Plant Science Bulletin archive

Issue: 1961 v7 No 2 SummerActions


A Publication of the Botanical Society of America, Inc.

VOLUME 7   MAY 1961   NUMBER 2

Do We Need a National Center for Plant Sciences?

RALPH H. WETMORE Harvard University

In the United States of America we have probably 35,000-40,000 active plant scientists, all belonging to at least one of some 25 professional societies. Despite this large aggregate of scientists responsible for instruction and scientific progress in plant sciences, there is no single professional body, no common office nor officers, no place to obtain general information, no common responsibility for education of our people, young or older, about plants and plant sciences in our schools or colleges. In fact, in a country in which plants contribute largely to our economy, there has been too little concern about the core of knowledge or training necessary to interest people in plants or to train them to be plant scientists. For their own reasons, the chemists of the nation have developed a national American Chemical Society with an office in Washington. The physicists are represented by a national office and organization in New York, the American Institute of Physics, concerned with national problems. Other groups in Science are similarly organized nationally. The Council of the Botanical Society of America considered the problem at its August meeting of 1958. In the autumn of that year Prof. F. W. Went, then President of the Society, appointed a Committee to consider the need for a national organization, and the responsibility of the Society to it. This Committee consisted of Harold C. Bold, R. H. Goodwin, J. E. Canright, John A. Behnke, and R. H. Wetmore as Chair-man. Later, A. J. Sharp was added.

The first meeting of this Committee was held at Bloomington, Indiana, in January, 1959. After exploring the dimensions of its assignment, the Committee was forced to recognize that the situation was one it alone could not resolve. The Botanical Society of America has only some 2,275 members. The greater number of the 35,000-40,000 plant scientists belong to numerous, separate organizations with a relatively small overlapping membership with the Botanical Society. The Committee therefore resolved that, (1) the possible end was worth an effort to determine the existence of common interests and larger objectives than those of any single society; (2) the effort could not be made without financial aid for sampling of opinion, and such sampling could only be obtained by enlisted personnel provided with time and money for travel and for group meetings. In consequence, the Committee voted unanimously that the Botanical Society through its President apply to the National Science Foundation for a Grant to enable its Committee or its representative to canvass the various plant societies to determine which ones might be interested in a central organization. It was thought that such an organization could he concerned with national problems related to all aspects of plant sciences, and their place in our educational program in both high schools and colleges, their place in agriculture and horticulture, in our economy, in the conservation of our national resources including our forests, and in our national parks and reservations with concern for wild life and fisheries.

An application was filed in December, 1959, by President William C. Steere of the Botanical Society for a grant to be made to permit the Botanical Society of America to make such a study within a year of receipt of the Grant. In early August, 196o, this grant was made. The Committee of the Botanical Society quickly arranged for a meeting to be held at Stillwater, Oklahoma, at the time of the A.I.B.S. Meetings in August, 196o. Twelve societies named representatives to attend the meeting, representing over 15,000 plant scientists.

At this Stillwater meeting, the following resolutions were unanimously voted after an extended free discussion and sampling of opinion:

  1. "Resolved that the representatives of the several societies assembled recommend the implementation of the Grant from the National Science Foundation to the A.I.B.S. on behalf of the Botanical Society of America for a study of the feasibility of the centralization of the Plant Sciences by appointing a Coordinator who will explore ways and means of coordinating the activities of the several plant sciences and their plant societies.

  2. "Resolved that the representatives of the several societies assembled feel it is desirable that the coordination and centralization of the plant sciences and their professional societies be effected within the framework of the A.I.B.S., if possible.

  3. "Resolved that it be recommended to each society that it appoint a representative to a national committee of plant societies to serve on a continuing basis throughout the duration of this project.

  4. "Resolved that the original committee of the Botanical Society select and appoint the Coordinator with latitude in arrangements, according to the commitments of the appointee, with regard to the time of the initiation and the duration of the appointment."

