titled The 

Elements of Botany (1887), the title of his first text. 

By this time, dozens of credible botany programs 

existed at American universities around the 

country, but a rift was developing between the old 

East and the new West. Gray still dominated botany 

in the former, but a “new botany” was rising in the 

midwestern land-grant universities, influenced by 

the German model and Sachs’ textbook.

Charles E. Bessey and the New 


Botanical training.

Charles Bessey was born in Ohio in 1845 and 

entered Michigan Agricultural College in 1866, 

the first of the midwestern land-grant institutions 

(Figure 5). The Morrill Act had specified  that each 

state could establish “one college where the leading 

object shall be, without excluding other scientific 

and classical studies, and including military 

tactics, to teach such branches of learning as are 

related to agriculture and the mechanic arts, in 

such manner as the legislatures of the States may 

respectively prescribe, in order to promote the 

liberal and practical education of the industrial 

classes in the several pursuits and professions in 

life (Morrill, 1862). This sounded like a perfect 

fit for Bessey. Unlike in the eastern universities, a 

significant amount of the curriculum was science 

and required a full year of botany in the sophomore 

year (Beal, 1908, p. 89). Bessey later recalled that 

“with the possible exception of Harvard, this 

college [Michigan Agricultural] then gave the 

most extended and thorough course in botany in 

this country” (Bessey, 1908, p. 87). For his degree, 

he completed semester-long courses in systematic 

botany, structural botany, vegetable physiology, 

and horticulture and was employed in the college 

greenhouse. Unfortunately, his classes, even in 

botany, were mostly the traditional textbook reading 

and recitation with some simple dissection to help 

identify plants. His most memorable moment, 

however, was when he was given the cabinet key 

for the Ross compound microscope. “It was never 

taken out for use in class, but always stood there as 

a challenge to us. I do not know what anyone else 

did, but at last I could stand it no longer, and getting 

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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

permission from professor Prentiss, who gave me 

the key to the case, I locked myself in the classroom, 

and taking out the ponderous instrument, looked 

it over, studied its complex machinery, and made 

myself familiar with its structure and use” (Bessey, 

1908, p. 86). He completed his B.S. degree in 

November 1869 and began his first position at Iowa 

Agricultural College the next month. He started 

doing simple experiments in the lab, collecting 

information from local farmers, and developing 

exchanges with other botanists. The curriculum 

was nearly as extensive as what he experienced in 

Michigan. In the sophomore year, students began 

with structural botany, using Gray’s text, while they 

learned dissection and analysis in the laboratory. 

Systematic botany was taken up “as soon as the 

student is far enough advanced to do so” and 

continued throughout the year. The first term of the 

junior year was split between vegetable physiology, 

economic botany, and cryptogamic botany—

all making use of the herbarium and college 

microscopes (Pool, 1934-1935, p. 236). In 1872 the 

AAAS met in Dubuque, Iowa, where Bessey, a new 

member, first met Asa Gray, who was the current 

President. Bessey arranged to spend his 3-month 

winter break at Harvard, where he also worked with 

George Goodale and studied fungi and systematics 

(6 years before Goodale’s winter laboratory course). 

The following year, back in Ames, he moved one 

table, one microscope, and a few reagent jars into a 

small room at the end of a corridor with a sign over 

the door—“Botanical Laboratory.” Bessey claimed 

that this was the “First botanical laboratory outside 

of Harvard.” It was certainly the first botanical 

laboratory for undergraduates in America.

Laboratory instruction.

By 1874 the botanical laboratory was an integral 

part of Bessey’s teaching. The laboratory, and 

particularly microscopy, became the centerpiece 

of laboratory instruction at Ames. Within 2 years 

there were seven compound microscopes and 

graduate courses in physiological botany and 

systematic botany. Four years later, in 1880, there 

were 11 compound scopes in a new building with 

a large botanical laboratory on the first floor. Three 

years later, the lab had 21 student compound 

microscopes and a “first class microscope, with 

accessory apparatus, and high power objectives” 

(Pool, 1934, p. 237). The microscope was necessary 

for making careful observations, not only of the 

anatomy of flowering plants but of a variety of 

cryptogams. Detailed and accurate sketches would 

not be sufficient. Later Bessey would write, “In our 

botanical laboratories the student should be not 

only taught to make measurements of everything 

he studies, but the making of such measurements 

should be a part of the study of the object” (Bessey, 

1889a, p. 52). Bessey later took pride in recalling 

that the administration and his faculty colleagues 

believed “that the professor of botany was slightly 

‘queered’ or out of his head when the subject of 

microscopes was under discussion.” In 1882, when 

a storm destroyed part of the science building, 

Bessey’s only concern was for the state of his 

research microscope, which he found undamaged 

(Anonymous, 1934). The university president 

“never really fully understood my insatiable thirst 

for buying more microscopes” (Overfield, 1993, p. 


At Harvard, Bessey was also influenced by 

Louis Agassiz, whose philosophy was similar to 

Amos Eaton’s—to really learn biology, the student 

Figure 5.  Charles E. Bessey in about 1912. Inset, 

Bessey’s $1200.00 Beck microscope from Iowa State 

University. (Used with permission of Special Collec-

tions Department, Iowa State University Library.)

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must study nature, not books. Bessey made every 

effort to bring into the laboratory living plants as 

opposed to dried or pickled herbarium or museum 

specimens. The student had to be able to touch and 

work with the organisms to really investigate them. 

Laboratory instruction became Bessey’s trademark 

(Figure 6). While at the University of California in 

1874-1875, he introduced botany students there to 

the laboratory method and did the same during 

a visit to Minnesota in 1881, where he offered a 

summer school botany course for teachers (Bessey, 

1881). By 1885, a dozen colleges had botanical 

laboratories equipped with microscopes for student 

use (Arthur, 1885). All the while, Bessey remained 

active in his own research and was developing 

a national reputation. In 1880 he was elected a 

fellow of AAAS and also began a 17-year span of 

providing the botanical editorial notes for each 

issue of American Naturalist. From 1897 through 

1915, he did the same for Science.

There is no doubt that Bessey was the driving 

force behind introducing modern laboratory 

instruction into the botany curriculum in this 

country, but he was not working in a vacuum; 

similar changes were occurring in England. Sir W. 

T. Thiselton-Dyer later wrote, “The 1873 [botany] 

course commenced on June 24 and lasted for six 

weeks. The lectures presented no difficulty, as the 

ground had already been gone over in Dublin. The 

plan was that adopted by Huxley: a lecture at 10 

o’clock and then an adjournment to the laboratory, 

where each student was provided with a place, 

microscope, and necessary instrumental appliances. 

The work continued from 11 to 1 P.M. and from 2 

till 4. It was expected that, with the assistance of 

the lecturer and his assistants, the students would 

then have succeeded in verifying every material 

statement made in the lecture” (Thiselton-Dyer, 

1925, p. 711). It is not clear whether either man 

knew of the other’s work at that time, but it is clear 

that similar trends were brewing, and others in 

this country were aware of them (Rothrock, 1881). 

In both England and America, it was beginning 

to be recognized that “German science is the 

professional investigation of detail, slowly attaining 

generalizations. English science is the opposite 

of this,—amateurish rather than professional” 

(Anonymous, 1883, p. 456). It was time to follow, 

and improve on, the German model.

Bessey’s botanical textbook.

In the early 1870s, Henry Holt and Company 

planned a series of textbooks in the sciences and 

approached Goodale at Harvard to write their 

botany textbook. The resulting manuscript was 

apparently not “sufficiently general,” and rather 

than modify the text, Goodale suggested that 

Bessey might be a more appropriate author for 

Figure 6.  Bessey’s botany laboratory in 1914. (Used with permission of the Archives and Special 

Collections, University of Nebraska – Lincoln Libraries.)

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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

the project, given the successful series of lectures 

he presented in California in 1875. The book had 

to be suitable for a general introductory-level 

audience, have an American orientation, contain 

original illustrations, and include evolution. Before 

accepting the project, Bessey contacted Gray to 

get his opinion. Gray responded, “I wish you 

success but [I] must not do more for your Holt and 

Company book because it is intended to be one of 

my rivals in that field, which is why Goodale could 

not touch it” (Overfield, 1993, p. 26). One wonders 

if Gray recalled his response to Wood’s request 

decades earlier.

Botany for High Schools and Colleges (1880) was 

published 2 years later. The approach of the book 

was to help the student “to become himself an 

observer and investigator, and thus to obtain at first 

hand his knowledge of the anatomy and physiology 

of plants…” (Bessey, 1880b, p. iii). The content 

and organization was based on Sachs’ Lehrbuch 

der Botanik (1868), and Bessey acknowledged 

his reliance on Hofmeister, de Bary, Nageli, 

Strassburger, Schwendener, and others. Here was 

an American version of current botanical research 

coming out of the best labs in Europe. Bessey noted 

that he provided only a few major innovations 

beyond Sachs. In Part One, General Anatomy and 

Physiology, he recognized seven distinct tissue types: 

parenchyma, collenchyma, sclerenchyma, fibrous 

tissue, laticiferous tissue, sieve tissue, and tracheary 

tissue, which was more similar to the treatment of 

DeBary (1877). In Part Two, his major innovation 

concerned his treatment of algae and fungi. Rather 

than two divisions, one for Charophytes and one 

for all the rest of the thallophytes, Bessey raised the 

slime molds, bacteria, and blue-greens to a division 

of their own: Protophyta. The diatoms, desmids, 

water molds, and some green algae he included in 

the division Zygosporae. The majority of the green 

algae, some water molds, and the brown algae 

were grouped into division Oosporeae, and the red 

algae, ascomycetes, basidiomycetes, and Characeae 

formed the Carposporeae. He also followed the 

British, rather than the German, classification of 

flowering plants. Ford’s comment that “Sachs’s and 

Bessey’s work combined and viewed as essentially 

the same document…” is a gross oversimplification 

(Ford, 1964, p. 65).

Bessey’s last chapter contained a brief section on 

“The Distribution of Plants in Time.” He realized 

that Darwin’s theory of modification of species 

was already having an impact on classification, but 

even more importantly, Darwin’s growing body of 

work was providing new insights in a wide field 

of botanical study. “For the botanist of to-day, 

plants are living, moving, feeling beings, whose 

habits and movements, and the secrets of whose 

lives are deemed worthy of the closest scrutiny 

and observation. In this work, the proper work of 

modern botany, Mr. Darwin led, and where he did 

not enter himself, he pointed out the way. The titles 

of his books alone, almost outline the whole work 

of the student of plant life” (Bessey, 1882a, p. 507). 

While Bessey never used the word “evolution,” he 

understood that natural selection would gradually 

lead to classification systems showing gradual 

modification and differentiation of organisms, 

generally from more simple to more complex.

Bessey was clearly inspired by Sachs, but his text 

was certainly not as encyclopedic, nor written at the 

same level, as its German model (Table 2, Figure 

2). Nevertheless, it was accessible, it was modern, 

and it was American. John Coulter’s (1880) review 

in the Botanical Gazette expressed some of the most 

positive opinions.

Of necessity the work could not be entirely or even 

mostly original, but rather in Part I a following of that 

done in the German laboratories and based chiefly 

upon Sachs’ great “Lehrbuch.” In Part II the higher 

plants of course conform to the system of Bentham 

and Hooker. The classification and treatment of the 

lower plants seem to be the author’s own work and 

is probably the part of the book that is most original.