These resolutions were reported to the annual meetings of

(Continued on page 2)



Rutgers—The State University
40 Rector Street, Newark 2, New Jersey


HARLAN P. BANKS   Cornell University

NoRMAN H. BOKE   University of Oklahoma

ELSIE QUARTERMAN    Vanderbilt University

ERICH STEINER    University of Michigan

MAY, 1961   •   VOLUME 7, NO. 2

CHANGES OF ADDRESS: Notify the Treasurer of the Botanical Society of America, Inc., Dr. A. J. Sharp, Department of Botany, University of Tennessee, Knoxville 16, Tennessee.

SUBSCRIPTIONS for Libraries and persons not members of the Botanical Society are obtainable at the rate of $2.00 a year. Send orders with checks payable to "Botanical Society of America, Inc." to the business manager, Dr. Lawrence J. Crockett, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Tea-neck, New Jersey.

MATERIAL SUBMI'1 IED FOR PUBLICATION should be typewritten, double-spaced, and sent in duplicate to the Editor.

Do We Need a National Center
for Plant Sciences?

(Continued from page 1)

the participating societies. Already a number of members have been named for the responsible joint committee which will replace the committee appointed by the Botanical Society. In the meantime, the members of the original committee and the President of the Botanical Society, Kenneth V. Thimann, have met with the officers of the A.I.B.S. (Nov. 19, 1960) (1) to determine the attitude of A.I.B.S. to a proposal of these dimensions if it were to be recommended for action after study; (2) to explore some-thing of the benefits which might accrue to plant sciences and plant scientists if a plan of coordination were approved; (3) to consider the possible financing of the centralized organization, if the report from the Plant Scientists' committee proved favorable after study; and (q) to name a Coordinator for the study.

The discussion proved satisfying. The Executive Secretary of A.I.B.S. and his Assistant were strongly hopeful that the study would show that all of the Plant Sciences are interested in coordinated effort and coordinated representation in a nationally organized center within the A.I.B.S. organization. In fact the suggestion was made that, if it materialized, this aggregation should be recognized as the Federation of Plant Sciences within the American Institute of Biological Sciences, with a Plant Scientist as Associate Director to the Executive Directorship of the A.I.B.S.

It was felt that the study should be made by a Coordinator named by Plant Scientists instead of turning it over to the A.I.B.S., for the Grant was made to the Botanical Society to enable it to be responsible for this study. More-over, it seemed quite inappropriate and unfair to ask A.I.B.S. to carry out an assignment not of its own planning.

General discussion of the values to Plant Sciences of a central office removed any present doubts from the minds of the participants as to the undoubted gains which could result from the coordinated effort of the multiple societies. A central office with a coordinating officer could direct common effort for the general good. Such activities as the development of teaching programs in Biology in the nation's high schools, and of motion picture films and associated textbooks, presently being supported by grants to the A.I.B.S., could be more effectively aided if botanists were so organized on a broad basis. Initiative could also be taken with respect to the improvement of curricula at the college level, wherever the teaching of botany is involved.

That refresher courses have been prepared and offered for teachers in Botany for some summers under the aegis of the Botanical Society of America is a chance. The objective was to give an opportunity to catch up for those teachers of Botany who have been teaching in college for numerous years and who feel that they are getting further behind each year. With salaries too low to permit an occasional trip to a summer school, too low to allow the teacher to take the requisite numbers of journals or buy the necessary books, such teachers have the right to be discouraged. This move made by the Botanical Society, financed by the National Science Foundation, giving six weeks of preparation of the teaching of various aspects of botany by the best teachers in the field at no cost to the participants is surely in the right direction. But this move is only a drop in a bucket for 50 teachers a summer is too few. While many institutes are being run, and all are helpful, institutes run by botanists for botanists can be aimed higher and made to reach more people, for several might be run per season, not just a single one. Teachers and teaching, keeping up-to-date, salaries, production of adequate and proper films in the field, 'representation of Botany in college or high school curricula, assessment and evaluation of textbooks and many such problems need and should receive constant action on the part of an organization assigned with responsibility, and carefully staffed to carry out the assignments. On broader lines, the increasing importance of conservation, water purification, reforestation, and scientific agriculture on the national scene make it desirable that the basic sciences underlying these activities have some representation in the National Capital. Then too, A.I.B.S. officers pointed out that considerable membership, financial, and editorial business of individual societies can be pooled at an efficient and economical level. By the organization for larger volumes of business through the purchase of more ex-pensive but more efficient common facilities in one center, a considerable fraction of the time of numerous officers can be saved for their own investigations. For example, in editorial work, with individual editors selecting their material for each journal, even as they do now, it should be true that much of the remainder of the preparation of copy could be handled in a central office with expert service maintained because of the number of journals involved. Publication savings, if a dozen societies participate and modern economical methods are invoked, have been


conservatively estimated to be at least 15%. This would mean that joint membership in more than one society, including receipt of the respective journals, could then be obtained at a definitely reduced rate.

In fact, careful calculation of the cost of running a national office within the organization of A.I.B.S., of sharing in the facilities offered by a going concern and of paying only a proportional share suggests that the overall charge per member will probably not be greater than now. It may even be less. This estimate assumes that the first two years of getting offices organized, staffed and integrated with A.I.B.S. facilities may be more costly and help may have to be solicited from an outside agency. But given such a start, we should be in business at a national level, with proper personnel to recognize our needs as plant scientists, to meet our challenges and opportunities as members of the several Plant Societies. We can individually see numerous places and directions in which our own national organization can be more effective.

I have now the privilege of stating that the Coordinator chosen by the Committee is Professor Richard H. Goodwin, Chairman of the Department of Botany, Connecticut College, New London, Connecticut. Dr. Goodwin has been released from some of his responsibility for the spring semester of this academic year by President Park of Connecticut College to enable him to accept this challenge. He will make his headquarters in New London, but the survey of opinion as to the desirability, or, even stronger, the necessity of setting up national headquarters for Plant Sciences will take him over the United States. It is to be hoped that we shall all recognize this as an opportunity and a challenge, not just as one more crack-pot idea. If he visits your campus, talk to him or listen to him, raise queries, but make up your mind whether this move ought to be made or not. If you do not see him and have questions, write to him. As he has to prepare a report indicating society approval or non-approval before the A.I.B.S. meetings in Purdue, he can do little more than see officials of the several societies, sample opinion, resolve difficulties and eventually assemble his findings into a report. He bids for your help when and if he has to solicit it.

The original committee entered this investigation with uncertainty and concern. At present, I believe I speak for each of its members and for all others, officers of societies, officers of A.I.B.S., etc. who have met with us at one time or another when I state that the vision of what can be done for Plant Sciences through the facilities of A.I.B.S. and with our own efforts has engendered enthusiasm on a Iarge scale. It became clear that at long last plant scientists have the opportunity to realize the breadth and inclusiveness of their science as a whole and to participate in organizing it and developing its influence in a manner consonant with its importance.

It is evident that no single plant science society will benefit more than another if this federation is effected. This should be a coordinated effort in its broadest sense. Members of societies should be to their group what their group of specialists wants them to be, but in addition, they will accept new responsibilities implicit in their national membership. Perhaps the only acclaim any one Society can get from this effort is a certain satisfaction in being the Society which "sparked" the move towards possible federation. It does seem that federation is a necessary move, the only question is whether the timing is correct. The N. S. F. Grant and Dick Goodwin's assignment would tell us whether all feel the time has come and we are ready to underwrite the responsibility. We do not evade this responsibility if we turn certain joint endeavors over to A.I.B.S. It will be, as it has been, the Center through which actions common to all biologists are considered and effectively carried through.

The United States National Tropical
Botanic Garden in Hawaii

S. 772

The Hawaiian Botanical Gardens Foundation, Inc. is a non-profit organization incorporated under the laws of the State of Hawaii on June 29, 1959, by a group of civic minded men and women for the purpose of encouraging the development of tropical gardens and horticulture in Hawaii.

A major concern of the Foundation is to instigate the establishment of a National Tropical Botanic Garden in Hawaii.

A bill to provide for a study and investigation of the desirability and feasibility of establishing and maintaining a National Tropical Botanic Garden, to be located in the State of Hawaii, was introduced in the Senate of the United States on February 2, 1961.