The book also contains constant suggestions with 

regard to laboratory work, such as the best plant 

from which to get certain tissues, etc., and the best 

method of treatment. This enables the student to 

go into the laboratory alone, or rather with the aid 

of the experience of Prof. Bessey, one of the most 

successful of teachers, and perform satisfactorily all 

the elementary work in the histological structure of 

plants. We would most cordially commend the work 

to the use of all professors and students of botany not 

only as the best American book upon the subject, but 

the only one.—J.M.C.

On the other hand, many criticized the book, 

saying it was too difficult, and the laboratory 

approach was not an effective way to teach 

students. According to Professor Eugene Hilgard 

at California, the book may be “valuable for the 

advanced student who wants to know more than 

names and morphology, yet I find few of this type 

of student.” He “tried to keep classes interested in 

the details of vegetable anatomy and of microscopic 

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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

1889b, p. 54-55). The Essentials of Botany was not 

one of these. The general organization was the 

same as in his larger book, but he suggested that he 

considerably modified the language. He noted that 

many technical terms were anglicized, particularly 

in classification. For instance, Zygophyta became 

zygophytes. (Perhaps students with Latin training 

would have appreciated this?) “Distribution of 

Plants in Geological Time” was moved forward to 

the introductory chapter on classification. Despite 

his attempts to simplify the reading, the Flesch-

Kincaid reading level of this elementary book was 

also about 10th grade, no different from that of 

his larger text (Table 2). However, in the preface, 

Bessey does exhort teachers to use the text only as 

a guide for students, not as facts to be memorized: 

“Every effort should be made to have the pupil see 

things for himself” (Bessey, 1884, p. iv).

The New Botany.

Bessey’s textbook was one of the first salvos of 

“the new botany” in America, a term coined by Beal 

(1880), at Michigan Agricultural College, but soon 

taken up by other, mostly younger, midwestern 

botanists including Bessey, Bessey’s undergraduate 

and Master’s student, J. C. Arthur, and their mutual 

friend John M. Coulter. In 1875 Coulter founded 

the  Botanical Gazette, which was to become the 

mouthpiece of the younger generation of botanists. 

In addition to traditional taxonomic reports, it 

published anatomy, physiology, and a mix of news, 

teaching, and advocacy for modern botany. In 1880 

J. C. Arthur published the first teaching paper in 

an American botanical journal, which suggested 

that pumpkin is a most useful example of a dicot 

stem to use in the laboratory (Arthur, 1880). Two 

years later, Bessey suggested that Asparagus stem is 

an optimal monocot for teaching (Bessey, 1882b). 

The new botany involved both a change in the 

emphasis of botanical study and also a change in 

the methods of botanical instruction. Microscopy 

was essential, and cells and tissues of a variety of 

plants, particularly algae, fungi, and nonflowering 

plants, were included in the curriculum. In the 

early 1880s Beal outlined his pedagogical approach 

in the Botanical Gazette. In the first class, students 

were challenged to make careful observations and 

comparisons of specimens specifically chosen to 

highlight subtle characters to emphasize their self-

reliance and capabilities. The second day, students 

would be required to make written descriptions of 

their observations, and credit would be given for 

this as well as for their recitations. Many of these 

life but found year after year dropping more to 

the view of Gray that it is first necessary to create 

proper interest of what the student can see” 

(Overfield, 1993, p. 34). Gray’s (1880) review in the 

American Journal of Science was complimentary in 

a backhanded way. “It speaks well for the progress 

of science in the United States, when a professor in 

a college in so new a State as Iowa, situated mid-

way between the Mississippi and the Missouri, 

can produce so creditable a book as this. The work 

concerns itself throughout with what the Germans 

call ‘Scientific Botany,’—largely with vegetable 

anatomy and development, and with particular 

attention to the lower Cryptogamia…. It will indeed 

form a substitute for it [Sachs’ Lehrbuch]; and the 

systematic part, so far as it goes, is an improvement 

upon the model…. Prof. Bessey’s volume is a 

timely gift to American students of a good manual 

of vegetable anatomy and of the structure and 

classification of the lower cryptogamis, which was 

very much needed. Here at least is a commendable 

beginning.” An anonymous reviewer in 1881 wrote, 

“It seems to us, nevertheless, that he is a little 

infected with German dryness as is not unnatural 

in a first edition of a book on a technical subject, 

in which the Germans are masters. The book was 

intended as a companion for the laboratory, and as 

such, perhaps, we should not complain of it, but it 

was also intended for the general reader, and in his 

interest we recommend a little greater solution of 

the solid contents. For it must be borne in mind 

that many will want to learn from this book who 

have not the advantage of witnessing Professor 

Bessey’s skill in working” (Anonymous, 1881). 

Given the reading level of Bessey’s book, compared 

with the alternatives (Table 2), one wonders if this 

reviewer had ulterior motives.

 Holt wanted a second edition within 4 months 

and also contracted with Bessey to produce a more 

elementary text. The Essentials of Botany came out 

in 1884. As noted above for the previous authors, 

issuing new editions of textbooks was of common 

occurrence in the United States, but the last quarter 

of the 19th century set new standards for competing 

textbooks (Table 3). Most of these were reviewed 

by Bessey and/or the Botanical Gazette. By the late 

1880s, we begin to see the review title “Another 

School Botany,” which usually signaled a mundane 

text—or worse. “Verily in botany ‘of making many 

books there is no end,’ … Without question the book 

cost the author a great deal of hard work, and it is a 

pity that it has been such a waste of energy” (Bessey, 

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Except in the case of Harvard, where a laboratory 

was part of the original design of the building, 

most of the early laboratories made use of re-fitted 

existing rooms. By 1885, however, most of the 

universities with laboratories had their own new 

buildings, constructed with the laboratory in mind. 

In most cases, these laboratories were dedicated 

specifically to botany, but occasionally a lower-

division room was shared with zoology. Harvard, 

Cornell, and Penn were conspicuous in being the 

only older Eastern schools, and Penn was unique 

in requiring an introductory biology course, with 

laboratory, as an introduction to both advanced 

botany and zoology courses. Wabash, the home base 

of Coulter, was the only small liberal arts college 

represented. The majority of schools supporting the 

new botany were midwestern, and most were land-

grant colleges. Twelve years later, the universities 

of California, Chicago, Columbia, Johns Hopkins, 

Stanford, Minnesota, and Smith College could be 

added to the list (Anonymous, 1897a). Except for 

Columbia and Smith, these again were new colleges. 

This dichotomy between the (old botany) East and 

the (new botany) Midwest and West was likely an 

expression of the attitude of professors: “In many 

of our universities, and we are not now speaking 

of agricultural colleges, which must be classed with 

technical schools rather than with universities…” 

(Farlow, 1876, p. 288). Proponents of the new botany 

were not just interested in educating their students 

and advancing knowledge in the discipline, they 

were concerned with applying knowledge to solve 

problems for the general good and welfare of the 

people of their state or region (Anonymous, 1887a, 


Yet, the two schools of thought recognized 

some similarities. First, of all the natural sciences, 

botany was most easily, and cheaply, applied to the 

classroom. Second, the first requirement for a good 

teacher was that he be thoroughly grounded in the 

subject. And finally, school teachers must be taught 

how to teach as well as what they should teach. 

They also agreed that the task of a college professor 

was made difficult by the diversity and motivation 

of their students. Students could be divided into 

three groups: those few with a passion and natural 

aptitude for botany; generally good students taking 

the course to fulfill some requirement; and those “…

whose principal aim in coming to college seems to 

be to get as little good out of it as possible” (Farlow, 

1876, p. 289; Bessey, 1886 a, b, c, d, 1887a, b, c). 

During the 1880s and 1890s, the new botany 

essays would be accompanied by drawings to help 

explain certain points. All this was based on living 

plants before the students were given assignments 

in their textbook (Beal, 1881, 1885).

However, another new kind of textbook was 

published in 1886 to guide students in their 

laboratory investigations. The outline for the 

Handbook of Plant Dissection (Arthur et al., 1886) 

was drawn from Bessey’s botanical portion of 

the 1881 Minnesota Summer Science School. 

It provided a guide to studying the macro- and 

microscopic structure of 12 plants beginning 

with two blue-greens, Spirogyra, an oomycete and 

an ascomycete, a liverwort and a moss, a fern, 

a pine, oats, Trillium, and shepherd’s purse (the 

host of the oomycete). The format of instruction 

was based on Huxley and Martin’s (1875) biology 

manual published a decade earlier in England. 

The introductory chapter provided a brief listing 

of the materials and equipment needed and a 

description of how to use the microscope and 

razor. (If you author your own lab manual, you 

should read the descriptions of “Section Cutting,” 

“Mounting,” “Applying Reagents,” and “Drawing” 

before you do your next revision!) Each chapter 

began with a general introduction to the organism’s 

ecology and life history followed by the laboratory 

instructions. Students were directed to begin with 

gross anatomical observations and then move to 

minute anatomy, utilizing whole mounts, peels, and 

hand sections. The text provided simple directions 

as to the type of preparation to make and then told 

the student what to “notice.” Annotations at the 

end of the chapter summarized what the student 

should have seen and put this into the context of the 

biology of the organism. Although it covered only 

plant structure, this book was a model for a plethora 

of laboratory manuals published in the next decade 

in the same way that Bessey’s textbooks provided a 

model for an explosion of new botany texts. It was 

soon clear that the problem in promoting the new 

botany was not one of available materials to support 

instruction, nor in the students’ difficulty in 

learning about such material, but rather it was the 

average instructor’s deficiencies in understanding 

physiology, internal structure, and nonvascular 

plants (Overfield, 1993, p. 92).

The impact of the new botany can be seen by 

the rapid development of teaching laboratories in 

colleges around the country. By 1885, 12 universities 

had adopted laboratory instruction in their botany 

program (Table 4; Arthur, 1885; Bessey, 1886a). 

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First Laboratory

Number of Labs

Number of 

Hours Available 
to Students



1 General 
3 Specialized

21 Compound

9-5, MWF



2 Upper Division 
3 Specialized

11 Dissection 
12 Compound

8-5, M-Sat




21 Compound

2-5, M-Th

University of 


Microscopy lab 
General lab

43 Compound 
6 Compound

8-12:30, M-F

University of 



21 Compound

8-12, 1-5, M-F




27 Compound





25 Dissection 
25 Compound

9-4, M-F 
9-12 Sat

University of 


General Lab 
Advanced Lab

11 Dissection 
25 Compound


University of 


Junior Lab 
Senior Lab

24 Dissection 
24 Compound

9-5, M-F

Wabash College


General Lab 
Advanced Lab

20 Compound

9-4, M-F

University of 



25 Dissection 
22 Compound 
1 Research-grade

9-4, M-F

Shaw School of 



16 Dissection 
1 Compound


Table 4. Botanical laboratories in U.S. colleges and universities by 1885.

Data derived from Arthur (1885) and Bessey (1886). n.a., hours available not reported.

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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

made dramatic inroads into college and university 

curricula. Bessey and Coulter, from their editorial 

positions in The American Naturalist and Botanical 

Gazette, respectively, were cheerleaders for 

the change and provided a sounding board for 

others. “Botany in America was never in a more 

flourishing condition than at the present time” 

(Anonymous, 1886, p. 2). Plant anatomy, plant 

physiology, and plant ecology were becoming 

established disciplines, both in terms of research 

publication and in their incorporation into the 

botanical curriculum. Bessey, Beal, and others 

were pushing to include practical botany, especially 

agricultural botany, not only as research areas but 

as educational fields on a par with more traditional 

“basic” botany (Bailey, 1885, 1892; Bessey, 1886b, c; 

Campbell, 1887; Anonymous, 1894; Arthur, 1895; 

Beal, 1895). Bessey was also adamant that it was the 

duty of botany teachers to encourage their students 

to become proficient in German, French, and Latin 

as part of their botanical training. “The literature 

of Vegetable Anatomy and Physiology can only be 

known to him in the meager translations of men 

fortunately better trained than himself, while the 

mass of the literature of systematic botany must 

forever remain sealed to him…”(Bessey, 1887a, p. 


Bessey was particularly concerned that these 

changes were not having enough impact on the 

introductory-level courses and in the high schools. 

He thought this was particularly important because 

the introductory course was the only exposure most 

students would be given to the subject. At the same 

time, it had to provide an adequate foundation for 

subsequent courses for those going on in botany. 

On the basis of his experience, he felt that a general 

view of the entire plant kingdom was critical. To 

do this, a few typical examples of the major groups 

should be collected by the students to be examined 

for their general appearance, structure, and life 

cycle. A few examples of these then should be 

selected for closer analysis of anatomy, physiology, 

and development using appropriate equipment 

(Bessey, 1886b). Of course, this approach would be 

more time consuming than a traditional approach, 

but “…botany is a science of observation, and that 

botanical study on the part of the pupil must consist 

largely of training and practice in the observation 

of plants” (Bessey, 1887b, p. 768). 

Although the new botany gradually permeated 

botanical instruction through the end of the century, 

controversy continued to exist, not only with those 

clinging to tradition but also over the best practices 

for implementation. From the beginning, Bessey 

valued collections and taxonomy, as he and many 

of his students published on the flora of Nebraska. 

His main concern was that collections go beyond 

the flowering plants (Bessey, 1886d, 1887c). Yet his 

advocacy for anatomical and physiological work, 

his interests in fungi and cryptogams, and his 

concern for practical applications in agriculture 

gave the impression to many that there was no 

room for “old-fashioned” taxonomy. The first 

soundings of a problem echoed across the Atlantic 

in 1884 in an exchange between George Henslow 

(1884) and W. T. Thiselton-Dyer (1884) in Nature, 

which was picked up and reported by Bessey (1885; 

Anonymous, 1885). The controversy, and the way 

toward resolution, were summarized thusly:

THE TWO EXTREMES of botanical teaching are 

frequently referred to. They may be called the ancient 

and the modern, and neither alone is productive of 

the best results.… The ancient method gives a wide 

range of acquaintance with external forms, a general 

knowledge of the plant kingdom and its affinities, 

a living interest in the surrounding flora; but it 

disregards the underlying morphology of minute 

structures and chemical processes, the great principles 

which bring plant life into one organic whole. The 

modern method, on the contrary, takes a few types, 

carefully examines their minutest structures and 

life work, and grounds well in general biological 

principles; but it loses the relation of things, as well 

as any knowledge of the display of the plant kingdom 

in its endless diversity, and worse than all for the 

naturalist, cultivates no love for a flora at hand and 

inviting attention. The former is the method of the 

field, the latter of the laboratory. The wise teacher 

will adopt both methods and thus avoid the greatest 

disadvantage of either. (Anonymous, 1887b, p. 87)

Differences of opinion also existed as to the most 

effective sequencing of diversity. Bessey, in his text 

and writings, encouraged teachers to begin with 

the simplest organisms, bacteria, and end with the 

flowering plants. Others argued that students are 

most familiar with flowering plants, so you should 

begin with what they know, and move gradually 

to the less familiar. The point, simple to complex, 

and counter-point, familiar to less familiar, were 

argued succinctly in two articles titled “A mistake 

in teaching botany” (Fink, 1893; Claypole, 1893). 

While most of these discussions concerned 

teaching botany at the college level, high school 

teachers also entered the lists on the side of their 

college champions (Hudson, 1894).

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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

vegetable life, he will lay a broad and at the same 

time solid foundation of biological knowledge… 

(Huxley, 1876). Although his audience for this 

address was a special case where many graduates 

of the new school were expected to go on for 

professional medical training, it is clear that 

Huxley’s new biology was meant to replace both 

botany and zoology in the curriculum (Huxley and 

Martin, 1875; Huxley, 1876, 1897; Jensen, 1993). 

The botany/biology controversy came to a head 

in the last decade of the century. Here there was no 

argument about the importance of the laboratory 

and the roles of anatomy and physiology in a 

modern curriculum. There was also no argument 

that the traditional fields of botany and zoology had 

broadened and that specialization, and specialists, 

were needed in the modern areas. The difference 

was whether botany and zoology should coexist 

independently or be joined in a broader biology. 

C. O. Whitman (a founder of the American Society 

of Zoologists) fired an opening shot with an article 

on biological instruction in universities (1887). 

Through most of the article, the only thing Bessey 

and the new botanists might have taken exception 

to was the admonition that colleges were becoming 

too concerned with general education and practical 

application and were not concerned enough about 

the higher aims of generating new knowledge 

through research. 

Controversy erupted 4 years later with the 

publication of Biological Teaching in the Colleges 

of the United States (Campbell, 1891). This report, 

commissioned by the Bureau of Education, U.S. 

Department of the Interior, charged its author 

to survey the dramatic changes in biological 

education that had occurred in the previous 20 

years. An interesting side note is that, even then, 

Campbell acknowledged that changes in chemistry 

and physics were ahead of those in Biology—

something that holds true in science pedagogy 

today (Campbell, 1891, p. 9). 

The botanical response to the monograph was 

immediate. An editorial in the Botanical Gazette 

noted the inequities in distribution of teaching, 

with most universities having “two usually able 

men teaching zoology, and practically no botanical 

instruction” (Anonymous, 1890a, p. 180). If there 

was botany instruction, it was usually limited to 

the flowering plants, and in general, the older 

institutions were the slowest to adopt laboratory 

instruction. Two issues later, a contribution from 

Botany vs. biology.

The example of the University of Pennsylvania, 

noted above for its early implementation of 

laboratories but with general biology as a 

prerequisite to both botany and zoology, illustrates 

the rapid inroad of a competing philosophy 

developing at about the same time the new botany 

was rising in the Midwest and in England. Biology 

was transplanted from England and found root in 

the East, particularly in the medical schools. As 

early as 1854, Thomas Henry Huxley stated that 

“…the educational bearings of Biology, in general, 

does precede that of Special Zoology and Botany…” 

(Huxley, 1897, p. 39). Huxley, sometimes referred 

to as “Darwin’s bulldog,” was also an educational 

reformer who was a strong advocate for teaching 

science at all educational levels, beginning in 

elementary school. In 1875, Huxley, along with his 

protégé Henry N. Martin, published A Course of 

Practical Instruction in Elementary Biology, which 

was basically a laboratory manual for a course he 

designed in 1872 for elementary school teachers. In 

1875, Daniel Gilman, the newly appointed president 

of the yet-to-be-opened Johns Hopkins University, 

met with Huxley and was duly impressed. Not only 

did he offer a position to Martin, but he invited 

Huxley to be the inaugural speaker the following 

year at the opening of the university. 

Johns Hopkins was founded as a new kind 

of research university, based on the German 

model, and it was tied to its medical school. In his 

address, Huxley elaborated on his philosophy of 

education, much of which resonated with the new 

botany. Science instruction should begin at the 

elementary level and continue through the college 

years. He stressed learning from observation 

and experimentation and promoted laboratory 

instruction as an effective pedagogy. Student 

research was an essential component of instruction, 

and when any lecturing was done, it should be 

extemporaneous from notes, not read from a book 

or manuscript. Students should be taught how 

to learn, not how to memorize what others had 

written. He also advocated having examinations at 

the end of each course, rather than a comprehensive 

examination at the end of a curriculum. In fact, the 

only conflict he had with the proponents of the new 

botany, was botany itself. “He [the student] will 

study not botany and zoology, which I have said 

take him too far away from his ultimate goal, but 

by duly arranged instruction, combined with study, 

in the laboratory, of the leading types of animal and 

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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

“a prominent botanist” editorialized that “The one-

sided method of teaching biology pursued in one of 

our great universities and emphasized in more than 

one text-book is distinctly deplorable. One even 

notes in certain circles a tendency to read botany 

out of the scientific party altogether” (Anonymous, 

1890b, p. 236). 

The following month, “a prominent zoologist” 

retorted that not long ago, when there was 

no biology but only natural history, “Life and 

biology—a discourse on life—lelbowed [sic] its 

way into the curriculum. It was not until the 

living Amoeba (the animal is not a myth) thrust 

out its pseudopodia right in the very face of the 

student, not until the action of the frog’s heart 

was studied by every pupil, that biology came in. 

Zoology brought the impetus and the idea and in 

many a college where the botanist still goes his 

weary round of finding out whether the ovule is 

orthotropous  or  anatropous and of looking at the 

placentation of the ovule, all study of life is still left 

to the zoologist” (Anonymous, 1890c, p. 276.). The 

zoology editors of The American Naturalist entered 

the fray the following month, noting that at most 

universities, biology is devoted almost entirely to 

animals, but it is not their fault. “Fully half of the 

teachers of botany are utterly unable to give any of 

the living side of their subject. Analysis is all that 

they know, and so when the zoologist goes as far as 

he can, and teaches all that there is taught of life, is 

he to be blamed for claiming the name?” (Cope and 

Kingsley, 1890, p. 1050). 

In reply to the zoological assertions that the 

major concepts of biology can be taught solely 

with zoological examples, Humphrey provided the 

opposite tack with some examples in which plants 

are better exemplars. But he also quoted one of his 

zoological colleagues who “…could not understand 

why botanists remain silent while chairs of biology 

are repeatedly filled with zoölogists [sic] … ‘If I were 

a botanist, I should be heard from’” (Humphrey, 

1890, p. 341). Biologists continued (and continue) 

to have the loudest voice; this was best summarized 

by W. G. Farlow in his retrospective on the change 

from the old botany to the new botany in the United 

States. “I refer to what may be called the biological 

epidemic which broke out soon after I returned to 

America [in 1873 from studying in Germany] and 

threatened for a time to drive botany from the field” 

(Farlow, 1913).

In November of 1884, Bessey left Iowa State 

University and assumed the duties of Professor of 

Botany and Horticulture and Dean of the Industrial 

College at the University of Nebraska in January 1885. 

He vowed that the program at Nebraska would not 

“still regard botany as a pleasant pastime consisting 

mainly of flower hunting…” or where “the scientific 

botanist was one who collected, dried, and pressed 

into dead flatness the plants of his neighborhood, 

only to attach to them afterword [sic] certain Latin 

names….” He distinguished between two classes 

of research, both of which would be important 

in the department. One type was more practical, 

with the goal of achieving immediate results; the 

second was more fundamental, “in which the aim 

is to discover some profound principle, or establish 

beyond dispute some fact in nature … the two great 

wants are a better knowledge of principles and 

greater intelligence to apply them” (Bessey, 1885). 

Throughout his career, Bessey complained that 

botanists were not doing the kind of physiological 

and pathological work that was needed and that 

they generally tended to neglect cultivated plants.

Nebraska and Sem Bot.

The following year, his second at Nebraska, 

seven of Bessey’s undergraduates informally 

banded together to form a “club” of field botanists 

calling themselves “Sem Bot” (the botanical 

seminar). Originally a “secret society” organized 

as an alternative to the “Greek” societies in 

the humanities and languages, Bessey saw the 

opportunity to harness this energy in the form 

of a German-style seminar devoted to research. 