Purpose of the proposed garden is to provide facilities for basic scientific research and for applied science in the field of tropical botany, available to botanists and students from all parts of the world, and to develop a living collection of important tropical plants on American soil.

The bill. S. 772, was referred to the Committee on Agri-culture and Forestry. A similar bill was introduced in the House of Representatives.


Hawaiian Botanical Gardens Foundation, Inc.

THE NORTHEASTERN SECTION of the Botanical Society of America will hold its 1961 Summer Field Foray at Syracuse University from June 25-28, 1961. Information regarding the meetings will be sent to members of the Section by Dr. Norman J. Gillette, Department of Bacteriology and Botany, Syracuse University.

JAMES A. LOCKHART has been appointed to the staff of the Hawaii Agricultural Experiment Station, University of Hawaii, as Associate Plant Physiologist. He will study some of the basic principles of plant growth and their application to coffee, papaya, macadamia nuts and other Hawaiian crops.


The Botanical Garden As An Outdoor Teaching Laboratory

The following are condensations of papers presented at a symposium before the Teaching Section of the Botanical Society of America at Stillwater, Oklahoma, on August 30, 1960. A fourth paper on the botanical garden in relation to elementary schools was presented by Dr. George S. Avery of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Since it was informal in nature and related to certain demonstration materials, Dr. Avery felt that it did not lend itself to inclusion here.



Longwood Gardens

The Botanic garden has long served as an approach to a better knowledge of Economic Botany. The earliest botanic gardens were living collections of economic plants. These were the "physick gardens" of Europe, wherein were to be found medicinal plants.

Included in the field of Economic Botany is the study of all plants which have been used in any way by man—whether it be an aboriginal use, a chemurgic use, a horticultural use, or any other type of use.

Touching upon so many and varied fields, it is not surprising that people in general have a natural interest in utilitarian plants. Visitors to botanic gardens, are as much interested in the uses of plants on display as in any other single thing.

However, I am continually amazed at both teaching and research botanists who still shy away from discussions of economic species. These very folks, it seems to me, should bring in economic botany as one of the most useful adjuncts for initiating and stimulating greater interest in the plant world. The rewards for botanical science would be great.

Botanical gardens (including arboreta, experiment station collections, plant introduction gardens, etc.) are logical places to see and learn about living plants, including the economic species. The proper maintenance and display of its living collections are a botanic garden's greatest responsibility, even surpassing its research endeavors. The latter activities (including such facets as herbarium and laboratory research) can be and are duplicated many times over by other institutions and organizations. On the other hand no other, or few other, institutions or organizations can maintain living collections of plants.

Assuming, then, that botanic gardens include economic species among their living collections, how can these plants serve as "an approach to economic botany?"

The prime purpose is to show the visitor the habit and nature of economic species. How much additional information can be gotten across depends upon the type of visitor. Presumably, visitors to most botanic gardens fall roughly in the same categories as those who visit Longwood Gar-dens: i) General Public—the largest proportion; 2) Special Groups—garden clubs, boy and girl scouts, and other similar organizations; 3) School Groups—all levels from elementary to university.

This year at Longwood we expect close to 500,000 visitors. When you multiply the total by the visitor totals of our other botanic gardens, you will get an idea of the great opportunity that botanic garden folks have in acquainting people, even in a small way, with plants and botany.

The type of economic plant collections that any botanic garden can maintain depends to some degree upon the visitor categories mentioned above as well as upon the location of the garden with respect to visitor population. The wise botanic garden administrator has to spoon-feed the general public, but will try to learn from his more knowledgeable visiting groups what sort of special displays should be set up. The presence, for example, of a textile school or college of pharmacy nearby might call for special permanent display gardens of textile and medicinal plants.

Actually, for ease in maintenance and in teaching, most botanic gardens segregate their economic displays into special economic gardens or conservatory collections, de-pending upon whether the species are temperate or tropical. There are usually further subdivisions into specialty gar-dens.

The more typical economic species are generally assembled in "economic" gardens which may be further sub-divided into the several economic plant classifications—oil plants, cereals, fumitories, etc. This is the classical botanic garden method of displaying economic species and probably is still the best.

However, are there not other facts concerning economic species other than merely their identities that could possibly be brought out in a living demonstration collection? Although all plants would not lend themselves to such display, it might be possible to demonstrate specific harvesting techniques or methods of producing certain plant products. In the northeast we all have sugar maples in our collections, but what botanic garden has demonstrated how maple sap is collected. In the same way, either outdoors or in greenhouse collections, it would not be difficult to show such interesting things as latex production, retting of fibers, or enfleurage—in all cases using living specimens. In another direction a map garden, showing geographical origins of important economic plants would, I am sure, hold much interest. The primitive ancestors of our cultivated species ought also to be grown side by side with their important descendants to show what man has done; while along similar lines a living genealogy of the results of plant breeding (for example, the Peace Rose and its origin) would be very rewarding to visitors.

Since the public's interest in the green world has been increasing steadily over the years, it is obvious that the botanic garden will have even greater future opportunities to demonstrate the human interest approach to the plant world through economic botany.




The New York Botanical Garden

Nothing is more difficult to prove convincingly than the obvious, and I take it for granted that a botanical garden is a taxonomic tool so that I cannot imagine a contrary situation. To be forced by necessity to explore the anatomy of my conviction that a botanical garden is almost by definition a taxonomic tool, and that a so-called botanical garden or arboretum without teaching and research interests is only a park, provides healthy self-discipline for me.

The basic proposition of all botanical gardens is a collection of plants, and so we immediately perceive the need for some sort of systematic arrangement of the plants from which taxonomy naturally develops. It is no accident that the important centers of taxonomic research and teaching grew up around the various great botanical gardens of Europe.

The early recognition of relationships among plants and the consequent development of the concept of families and orders of plants arose long before the advent of the theory of evolution and our present-day ideas of phylogeny, just from the evidence of observing many kinds of plants growing together in botanical gardens.

The large botanical gardens of the world, then, combine with their recreational and park functions the creative re-search potential made possible by enormous collections of living plants outdoors and under glass.

The "Illustrated Guide to Kew" says: "Kew Gardens, it must be remembered, primarily serve scientific purposes. The Institution has as its main objectives the accurate identification of plants and the provision of information in the field of botany, both pure and applied...."

"By a large proportion of those who come to Kew, it is thought of rather as a place of recreation than as a scientific institution, but valuable as the former service is, it must be appreciated as a by-product of the Institution's main purpose, and therefore the usage of the gardens by the public must not be allowed to hamper its chief functions as a scientific establishment. Fortunately, the proper safeguarding of the living collections and their efficiency is the best guarantee that the public will obtain the maximum enjoyment from them without detriment to botanical science."

The systematic gardens at Kew and in other European botanical gardens are excellent tools for self-instruction in taxonomy as well as for formal teaching purposes. One sees many visitors in them, both students, and adults, busily occupied with taking notes. In my own opinion, the systematic arrangements of plants in some area of a botanical garden is of utmost importance, in spite of disparaging and irreverent remarks about "botanical grave yards," and the admitted tendency of even closely related plants to conflict in size and shape, and for their flower colors to clash. Seeing related plants together—and alive—helps students understand the concept of plant families and other major taxa more easily than any other method I know.

The use of botanical gardens as outdoor laboratories for taxonomy falls into several categories based on the intellectual level and the degree of motivation of the users, as follows:

r. The casual learning of the names of a few trees or other plants by the inspection of labels in a park, aboretum or botanical garden. Any botanical garden, even of the smallest size, can satisfy this "idle curiosity" function, although it should of course make some attempt to create and to stimulate a real interest. Carefully planned, informative labels are a "must" at this level.

  1. The motivated learning through self-teaching or through organized courses and educational programs of the names of horticultural and native plants by serious amateurs. This is a more serious responsibility of botanical gardens, which requires very considerable preparation and activity by professional staff members. During the past two summers, The New York Botanical Garden has conducted a Summer Institute in Botany for gifted high school students, in which the students were introduced to the field of taxonomy, among other botanical topics.