Membership was opened to all botany students, 

becoming a type of honorary academic society 

who gathered for research seminars where key 

and controversial botanical ideas were discussed, 

and Bessey could reinforce his ideal of “eating and 

breathing of botany.” Bessey’s advice was to “Let 

your brain always contain much meristem, and 

little permanent tissue and have a bias in favor of 

new ideas” (Overfield, 1993, p. 158). He encouraged 

students to work on their own projects and offered 

free access to his own laboratory, the herbarium, and 

library 6 days a week and occasional evenings. One 

outcome was that the official “Flora of Nebraska” 

for the botanical survey was the independently 

organized ongoing product of Sem Bot members. 

As the number of student members grew, with each 

working on his own independent project, another 

function of Sem Bot was to provide an annual 

forum for student presentations, the model of 

undergraduate and graduate student research days 

on many campuses today. Notices of these final 

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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

Sem Bot seminars were included among the reports 

of regional scientific meetings announced in the 

Botanical Gazette (Anonymous, 1897b).  

Botany and AAAS.

As part of the professionalization of botany, 

Bessey and his botanical peers were active in AAAS. 

In 1883, during the AAAS meeting in Minneapolis, 

they organized the Botanical Club, which met 

during the meeting and provided a forum for 

brief papers and reports that would not fit in the 

regular section F, Biology. In 1890, 28 of the 48 

papers presented in section F were by botanists, 

and an additional 17 briefer papers, including one 

on physiology laboratory apparatus by J. C. Arthur, 

were presented (AAAS, 1890a, b). Arthur’s paper 

appears to be the first presentation of a botanical 

paper with an education focus at a national 

meeting. Bessey suggested that the following year, 

others should bring sketches and/or instruments 

to share. Among the demonstrations presented in 

1891 was a student reagent case brought by Dr. Beal 

(AAAS, 1891). In 1892 Bessey was elected chair of 

the new AAAS Botany Section, which would meet 

for the first time in Madison the following year. At 

Madison, 34 papers, one fifth of the papers presented 

at the entire meeting, were in the new section G, 

Botany. Most were related to the new botany, and 

several of them addressed pedagogy. Conway 

MacMillan, one of Bessey’s former students who 

was then at Minnesota, presented “A preliminary 

statement concerning botanical laboratories and 

instruments in American universities and colleges.” 

MacMillan noted that on the basis of survey 

results, three different approaches were being used 

in universities: “(1) those which do such work as 

that offered by Gray’s “Lessons” and the “analysis” 

of a few flowers; (2) those which simply study 

types, after the Huxley and Martin method, and 

have little or no botanical tendency; (3) those with 

well-developed courses in all the various phases 

of botanical activity.” As a result of the discussion 

that followed MacMillan’s paper, a resolution was 

passed requesting the commissioner of education to 

publish a monograph on the subject of laboratories, 

to be prepared by Professor MacMillan. 

Botany and The Committee of Ten.

In addition to the laboratories motion, a second 

motion was passed to appoint John M. Coulter, D. H. 

Campbell, and Nathaniel L. Britton to a committee 

with the charge of reporting at the next annual 

meeting of the section concerning some feasible 

way by which the section might use its influence in 

securing better botanical instruction in secondary 

schools. This charge was preempted by the National 

Council of Education, which appointed The 

Committee of Ten earlier that year. This committee 

was charged to make national recommendations 

for secondary school curricula, the best methods 

of instruction, and the requirements for entry 

into colleges. The chairman was Charles Eliot, 

president of Harvard and a former student of 

Asa Gray. The committee quickly organized nine 

“conferences,” major discipline areas, among which 

was natural history. Ten members were selected for 

each conference, representing both colleges and 

secondary schools. Both Coulter and Campbell 

were chosen to represent botany. Rather than 

Britton, however, the Committee chose Bessey 

to be a third college botanist on the committee 

(Committee of Ten, 1894).  

Among the recommendations of the committee 

was that botany and zoology should be taught 

for at least an hour a week, preferably in smaller 

blocks, from grades 1-8. This instruction should be 

primarily experiential and not use a textbook. At 

least a year of high school natural history should 

be three fifths laboratory based. The latter should 

be a minimum requirement for entrance to college. 

The primary objectives at the elementary level 

were to interest students in nature; to train them 

in observing, comparing, and communicating (“to 

develop in them a taste for original investigation”); 

and to acquire specific knowledge “gained by 

actual experience” (Committee, 1894, p. 142). A 

detailed plan of study was suggested so that by the 

end of 2 years, students would have a general idea 

of the plant as a whole, living being. By the end 

of 4 years, students should be asking “how” and 

“why” and know something about plant growth 

and reproduction as well as general uses and gross 

structure of organs. After 6 years, students should 

be self-reliant and independent with a general 

knowledge of the life history of the whole plant, 

and the last 2 years should introduce students to 

fungi, algae, and nonvascular plants. High school 

work should begin with at least a full year of 

biology consisting of 3 days of lab, 1 day of lecture, 

and 1 day for quizzing per week. A year and a half 

was preferable and this should include at least a 

semester of botany. Again, there should not be a 

textbook, per se, but only a laboratory manual and 

reference books. The course work should focus 

on a survey from blue-greens through flowering 

plants—basically the contents of Arthur et al. 

(1886) with additional algal examples. 

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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

the approach of beginning with the algae and 

fungi and moving to the flowering plants (Trafton, 

1902). It is interesting that at least one aspect of The 

Committee of Ten’s recommendations continues to 

have a significant impact on kindergarten through 

12th-grade education today (Vázquez, 2006). 

Biology continues to precede chemistry and physics 

in most high school and college curricula.

Despite the appearance of consensus, however, 

there continued to be dissension in the ranks. The 

biology movement, referred to above, continued 

to gain support, particularly from administrators, 

at both the school and college levels. In addition, 

the nature study movement began to usurp botany 

in the schools (Jackman, 1894; Kohlstedt, 2005). 

Although Coulter at the University of Chicago 

and Bailey at Cornell University were among the 

founders and strongest supporters of the nature 

study movement, inadequate teacher preparation 

and a plethora of publications weakened the 

effort. “Many of these have been little more 

than compilations of fantastic stories about 

natural objects, made by persons with excellent 

imaginations and a little inaccurate information 

upon several scientific subjects. As a result nature 

study is looked upon, in some localities, as a rather 

frivolous pastime, which is not of any very great 

importance in the real business of education” 

(Caldwell, 1899, pp. 143-144). Finally, although 

the new botany emphasized the importance of 

both applied and fundamental botanical studies, 

they would soon drift apart, in part because of the 

attitude quoted above by Farlow 2 decades earlier 

(Farlow, 1876, p. 288).


I want thank my wife, Sara, a colonial historian 

who constantly encouraged me to look for the 

bigger picture. Although many of the resources 

cited are now available online, the collections of the 

Anchutz and Spencer Libraries at the University 

of Kansas, the Hale Library at Kansas State 

University, and the William Allen White Library at 

Emporia State University were essential resources. 

Highlights of Charles E. Bessey’s role in botanical 

education were presented at the Future of Botany 

Teaching Symposium during the Botany 2008 

meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia; this paper 

was summarized in a presentation to the Historical 

Section of the Botanical Society during the Botany 

2011 meeting in St. Louis, Missouri. 

The Botanical Society of 


The most significant activity of the 1893 AAAS 

meeting for botany and botanical instruction was 

the circuitous formation of the Botanical Society 

of America, as described by Tippo (1958) and 

Smokovitis (2006). In short, despite a committee 

recommendation not to establish an independent 

American botanical society separate from either 

the botany section of AAAS or the associated 

Botanical Club, Dr. Charles Barnes convinced those 

present that the Botanical Club should approve “the 

formation of an American botanical society whose 

membership shall be restricted to those who have 

published worthy work and are actively engaged 

in botanical investigation. 2. That to this end the 

Botanical Club proceeded to elect ten men who 

beyond all question should belong to a society so 

restricted. 3. That these ten be directed to select 

fifteen additional members who in their judgment 

fall well within the limits suggested.” Among the 

original ten were Bessey and Coulter (Coulter, 

1893a, b).

Botany had reached that stage of scientific 

maturity that it could now sustain a national 

society, and its membership included some of the 

most influential scientists in the country. At the 

same time, its leaders recognized the importance 

of strengthening botanical education from the 

elementary and secondary schools through 

university and graduate work. Many of these 

leading scientists were also leaders in the botanical 

education movement, and they were committed to 

an integration of basic science and applied science 

with a place for both at the same table. This will be 

the focus of the next paper in this series. 


By the turn of the 20th century, Charles Bessey 

and the other new botanists appeared to have 

established a de facto consensus about the role 

of botany as a professional discipline of natural 

history and that botanical instruction should 

begin in the elementary schools and be continued 

through high school and into college. Furthermore, 

a survey of a dozen botany textbooks of the time 

demonstrated near congruence of emphasis on 

ecology, physiology, gross morphology (structure 

and modifications of seed plants), general 

morphology (survey of the plant kingdom), 

and special morphology (related to angiosperm 

taxonomy), with the first three forming the 

backbone of a course. Most of these books adopted 

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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

The Department of Botany, Iowa State College, 

cooperating with the Corn Research Institute of 

the Iowa Agricultural Experiment Station. 

ARNOLD, LOIS BARBER. 1984. Four lives in 

science: women’s education in the nineteenth 

century. New York: Schocken Books.

ARTHUR, J. C. 1880. Stem of pumpkin for teaching. 

Botanical Gazette 5: 33-35.

ARTHUR, J. C. 1885. Some botanical laboratories 

of the United States. Botanical Gazette 10: 395-


ARTHUR, J. C. 1895. Development of vegetable 

physiology. Botanical Gazette 20: 381-402.


JOHN M. COULTER. 1886. Handbook of plant 

dissection. New York: Henry Holt and Company.

BAILEY, L. H. Jr. 1885. Talks afield about plants and 

the science of plants. Boston: Houghton Mifflin 

and Company.

BAILEY, L. H. Jr. 1892. A plea for a broader botany. 

Science 20: 48.

BEAL, W.J. 1879.  The New Botany: A lecture on the 

best method of teaching the science.  In: Bessey, 

Ernst A.  1925.  William James Beal.  Botanical 

Gazette 79: 103-106.

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has declined in traditional growing areas. As much 

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In the Gulf countries and Egypt, the red palm 

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Divided into four sections, the book begins by 

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A. Manickavasagan, M. Mohamed Essa, and 

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The date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) is 

cultivated and eaten worldwide in varying 

amounts: in the United States, consumption might 

be quantifiable in units of fruit, whereas in some 

regions, intake typically may be measurable in 

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fruit crop in most countries in the West Asia and 

North Africa (WANA) region. Since antiquity, dates 

emerged linked with the histories of Mesopotamia, 

Egypt, and North Africa. However, according to the 

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United 

Nations, the future of date palms is uncertain. 

Serious problems hamper their cultivation: low 

yields, damaging insects, and a lack of research. 