  2. Formal teaching for credit, at the high school or under-graduate college level, whether for students taking a general program or for those planning to enter the field of botany or some related science. In any elementary course in botany or biology, the botanical garden is truly an excel-lent outdoor laboratory for teaching the various types of plants, and their structure and modifications, as related to taxonomy. For more advanced courses that center on taxonomy, the identification of plants, learning the local flora, becoming acquainted with the major plant families, and learning something about the basis of phylogeny, class work in a botanical garden or arboretum is so highly desirable as to be essential.

  3. The professional training of graduate students, either for some background in taxonomy or for actual specialization in this field for advanced degrees, as the master's or doctor's. This level of teaching and the continuing research in taxonomic problems by staff members places the highest requirements on botanical gardens, and it is in these areas, as already pointed out, that the great botanical gardens of the world function most effectively. Even though plants grown away from their native environment and climate may not necessarily develop in a completely typical manner, they still contribute enormously to an understanding of the taxonomy of any group.

Most of the great botanical gardens of the world, in addition to their collections of living plants, also maintain excel-lent library facilities and an herbarium of dried reference specimens representing not only the plants growing in the garden but also plants from all parts of the world. In fact, the four primary facilities of any botanical garden that is actively engaged in research and education in plant sciences are the collections of living plants (both out of doors and under glass), the library, the herbarium, and the laboratory.

In summary, the effectiveness with which a botanical


garden may serve as a taxonomic tool varies in direct pro-portion with the richness of its collections. To serve as a research tool, the botanical garden must have both specialized and representative collections that, in addition to all the other responsibilities, may reflect the specific research interests of individual staff members and graduate students.



Los Angeles State and County Arboretum

The role of a Botanic Garden or Arboretum as a research center will vary from one Botanic Garden to another as much as the objectives of the individual Botanic Gardens vary. Certainly there are seldom, if ever, two Botanic Gar-dens with identical objectives, and likewise their role as research centers are not identical. The privately endowed institution, for example, may have greater freedom in the choice of its research projects than a tax supported institution which needs to include applied as well as basic re-search. However, no matter what the choice of the research program may be; as a research center, the Botanic Garden should function to stimulate ideas and imagination, which are the bases for research and new knowledge.

Since it is both the research and the education program that distinguish an arboretum or botanic garden from a horticultural park there is no question that the garden should function as a research center. It is only when this activity is included that the plant collections and physical plant of the Botanic Garden achieve their greatest return on the investment and operate at maximum efficiency and effectiveness for the science of botany and horticulture.

The garden, and accompanying herbarium and library, should not be considered as contributing only to research in taxonomic botany but as contributing to physiology, morphology, pathology, microbiology, and other fields of botany as well.

The research program of tax supported botanic gardens, in addition to basic research projects in botany, should include projects, of an applied nature, which serve the community that supports the institution.

There are many problems of basic ecology, for example, as we try to discover which plants can live in association with which others, of physiology having to do with flowering, nutrition and so on, and of insects and disease. Basic knowledge concerning all of these aspects of our introduced plants is desirable not only because basic knowledge always is valuable but also because the growing populations of our communities wish to have and use the knowledge. Botanic Gardens and arboreta have a responsibiltiy for developing this knowledge in their role as a research center for their region. It is a need of the community to have a place where these research programs can be conducted.

This responsibility and trend was formally recognized by the Advisory Council of the National Arboretum in their statement on research activities of The United States National Arboreum, October 7, 1957, in reviewing the trends since 1947, ten years earlier, when they concluded:

"Extensive developments in home building, the changing over of rural into urban areas, an increase in leisure time, and the enlargement of interest in the recreational aspects and value of ornamental horticulture, have greatly increased the need for applicable information in this field. Interest, too, in the beautification of roadsides, the development of parks, parkways, and recreational areas, has in-creased many fold. Intimate, workable knowledge of the problems involved and the values of different woody and other plants for such purposes is most desirable. Investigations in this field are well within the aims, scope, and purpose of the National Arboretum."

The activities of a Botanic Garden as a research center for plants is also clearly recognized by the Russians. In a recent article in the Journal of Horticulture, the deputy director of the Moscow Botanic Garden stated their three main objectives to be: 1. Investigations of culture and introduction of new plants of economic value. 2. Investigations of cultural methods for growing plants and introduction of new plants for metropolitan areas, and 3. Distribution of this knowledge (i.e. education).