During the past half century, date palm groves 

have been subject to degradation due to increased 

human activity. El-Juhany (2010) states that over 

the past decade, productivity of date palm trees 

Book Reviews

Books Reviewed

Economic Botany

Dates: Production, Processing, Food, and Medicinal Values  ........................................132
Out of Nature: Why Drugs from Plants Matter to the Future of Humanity ...................134
Sesame: The Genus Sesamum  .......................................................................................135


Joseph Hooker: Botanical Trailblazer ............................................................................136


Aquatic Plants of Pennsylvania: A Complete Reference Guide .....................................137
The Cape Orchids ...........................................................................................................138
The Jepson Manual: Vascular Plants of California, 2nd ed. ...........................................139
Peonies of the World: Polymorphism and Diversity ......................................................142

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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

or Babylonian era; two Roman-era coins picturing 

date palms are also featured. The book’s attractive, 

colorful cover displays the fruiting panicles of three 

date varieties.

This reviewer observes a few grammatical errors 

missed by the volume’s editors and the publisher’s 

copy editor, and regrets the absence of much 

splendid ethnobotanical data, detail in which the 

subject of dates is so rich. One small example is 

the famous Hadhrami Yemeni asid, a highly valued 

aphrodisiac for which sesame oil is an essential 

ingredient (Bedigian, 2004: 345). 

Included among date foods is Chapter 21, 

“Fermentative Products Using Dates as a Substrate,” 

by Sivakumar, who mentions alcohol briefly (on 

two pages), but omits any mention of aragi, a 

powerful crude distilled alcoholic beverage made 

of fermented dates, widely available openly, in this 

writer’s experience, in bygone days (e.g., 40 years 

ago) in Sudan. It is prepared secretly nowadays 

by thousands of women in the squalid camps and 

impoverished neighborhoods of those internally 

displaced persons who fled years of war across 

southern, western, and eastern Sudan. The recipe 

is simple: put dates and baking powder in water; 

cover with a plastic bag to protect against the 

perpetual dust; bury underground for two to five 

days, depending on the season; heat over a fire 

and drip the piping hot liquid through a sieve; 

dilute with water. To the people of Sudan residing 

in neighboring Egypt, however, aragi is more 

than a simple beverage; it is “a cultural artifact 

whose value lies in its material and empirical 

embeddedness in social practice” (Curley, 2009). 

Curley investigated the symbolic role that aragi 

plays in the establishment of identity among 

displaced Sudanese living in Cairo: “For Sudanese 

migrants in Egypt, aragi acts as a signifier, both 

linguistic and cultural, of their identity.” Migrants 

establish selfhood through various practices 

involving aragi, within social, spatial, and material 

spheres. “In Egypt, Sudanese identity and aragi (as 

a cultural object) are ethnographically observed to 

be contextually and semiotically bound through 

their mutual signification in the word ‘aragi’.” 

It’s unfortunate that this detailed work about 

dates neglected substantial cultural aspects and 

skipped considerable regional expertise.
–Dorothea Bedigian, Research Associate, Missouri 

Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri, USA

and structural characteristics of dates. It reviews 

fermentative products that use dates as substrate, 

discusses the fruits as a substitute for added 

sugar in food, and explores date palm feeding to 

livestock. The final section discusses nutritional use 

and reviews the potential of dates in traditional and 

alternative medicine.

Authors affiliated with institutions from the 

following countries contributed to this volume: 

Australia, Egypt, Iran, India, Japan, Nigeria, 

Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab 

Emirates, and the United States. Surprisingly, 

this book includes no authors working in many 

WANA date-growing countries, e.g., none at all 

from North Africa, not even from Tunisia, despite 

the fact that there are six experts listed in the 

Date Palm database active in date palm research 

involving biotechnology with a laboratory devoted 

to date tissue culture, nor from Morocco, with three 

experts listed in the Date Palm database active in 

date palm research, nor Algeria. 

Sadly, despite the fact that the earliest known 

evidence of date palm cultivation was recorded 

from 4000 BC in Ur, lower Mesopotamia (now 

Iraq), and two Iraqi experts are listed as active in 

date palm research in the Date Palm database, this 

volume contains not a single study from Iraq. It 

would seem reasonable to assume that in Iraq—the 

crop’s birthplace—war and neglect have taken their 

toll. Iraq’s date industry, which once peaked at 30 

million cultivated trees in the 1960s, has dwindled 

to 13 million. No author from Sudan appears in this 

book nor is indicated as active in date palm research 

in the Date Palm database, despite Sudan’s diverse 

date cultivars (Elshibli and Korpelainen, 2008, 2009) 

and dedicated research centers at Wad Medani and 

Shambat, reflecting perhaps how extensively civil 

unrest and misdirected governmental priorities 

have taken a toll on agricultural researchers who 

must out-migrate from their countries of origin 

to work elsewhere. No author represents Yemen 

either, despite its substantial date cultivation in 

Wadi Hadhramaut.

It is commendable that CRC Press allowed eight 

pages of color illustrations, which enrich any volume 

of this kind. Economic botanists will particularly 

welcome Chapter 24, “Dates: A Fruit from Heaven” 

by Qasim and Naqvi, since the authors provided 

graceful ethnobotanical images illustrating Adam 

and Eve with a date palm between them, and 

another of the sacred date palm from the Sumerian 

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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

Literature Cited

BEDIGIAN, D. 2004. History and lore of sesame in 

Southwest Asia. Economic Botany 58: 329–353. 

CURLEY, B. 2009. Siting Sudaneseness: Territory, 

practice, and identity in aragiRefuge 26: 183–



php [accessed 2 August 2012].

EL-JUHANY, L. I. 2010. Degradation of date palm 

trees and date production in Arab countries: 

Causes and potential rehabilitation. Australian 

Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences 4: 3998–



Microsatellite markers reveal high genetic 

diversity in date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) 

germplasm from Sudan. Genetica 134:251260.


Biodiversity of date palms (Phoenix dactylifera 

L.) in Sudan: Chemical, morphological and 

DNA polymorphisms of selected cultivars. 

Plant Genetic Resources: Characterization and 

Utilization 7: 194203.

Out of Nature: Why Drugs from 

Plants Matter to the Future of  


Kara Rogers

2012. ISBN-13: 978-0-8165-2969-8

Paperback, US$19.95. x + 204 pp.

University of Arizona Press, Tucson, Arizona, 


The author is the senior editor of biomedical 

sciences at Encyclopaedia Brittannica, Inc., with 

a BS in Biology and a PhD in pharmacology and 

toxicology. However, this is not an academic treatise, 

with literature citations after every other sentence. 

There is, though, an extensive bibliography, not tied 

to the text, which is sort of a “suggested reading” 

segment—if your interests run to things like 

“Induction of pilocarpine formation in jaborandi 

leaves by salicylic acid and methyljasmonate.” 

There are nine pages of these citations, arranged 

alphabetically by author, not organized by chapter.

The running narrative is, of course, plant 

chemistry, although not a single chemical formula 

adorns its pages (or, some would say, mars its 

pages). I judge that the work’s intended audience 

is the college-educated public but not academic 

specialists, and it deserves to be read by that public 

because it is throughout an impassioned plea for 

conservation and preservation. The author makes 

the case that only 1% of the world’s plant species 

have been tested for possible pharmacologic uses, 

while species are being driven to extinction, some 

famously, some silently.

In discussing plants, the author allows herself 

some linguistic shortcuts. For example, she 

speaks of collecting fruits of Taxus brevifolia, a 

gymnosperm, for studies on taxol. (The taxol story 

is given in great detail.) There are numerous other 

simplifications that come perilously close to saying, 

for example, “Plants have spines in order to ward off 

herbivores.” She has no difficulty in stating that in 

dioecious plant species, there are male and female 

[sporophytes], just as in human beings. There 

is even a discussion as to whether or not plants 

have souls—in the context of certain religions. 

It is asserted that the leaves of plants are covered 

with stomata, despite the fact that the stomata in 

gymnosperms are typically in bands, including 

the Pacific yew noted above. It is also asserted that 

there are 380,000 described species of plants, and 

they all share the ability to photosynthesize, even 

where mention of non-photosynthetic flowering 

plants like Conopholis, Epifagus, and Monotropa 

would strengthen the argument for the amazing 

diversity of plants.

The winding, agonizingly slow, and hugely 

expensive path from a plant in the wild to a 

therapeutic drug at the pharmacy is given special 

attention. The roles of academic scientists and 

their counterparts in the pharmaceutical industry 

are also treated in detail. These tales are the main 

strength of the book. The point is made repeatedly 

that it all depends ultimately on maintaining 

biodiversity and intact ecosystems. But the dangers 

to these systems are very largely due to burgeoning 

human populations, which are in turn greatly 

aided by pharmaceuticals that treat and prevent 

“premature” deaths. This built-in contradiction 

is not even hinted at. Indeed, the most effective 

contraceptive drugs, whose origins were originally 

from plants, are not mentioned in this work. It is 

a conundrum: a paradoxical, insoluble, or difficult 

problem; a dilemma. If there is a solution, it lies 

not in the chemistry laboratory but in changing 

attitudes in the human animal. One suspects the 

author wisely decided that would have to be the 

subject of a whole other book.
–Neil A. Harriman, Biology Department, University 

of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, USA.

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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

The crop has been cultivated from some 5000 

years. Accordingly, there is an extensive body of 

folklore, which is touched on in many places in the 

book. The phrase “Open, sesame,” is said to refer 

to dehiscence of the capsule of this “magical” plant. 

As one would expect, sesame oil is widely employed 

in folk medicine to treat toothaches, headaches, 

insomnia, anxiety, and burns. There are health food 

claims for its effects in lowering bad cholesterol, not 

to mention protecting against colon cancer, high 

blood pressure, and an array of other ills.
This volume includes a full chapter on “Sesame Seed 

Food Allergy,” written by Suzanne Teuber, M.D., a 

professor of rheumatology, allergy, and clinical 

immunology at the University of California–Davis. 

The chapter is a primer on food allergies in general, 

and will be read with interest by those afflicted; 

she points out that people allergic to peanuts and 

various tree nuts may also be allergic to sesame 

seeds. It appears that sesame seeds are ubiquitous 

in the food supply—McDonald’s hamburger buns 

are mentioned several times.
Chapter 25, “Current Market Trends,” by Professor 

Bedigian, may be the chapter of greatest interest 

to some readers, because she has amassed an 

extraordinary array of information on the subject, 

including insights and anecdotes that are surely 

unavailable anywhere else. Both food and skin care 

uses are surveyed extensively, but also included 

is the tidbit that sesame is planted as a food plant 

for quail, doves, and pheasant in the southeastern 

United States. The plant is a minor component of 

the weed flora in some parts of the United States.
This work will long stand as the standard reference 

on the subject, and one can only wish Professor 

Bedigian every success in seeing to completion her 

taxonomic revision of the genus.
–Neil A. Harriman, Biology Department, University 

of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Oshkosh, Wisconsin 54901. 


Sesame: The Genus Sesamum 

Dorothea Bedigian, ed. 

2010. ISBN-13: 978-0-8493-3538-9

Hardcover, US$135.95. xxiii + 532 pp.

CRC Press, Taylor and Francis Group, Boca 

Raton, Florida, USA

The editor of this volume is a long-time student of 

the genus. She is the author of six chapters of this 

work, with the other 20 chapters authored by an 

array of experts on various facets of these plants, in 

particular chemistry and various contributions on 

its local culture in places such as Turkey, China, and 

Ethiopia. The cultivated crop is Sesamum indicum 

L., Pedaliaceae. She makes clear that the name is a 

nomen conservandum, but she does not stress that 

Sesamum orientale L., its competing heterotypic 

synonym, is a nomen rejiciendum; the rejected 

name was once fairly widespread in the literature, 

and continues to be used to a minor extent.
There is some doubt as to how many species there 

are in the genus, perhaps 25 or more. Apparently, 

no one has ever monographed the genus, although 

Professor Bedigian makes repeated reference to a 

“forthcoming taxonomic revision,” from her hand. 

There are no keys. As a result, her discussion of the 

four sections of the genus, and of some of the species 

within each section, is difficult to follow. There are 

statements about which binomials ought to be 

reduced to synonymy, but these are not supported 

by any reference to type specimens, competing 

dates of publication, or other formal taxonomic 

apparatus. The beautiful cover illustration in color, 

unidentified after the title page by the publisher, is 

Fig. 2.1 (p. 34) in the text.
The primary use of the plant is sesame oil, which 

is extracted from the seeds. It is widely used in 

cooking, and is said to be notable for its stability 

at room temperature (but two experienced cooks 

whom I consulted said that it so quickly becomes 

rancid that they stopped using it). It is pricey, 

because the seeds are collected by hand. The fruits 

do not mature all at once and dehisce readily. As a 

result, farmers cut off or uproot the plants and stack 

them vertically, to wait for the majority of the fruits 

to mature. At present, 99% of the world’s sesame 

seed is harvested by hand. Races with indehiscent 

fruits have been discovered, but apparently these 

have not made their way into modern agriculture.

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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012


Joseph Hooker: Botanical Trailblazer

Pat Griggs

2012. ISBN-13: 978-1-84246-469-4

Paperback, US$17.00. 64 pp. 

Kew Publishing, Royal Botanic Gardens, 

Kew. Distributed by University of Chicago 

Press, Chicago, Illinois, USA

This slim, exquisitely illustrated volume seems 

to satisfy a noble goal, to popularize botany. 

Appealing to a wide audience—readers interested 

in biography, botanical illustration, botanical and 

herbarium history, or adventurous colonial-era 

travel and exploration—this would seem to be an 

elegant souvenir of a visit to the world-renowned 

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. 
The subject, Joseph Hooker (1817–1911), is 

substantial. He turned his humble employment, 

requiring world travels (i.e., achieved without a 

wealthy sponsor), into plant collecting expeditions, 

first to Antarctica and later to India and the 

Himalayas. A pioneering practicing botanist—

even before the term “scientist” was coined, as the 

book’s Introduction by Jim Endersby points out—

his “early travels left him with a lifelong fascination 

with the geographical distribution of plants” [p. 

10]. Hooker identified, described, or introduced 

over 12,000 plant species. His publications assured 

his reputation among his peers and as a 40-year-

long confidante of Charles Darwin, ensured his 

Joseph Hooker became Assistant Director of the 

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in 1855; in 1865, 

Hooker followed his father Sir William Hooker as 

the director of Kew. He completed an expedition 

to the western United States with America’s 

foremost botanist, Asa Gray, in 1877, bringing 

back 1000 new specimens. Botanists involved 

with writing regional floras or genus revisions will 

celebrate Hooker’s persistent goal: increasing Kew’s 

collections is pervasive, throughout this book. 

Some of Hooker’s other travels included journeys to 

Morocco, Palestine, and Syria. Sir William Hooker 

established Kew’s Economic Botany collection, 

comprising 85,000 items; his son Joseph collected 

many during those collecting trips.

Author Pat Griggs, Kew’s science writer, prepared 

the book in conjunction with an exhibition about 

Joseph Hooker at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery at 

the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. She writes that 

young Joseph Hooker used to sit in on his father’s 

lectures and tag along on field trips. All he wanted 

to do with his life was to study plants. However, 

recognizing that professionals in the other sciences 

did not think much of botany, Joseph became a 

doctor and used this title (and his father’s contacts) 

to secure a place on an expedition to the Antarctic. 

Hooker requested an appointment as the ship’s 

botanist, and the expedition commander granted 

Hooker this “meaningless title.”
This book lavishly illustrates the critical role 

that drawing has played in our understanding of 

plants and nature. Griggs does readers a service, 

presenting Hooker’s pencil sketches alongside his 

watercolor paintings and the paintings by Hooker’s 

talented collaborator, Walter Hood Fitch. Fitch, 

a botanical artist and lithographer, was also the 

illustrator for Curtis’s Botanical Magazine. The 

paintings and lithographs Fitch created for Hooker 

were based on Hooker’s field drawings. Excerpts 

from Joseph Hooker’s field journal and personal 

letters are also included in the book, and they 

offer a limited glimpse at the extensive notes and 

copious illustrations he must have created during 

his lifetime.
Hooker’s own plant studies, in pencil sketches and 

watercolors, are dynamic, with dissected plant parts 

that lead one to contemplate how each species is 

constructed. A list of references includes links to 

websites where readers can view digitized copies of 

Hooker’s books and field notes dating from 1849–

1878. Along with the historical text and botanical 

images in the book, Griggs provides an informative 

timeline of significant events in Joseph Hooker’s 

life. Prediction: peruse this tribute to Joseph 

Hooker, and you’ll get “hooked” on plants!
–Dorothea Bedigian, Research Associate, Missouri 

Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri, USA

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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012


Aquatic Plants of Pennsylvania: 

A Complete Reference Guide

Timothy A. Block and Ann Fowler Rhoads

2011. ISBN-13: 978-0-8122-4306-2

Hardcover, US$59.95. 320 pp.

University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadel-

phia, Pennsylvania, USA

Aquatic Plants of Pennsylvania: A Complete 

Reference Guide lives up to the status and caliber 

of the other botanical reference books for 

Pennsylvania written by the same authors, The 

Plants of Pennsylvania: An Illustrated Manual and 

The Trees of Pennsylvania: A Complete Reference 

Guide. In a similar format as these two previous 

reference materials, Aquatic Plants of Pennsylvania: 

A Complete Reference Guide provides the most 

accurate, up-to-date botanical information on 

aquatic plants in a reader-friendly, easy-to-use 


The book starts with a brief, informative 

introduction to aquatic plants and aquatic habitats 

in Pennsylvania, a region that includes such diverse 

components as glacial lakes, extensive wetlands, 

rivers, and the Delaware River estuary. A simple 

drawing of the phylogenetic relationships of aquatic 

plants is included, in which mosses, horsetails, and 

ferns are not pictured despite their isolated and 

relatively old branches on the green tree of life. 

The dichotomous keys used to identify aquatic 

plants are organized by growth habit and are easy 

enough for an amateur to use. The rest of the book 

is composed of detailed botanical descriptions 

that are both scientifically correct and easy to 

understand. We used this book to successfully key 

out aquatic plants in a Rutgers University college 

course last fall without any major problems. 

We found one mistake in the key, though, since 

Cabomba is keyed out under “leaves limp when 

lifted out of the water” and “leaves not crowded 

towards branch apices.” The species descriptions are 

detailed and adapted to a general public interested 

in nature more than expert botanists. Species are 

listed as either “native” or “introduced”; however, 

this refers to Pennsylvania only, since U.S. native 

species such as Cabomba caroliniana are listed as 


Color photographs, line drawings, and 

distribution maps of every species make this 

guide useful for both experts and amateurs alike. 

Unfortunately, the weakest part of the book is the 

illustrations—pen-and-ink drawings by Anna 

Anisko. There is often space for much larger 

illustrations with magnified details (flowers, 

fruits, leaf margins, etc.), but instead there are 

large empty white spaces with a smaller-than-

necessary simple drawing on it. For example, the 

drawings of charophyte algae could have been 

enlarged substantially. Important characters are 

not highlighted with precise illustrations and the 

quality of the drawings varies considerably, with 

some species having excellent, high-resolution 

drawings, and others much less so. 

Each species is accompanied by a distribution 

map showing major rivers, county borders, and the 

southern edge of the latest Wisconsin glaciation. 

Georeferenced specimen data are mapped onto 

these base maps and provide excellent spatial data. 

The color photos are mostly of excellent quality, but 

some common species are missing photos, such as 

watercress (which instead has half a white page, did 

the photo get lost?). 

Although distribution maps and illustrations are 

useful for identification, the book is not as compact 

as it could be due to these inclusions (194 species 

are covered in 308 pages). In fact, the book could 

have been made more as a field guide with less 

“white space,” a more compact formatting, and 

better illustration layouts. However, the book is still 

functional and condensed enough to be used in the 

field and contains excellent information. Whether 

you are new to botany or an expert in the field, an 

amateur naturalist or a professional biologist, a 

horticulturist or a natural resources manager, this 

book is an essential and useful addition for anyone 

dealing with aquatic plants in the mid-Atlantic 

region of North America.
– Lauren D. Spitz and Lena Struwe, Rutgers Univer-

sity, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA

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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

The Cape Orchids 

William R. Liltved and Steven D. Johnson

2012. ISBN-13: 978-0-9870197-0-7 (Stan-

dard edition);  ISBN-13: 978-0-9870197-3-8 

(Collectors’ edition)

Standard edition: US$380.00 (€305.00, 

240.00). Inquiries to capeorchids@gmail.


Hardcover, 2 vols., xix + 1022 pp. 

Sandstone Editions, Cape Town, South Africa

The Cape Floristic Region (CFR) comprises 

90,000 km


 and includes about 9100 plant species, 

70–80% of which are endemic, making it just about 

the hottest of biodiversity hotspots. Orchidaceae 

comprise the 10th largest plant family in the CFR 

with 24 genera and 241 species, two thirds of which 

are endemic. All have been treated in previous 

modern floras (e.g., Stewart et al., 1982; Linder and 

Kurzweil, 1999) from the angle of systematics with 

artificial keys to the taxa. The Cape Orchids focuses 

instead on natural history—what the authors call 

a holistic approach—to understand that unique 

orchid flora. Bound in two volumes with a full-

color slipcase, this title represents over 20 years 

of fieldwork and photography, supplemented by 

invited essays from 23 contributors. It includes more 

than 2000 color photographs and reproductions of 

both historical and modern paintings of the species 

printed on 128 gsm (about 80 lb.) matte art paper. 

As a result, the set is heavy, weighing 6 kg, hardly 

a convenient field guide that can be tossed into a 

stuffed backpack at the last minute. 

However, neither is it meant to be consigned to 

the coffee table. This is a masterwork that provides 

such an overwhelming amount of data that it can 

only be considered encyclopedic. The Introduction 

thoroughly covers the biomes and vegetation of 

the CFR as well as its geology, fossil plants and 

past climates, ethnobotany, habitat loss, and 

conservation status of South African orchids. That 

fascinating commentary is followed by authoritative 

chapters on the history of botanical exploration in 

the CFR from 1652 to the present with emphasis 

on the life and work of Harry Bolus (1834–1911), 

orchid morphology, fire ecology, pollination and 

natural hybridization, and cultivation and artificial 


Most of the two-volume set is devoted to 

species accounts, first the terrestrials and then the 

relatively few epiphytes. The systematic account 

of tribe Diseae in The Cape Orchids is in general 

accord with that of Kurzweil and Linder (2001) 

in volume 2 of Genera  Orchidacearum, although 

some updating has been necessary in light of more 

recent molecular studies by Bellstedt et al. (2001), 

Van der Niet et al. (2005), Bytebier et al. (2008), 

and Waterman et al. (2009). For each species, the 

authors include derivation of the specific epithet, 

common names, description, flowering period, 

history and relationships, distribution, field notes 

and biology, and references. Illustrating the habitats 

and key characters are high-definition photographs 

(principally by the authors and Austrian orchid 

photographer Herbert Stärker); historical 

watercolors from Edwards’s Botanical Register, 

Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, and Bolus’s Orchids 

of South Africa (among others); and modern 

watercolors by Fay Anderson, which are often 

juxtaposed with photographs to reveal features not 

otherwise shown. A fire in Ms. Anderson’s home 

in 1996 destroyed many of her paintings, but some 

could be salvaged and repainted for publication 


Many species accounts are supplemented with 

well-written, short essays on the collector or 

eponym of the species. One of the most interesting 

in this respect is Holothrix burchellii (Lindl.) Rchb.f., 

commemorating William John Burchell, who 

was trained as an apprentice at the Royal Botanic 

Gardens, Kew, and became a Fellow of the Linnean 

Society at the age of 21. He traveled throughout the 

Cape from November 1810 to October 1812 and 

described and illustrated his fieldwork in Travels 

in the Interior of Southern Africa. Burchell returned 

to England with over 40,000 plant specimens and 

120 skins of 95 quadrupeds and 265 bird taxa. He 

described the white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium 

simum  Burchell) and discovered Burchell’s zebra 

(Equus burchellii Gray) as well as the orchid 

genus  Pachites. Disabled and depressed, Burchell 

committed suicide at the age of 81. Essays on other 

well-known eponyms include Swedish botanists 

Carl Peter Thunberg and Olaf Peter Swartz, British 

astronomer Sir John Herschel, and British botanists 

John Lindley and Francis Masson. Masson’s 

specimen of the cycad Encephalartos altensteinii 

Lehm. (collected as E. longifolius (Jacq.) Lehm. in 

the Eastern Cape in the 1770s) is still thriving in 

the Palm House at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, 

making it one of the oldest pot-plants in the world.

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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012


A.V. HALL. 1982. Wild Orchids of Southern 

Africa. Macmillan South Africa, Johannesburg, 

South Africa.


and D. U. BELLSTEDT. 2005. Molecular 

markers reject monophyly of the subgenera of 

Satyrium. Systematic Botany 30: 263–274.


and V. SAVOLAINEN. 2009. Pollinators 

underestimated: A molecular phylogeny reveals 

widespread floral convergence in oil-secreting 

orchids (sub-tribe [sic] Coryciinae) of the Cape 

of South Africa. Molecular Phylogenetics and 

Evolution 51: 100–110.

–Alec Pridgeon, Sainsbury Orchid Fellow, Royal 

Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, United 


Volume 2 begins with a 350-page account of the 

180 species of Disa, arranged in 18 sections (17 

occurring in the CFR), and ends with coverage 

of the five genera of epiphytes found there—

Polystachya, Angraecum, Cyrtorchis, Mystacidium

and Tridactyle. The work closes with recent Cape 

orchid photographs, references to Cape orchids 

in Bolus’s published works, a glossary of botanical 

terms, vignettes of the authors and contributors, 

glossary, and index. 

A trivial criticism is that a given species account 

is difficult to find without consulting the index, 

and so the reader is forced to juggle the volumes 

for those taxa treated in volume 1. A quick locator 

list of the taxa by page number on the endpapers 

of each volume with corresponding page numbers 

would have been useful. In the Table of Contents, 

those few genera outside of tribe Diseae are listed 

without any systematic context; inclusion of at 

least their subfamily name in parentheses could 

have added significant systematic information 

(complementing Table 1 on page 15) with little loss 

of space. 

The wealth of data and treasury of superb 

illustrations make this one of the best regional 

monographs (regardless of plant family) in recent 

memory. I recommend The Cape Orchids to 

botanists in all disciplines and to institutional 

libraries, as it is a valuable work that will not soon 

become obsolete—barring extinctions, of course.


BELLSTEDT, D. U., H. P. LINDER, and E. H. 

HARLEY. 2001. Phylogenetic relationships 

in  Disa based on non-coding trnL-trnF 

chloroplast sequences: Evidence of numerous 

repeat regions. American Journal of Botany 88: 



LINDER. 2008. A new phylogeny-based 

sectional classification for the large African 

orchid genus Disa. Taxon 57: 1233–1251.

KURZWEIL, H., and H. P. LINDER. 2001. Tribe 

Diseae.  In A. M. Pridgeon, P. J. Cribb. M. W. 

Chase, and F. N. Rasmussen (eds.), Genera 

Orchidacearum, Volume 2. Orchidoideae (Part 

One) 11–58. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 

United Kingdom.

LINDER, H. P., and H. KURZWEIL. 1999. Orchids 

of Southern Africa. A. A. Balkema, Rotterdam, 


The Jepson Manual: Vascular 

Plants of California, 2nd ed.

Bruce G. Baldwin, Douglas H. Goldman, 

David J. Keil, Robert Patterson, Thomas J. 

Rosatti, and Dieter H. Wilken (eds.) 

2012. ISBN-13: 978-0-520-25312-4

Hardcover, US$125.00. 1568 pp. 

University of California Press, Berkeley, 

California, USA

The first Manual of the Flowering Plants of 

California (including ferns) was published by Willis 

Linn Jepson, professor at University of California, 

Berkeley, in 1925. This was an extremely important, 

but also somewhat overdue accomplishment 

because seven editions of Asa Gray’s Manual of 

Botany (covering the central and northeastern 

United States) and two editions of Britton and 

Brown’s An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United 

States and Canada had been already published at 

that time (Moore et al., 2010). After 1925, the first 

edition of Philip A. Munz’s A California Flora was 

published in 1959, and A California Flora and 

Supplement was published in 1968. Later, in 1993, 

the Jepson Herbarium at UC Berkeley, under the 

leadership of James C. Hickman, produced The 

Jepson Manual: Higher Plants of California (TJM1), 

effectively starting a tradition similar to Gray’s 

Manual of Botany. This year we got the second 

edition of 

The Jepson Manual (TJM2), resulting 

from revisions and new treatments accomplished 

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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

by 332 authors and/or editors, produced again by 

the Jepson Herbarium, but this time under the 

leadership of Bruce Baldwin.
First, it is interesting to compare numbers of 

families, genera, and species (total, native, endemic, 

and alien) included in the three “Jepson Manuals” 

(1925, 1993, 2012) and in the summary based on 

Munz’s “Floras” (Raven, 1977) (Table 1).


Obviously, the total numbers of families, genera, 

and species have been increasing almost linearly 

over the past 90 years. This is partly because of 

discoveries of native species new to California or 

even to science, partly because of naturalization of 

non-native species, and to some extent also because 

of changes in taxonomy, namely splitting of families 

and genera into monophyletic units (see below). 

However, the number of endemic species has been 

jumping up and down substantially depending on 

taxonomic delineation of species and improving 

knowledge of their distribution. 

To define the exact number of naturalized 

(permanently established) species is always difficult 

(Rejmánek, 2007). The authors of TJM2 tried to be 

more conservative and wanted to include only alien 

species conclusively naturalized in California. That 

explains a small drop in the number of alien species 

compared with TJM1. I can suggest only a few 

possible corrections: a few species called “waifs” 

(this is a rather endemic term; “casual” is the term 

more commonly used, see Pyšek et al., 2004) are 

included (Agrostema githago, Cucurbita pepo, 

Emex australis, Geranium solanderi, Lasiospermum 

bipinnatum, Triticum vulgare), while some 

naturalized species (Cuscuta japonica, Danthonia 

decumbens, Fraxinus uhdei, Geranium yeoi, 

Melianthus major, Pinus pinea [Santa Cruz Island], 

Rhamnus alaternus, Rhus lancea, Rytidosperma 

caespitosum, Solanum mauritianum, Veronica 

hederifolia) are not mentioned at all or just in keys 

or en passant in the text. Some species classified as 

native (Latin names in bold italic) are most likely 

alien (Galium tricornutum, Landoltia punctata, 

Phalaris arundinacea, Typha angustifolia). Still, the 

resulting numbers may indicate recent reduction 

of the rate of alien plants naturalization in 

California—a trend anticipated by Rejmánek and 

Randall (1994, Fig. 1).

In TJM2, the chapter on geologic, climatic, and 

vegetation history of California was completely 

rewritten by Constance Millar. The geographic 

subdivision section was revised and more accurate 

color maps were provided. There are 272 full plates 

(compared with 242 in the 1993 edition) illustrating 

about 80% of native and naturalized species. 

Genera are somewhat unevenly illustrated (8 of 8 

Polystichum species, 18 of 18 Pinus, but only 3 of 12 

of Botrychium, 3 of 13 of Eryngium, and 11 of 38 of 

Lomatium). However, in large and difficult genera 

(Astragalus, Carex, Eriogonum, Juncus, Lupinus, 

Mimulus [now in Phrymaceae], Salix), almost all 

species are illustrated! 

As with the TJM1, the index is not all-inclusive 

because the book is arranged alphabetically by 

family and species within each of the eight major 

clades. In addition, in order to make the volume as 

short as possible, only synonyms in use since TJM1 

are included and can be found in the index and 

the text; thus species that were moved to different 

genera in TJM2 can be found by looking in the 

index. However, if you have only TJM2, you will not 

be able to figure out what happened to one of the 

first species collected in California—Zauschneria 

californica C. Presl, which was moved to the genus 

Epilobium in TJM1. In this situation, you have to 

go to the online Index to California Plant Names; 

the website URL is provided inside the front cover. 

Despite all the editors’ attempts at space-saving, 

TJM2 is 168 pages longer than TJM1. Well, still 



















Native species





Endemic species





Alien species





Table 1. Comparison of numbers of families, genera, and species published in the Jepson Manuals and 

 in Munz’s Floras.

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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

but the relationships between many genera are still 

not completely resolved. Obviously, the authors 

tried their best, and the result is another milestone 

in Californian botanical literature. Editors and 

authors should be congratulated on this demanding 




An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny 

Group classification for the orders and 

families of flowering plants: APG II. 

Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 

141: 399–436.

HAMASHA, H. R., K. B. VON HAGEN, and M. 

RÖSER. 2012. Stipa (Poaceae) and allies in the 

Old World: Molecular phylogenetics realigns 

genus circumscription and gives evidence on 

the origin of American and Australian lineages. 

Plant Systematics and Evolution 298: 351–367.



2008. Dated historical biogeography of the 

temperate Loliinae (Poaceae, Pooideae) grasses 

in the northern and southern hemispheres. 

Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 46: 932–



2010. A brief history of Asa Gray’s Manual of 

BotanyHarvard Papers in Botany 15: 277–286.



KIRSCHNER. 2004. Alien plants in checklists 

and floras: Towards better communication 

between taxonomists and ecologists. Taxon 53: 

RAVEN, P. H. 1977. The California flora. In M. 

G. Barbour and J. Major (eds.), Terrestrial 

Vegetation of California, 109–137. John Wiley & 
Sons, New York, New York, USA.

REJMÁNEK, M. 2007. Book review on Weeds of 

California and Other Western States by J. M. 

DiTomaso and E. A. Healy. Madroño 54: 361–


REJMÁNEK, M., and J. M. RANDALL. 1994. 

Invasive alien plants in California: 1993 

summary and comparison with other areas in 

North America. Madroño 41: 161–177.

Many taxonomic changes were made in 

TJM2. The authors followed mostly the APG II 

(Angiosperm Phylogeny Group, 2003) classification 

of vascular plant families, which emphasizes 

monophyletic taxonomy. Goodbye Aceraceae, 

Asclepiadaceae, Hydrophyllaceae, Lemnaceae; 

nevertheless, Chenopodiaceae are still kept separate 

from Amaranthaceae. The relationships of all 

families, as currently understood, are shown on the 

back endpaper, along with the page numbers where 

they are treated. For convenience, within each 

of the eight major clades, families are presented 

alphabetically. Genera within families are also 

organized in alphabetic order. It seems that the 

prevailing tendency was to split many genera and 

even some families (for example, the Liliaceae of 

TJM1 has been split into 12 families, Caprifoliaceae 

into three, Aster has been broken up into seven 

genera, Camissonia into nine, Cupressus into three, 

Gilia into five, Gnaphalium  into four, Hemizonia 

into three, Madia into six, Mitella  into three

Polygonum  into five, Potentilla into four). This, 

however, does not seem to be true for the grasses, 

where rather drastic lumping was the rule. Some of 

these mergers may be justified (Lolium and Vulpia 

are merged into Festuca; Inda et al., 2008), but others 

are clearly erroneous (Piptatherum miliaceum is 

treated as Stipa miliacea!). The classification of 

some groups of grasses is also not in agreement with 

recently published volumes of the Flora of North 

America. Moreover, it is not even in agreement 

with most recent molecular studies of phylogeny in 

these groups (Romanchenko et al., 2010; Hamasha 

et al., 2012). Yes, our understanding of phylogeny 

in some groups of grasses is still not complete. 

However, putting many obviously different species 

into giant genera was premature. All local floras, 

databases, and herbaria in California will now 

follow this provisional taxonomy. In the future, 

all of that will have to be changed again. A more 

conservative approach would be less problematic. 

Many resources currently available in California 

made the completion of this manual easier. Just 

look at the Jepson Flora Project (http:/ucjeps. or at the Consortium 

of California Herbaria (http:/

consortium) websites to gain an appreciation of 

this fact. However, we have to realize that this was 

a difficult time for the taxonomic reorganization of 

a manual covering so many species. Many major 

changes in phylogenetically-based taxonomy at 

the family level have been accepted since 1993, 

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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

voucher specimens for every photograph, including 

full label data and herbaria of deposit.

The treatments all include place of publication 

of accepted names, but not for names cited in 

synonymy—one assumes these are given in the first 

volume of the series. Likewise, no type specimens 

are cited, though they doubtless were earlier. The 

work concludes with a thorough taxonomic index. 

There is no Literature Cited, because the only 

citations are those accompanying the accepted 


Professor Hong was a co-author of the treatment 

for  Flora of China (volume 6, 2001). In an 

introductory remark in that volume, it was observed 

that “Paeonia is a very complex genus and many of 

the species are not yet well defined. A consistent 

taxonomic treatment will require further studies 

throughout the world distribution of the genus in 

order to resolve questions about the limits of, and 

relationships between, the species.” It appears that 

Professor Hong has done precisely that.
–Neil A. Harriman, Biology Department, University 

of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, USA.



SUSANNA. 2010. Phylogenetics of Stipeae 

(Poaceae: Pooideae) based on plastid and nuclear 

DNA sequences. In O. Seberg, G. Petersen, A. S. 

Barfod, and J. Davis (eds.), Diversity, Phylogeny, 

and Evolution in Monocotyledons, 511–537. 

Aarhus University Press, Aarhus, Denmark. 

–Marcel Rejmánek, University of California, Davis, 

California, USA

Peonies of the World: Polymor-

phism and Diversity 

Hong De-Yuan

2011. ISBN-13: 978-1-84246-458-8

Hardback, US$113.40 (£70.00). xvi + 94 pp. 

Kew Publishing, Royal Botanic Gardens, 

Kew, Richmond, Surrey, United Kingdom

This the second of a projected three-volume 

series titled Peonies of the World. Its predecessor 

volume is subtitled Taxonomy and Phytogeography 

(2010, $145.80 at, but up 

to $300 elsewhere); its final volume will be subtitled 

Phylogeny and Evolution. It may be noted in passing 

that the parts that have appeared thus far are not 

furnished with volume numbers, although some 

booksellers have added them, for clarity.

The work begins with a very detailed “Key to 

Species,” which is at the same time a key to all the 

recognized subgeneric categories as well. There are 

in all 33 species of the genus Paeonia, the sole genus 

of the Paeoniaceae, all north-temperate woody and 

herbaceous perennials. The names at the ends of 

the legs of the key are not accompanied by page 

numbers, which would have been helpful; the 

arrangement is of course not alphabetical. The keys 

appear to be very usable. The vast array of garden 

hybrids and horticultural races are necessarily not 

included in the keys, nor in the descriptive text. 

There are no nomenclatural innovations published 


The work is lavishly illustrated with color 

photographs of the species in the wild, following a 

detailed description and range statement. There are 

10 or more photographs for each species, showing 

habitat, habit, flowers (both front and back), fruits, 

and below-ground parts. The labels are quite ample. 

A welcome feature is that the author has preserved 

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Air Plants: Epiphytes and Aerial Gardens. David H. Benzing. 2012. 
ISBN-13: 978-0-8014-5043-3 (Cloth US$39.95) 248 pp. Comstock Pub-
lishing Associates, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York, USA.

Baja California Plant Field Guide, 3rd Edition.


Jon P. Rebman



Norman C. Roberts. 2012. ISBN-13: 978-0-9162-5118-5 (Flex US$34.95) 
448 pp. San Diego Natural History Museum with Sunbelt Publications, El 
Cajon, California, USA.

Beta maritima: The Origin of Beets. Enrico Biancardi, Leonard W. Pan-
ella, and Robert T. Lewellen. 2012. ISBN-13: 978-1-4614-0841-3 (Cloth 
€149.95) 293 pp. Springer Verlag, Heidelberg, Germany.

 Caribbean Forest Tapestry: The Multidimensional Nature of dis-
turbance and Response.
 Nicholas Brokaw, Todd A. Crowl, Ariel E. 
Lugo, William H. McDowell, Frederick N. Scatena, Robert B. Waide, 
and Michael R. Willig (eds.). 2012. ISBN-13: 978-0-19-533469-2 (Cloth 
US$74.99) 460 pp. Oxford University Press, New York, New York, USA.

The Evolutionary Relevance of Vegetative Long-shoot/Short-shoot 
Differentiation in Gymnospermous Tree Species.
 Martin Dörken. 2012. 
ISBN-13: 978-3-510-48032-6 (Paper €94.00) 93 pp. Schweizerbart Sci-
ence Publishers, Stuttgart, Germany.

Huanduj: Brugmansia. Alistair Hay, Monika Gottschalk, and Adolfo 
Holguin. 2012. ISBN-13: 978-1-84246-477-9 (Cloth US$110.00) 424 pp. 
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, distributed by University of Chicago Press, 
Chicago, Illinois, USA.

Images of the Morphology and Anatomy of Seedless Vascular Plants 
and Gymnosperms. 
R. Larry Peterson, Dean P. Whittier, and Lewis H. 
Melville. 2011. ISBN-13: 978-0-9877172-0-7. (DVD) Canadian Science 
Publishing, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. 

Natural Products Isolation, 3rd Edition. Satyajit D. Sarker, Lutfun Na-
har (eds.). 2012. ISBN-13: 978-1-61779-623-4 (Cloth US$159.00) 552 pp. 
Humana Press, Springer Science + Business Media, New York, New York, 

Books Received

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Plant Science Bulletin 58(3) 2012

Plant DNA Fingerprinting and Barcoding: Methods and Protocols
Nikolaus J. Sucher, James R. Hennell & Maria C. Carles (eds.). 2012. 
ISBN-13: 978-1-61779-608-1 (Cloth US$119.00) 202 pp. Humana Press, 
Springer Science + Business Media, New York, New York, USA.

Plant Signalling Networks: Methods and Protocols. Zhi-Yong Wang 
and Zhenbiao Yang (eds.). 2012. ISBN-13: 978-1-61779-808-5 (Cloth 
US$119.00) 230 pp. Humana Press, Springer Science + Business Media, 
New York, New York, USA.

Plants of the Chesapeake Bay: A Guide to Wildflowers, Grasses, 
Aquatic Vegetation, Trees, Shrubs, and Other Flora
. Lytton John Mus-
selman and David A. Knepper. 2012. ISBN-13: 978-1-4214-0498-1 (Paper 
US$24.95) 216 pp. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Mary-
land, USA.

Systematics, Biodiversity and Ecology of Lichens. Ingvar Kärnefelt, 
Mark R. D. Seaward, and Arne Thell. 2012. ISBN-13: 978-3-443-58087-2 
(Paper €87.00) 290 pp. J. Cramer, Begrüder Borntraeger Verlagsbuchhand-
lung, Stuttgart, Germany.

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Plant Science Bulletin 

 Featured Image

Fall 2012 Volume 58 Number 3

Plant Science 


ISSN 0032-0919 

Published quarterly by  

Botanical Society of America, Inc.  

4475 Castleman Avenue 

St. Louis, MO 63166-0299 

Periodicals postage is paid at St. 

Louis, MO & additional mailing 



Send address changes to:

Botanical Society of America 

Business Office 

P.O. Box 299 

St. Louis, MO 63166-0299 

The yearly subscription rate of $15 is 

included in the membership  

Address Editorial Matters (only) to: 

Marshall D. Sundberg 


Department of Biological Sciences  

Emporia State University  

1200 Commercial St. 

Emporia, KS 66801-5057 

Phone 620-341-5605

The Botanical Society of 

America is a membership 

society whose mission  is to: 

promote botany, the field of 

basic science dealing with the 

study & inquiry into the form, 

function, development, diversity, 

reproduction, evolution, & uses 

of plants & their interactions 

within the biosphere.|

The PLANTS Grant Recipients 

The PLANTS program (Preparing Leaders and Nurturing 

Tomorrow’s Scientists: Increasing the diversity of plant scientists) 

recognizes outstanding undergraduates from throughout the US 

who attend the BOTANY meeting, receive mentoring from graduate 

students, postdocs and faculty, and participate in networking events 

including the Diversity Luncheon and career-oriented activities.  The 

program covers the normal costs of travel, registration, and food and 

accommodation at the meetings.  This grant is funded by the Botanical 

Society of America and the National Science Foundation.  We will be 

accepting applicants for the 2013 PLANTS program early in the new 


The 2012 PLANTS grant recipients are:

Dominique Alvis, University of Maryland-Baltimore - Advisor, Dr.  



Mauricio Bustos

Haydee Borrero, Florida International University - Advisor, Dr. Suzanne Koptur
Maria Friedman, Humboldt State University - Advisor, Dr. Erik Jules
Erin Fujimoto, University of Hawaii at Manoa - Advisor, Dr. Tom Ranker
Victoria Hanna, University of California-Irvine - Advisor, Dr. Kailen  Mooney
Sean Gershaneck, University of Hawai’i at Manoa - Advisor, Dr. Pattie Dunn
Lauren Gonzalez, University of New Orleans - Advisor, Dr. Charles Bell
Alexandria Igwe, Howard University - Advisor, Dr. Mary McKenna
Caprice Lee, University of California-Davis, Dr. Sharman O’Neill
Jamie Minnaert-Grote, George Mason University - Advisor, Dr. Andrea Weeks
Rylan Sprague, Black Hills State University - Advisor, Dr. Benjamin van Ee
Brittany Stallworth, Howard University - Advisor, Dr. Mary McKenna
Dori Thompson, Texas State University—San Marcos - Advisor, Dr. Garland  


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July 26-31, 2013 

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Celebrating               Diversity

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Join these scientific societies for Botany 2013

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