In the United States the introduction of "new plants of economic value" i.e. crop plants generally falls under agricultural research by Federal and State agencies; however, except for Arboreta and Botanic Gardens, there is no agency responsible for similar research exclusively for the home-owner. To a certain extent, in regard to applied research Arboreta and Botanic Gardens play their research center role as an "Experiment Station for Home-owner's."

Discussion has been, thus far, on aspects of basic and applied research programs conducted by the permanent staff of the botanic garden. There is in addition, research conducted by visiting scientists, student researchers, and not to be discounted, the devoted amateur scientist.

The opportunity for students to use the research facilities at a botanic garden and their living plant collections for training in research is a further important activity of the garden as a research center. Training in the scientific method of research through simple projects with plants can begin in a botanic garden even at the elementary school level.

In summary, Botanic Gardens and Arboreta functioning as research centers serve the sciences of botany and horticulture in basic research and serve the lay public directly by their applied research. They serve as a place for training in research and for a valuable liason between amateur researchers and professional scientists. They provide facilities through their buildings, plant collections, herbaria, laboratories, and libraries, for investigators from outside institutions to conduct research. As research centers they perform, in short, the necessary and vital function of developing the knowledge (through the imaginative thinking of the researcher) to answer the communities needs for basic and applied, botanical and horticultural knowledge.



Edited by Walter Reuther.
Published by American Institute of Biological Sciences
Washington, D. C., 1961
438 pages. Price $8.00

This volume consists of papers presented at the Third Colloquium on Plant Analysis and Fertilizer Problems, held at Montreal, Canada, in connection with the 9th Inter-national Botanical Congress in August, 1959. A total of 30 papers, mostly by authors generally conceded to be leaders in this field of investigation, are included along with a general discussion of the limitations of plant analysis as a research and diagnostic tool. Papers are grouped into two categories: one concerned with data that establish the relationship between plant analysis and plant growth requirements for a variety of plants, and the other concerned with some of the fundamentals involved in the proper interpretation of plant analyses in terms of plant needs.

The importance of proper sampling techniques, based on a prior knowledge of the various factors affecting the mineral composition of leaves, is stressed by several authors and two papers are devoted entirely to discussions of the error involved in leaf sampling. Virtually all phases of the mineral nutrition of plants are touched upon in one or more of the papers. Such topics include the nutrient requirements of various crop plants, the interrelationships between certain nutrients, plant symptoms of nutrient deficiency, foliar absorption of mineral nutrients, and the influence of temperature, soil moisture content, available nutrient sup-ply, disease, and other environmental factors on the mineral composition of leaves.

Data showing the influence of certain mineral nutrients on the organic nutrition of strawberries, sugar cane, and fruit trees are presented. Of special interest are data indicating an inverse relationship between ribonuclease activity and zinc level in apple and orange leaves, and the suggestion that a measure of ribonuclease activity might be used as a test to determine whether or not plants were receiving sufficient zinc. Such a test would be novel in that it would be the first instance in which enzyme activity is employed to estimate the content of a trace nutrient in plants.

Analytical data on leaf composition of the 35 species of crop and forest plants listed below are presented, with critical nutrient levels indicated in many instances:


African oil palm



Aleppo pine





Sour cherry


Lima bean


Black currant





Sugar beets



Sugar cane



Sweet corn






Valonea oak









The combined papers reflect the inherent weakness of all symposia in that some topics receive detailed treatment while others of equal or greater importance receive less attention, or are not mentioned at all. Extensive data are presented for citrus and tree fruits and those concerned with the nutrition of these crops will find the volume a valuable reference source. While data on other crop plants are more limited, the papers probably report the results of recent analyses of leaves of a wider variety of plants than are available from any other single source.


Rutgers—The State University New Brunswick, New Jersey


The New York Botanical Garden has received a two-year grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a master catalog of all the plants of the earth, indexed on punch cards. The program is being directed by Sydney W. Gould at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in New Haven, co-sponsor of the program.

Last spring, a pilot study proved that an automatic compilation can be done in a fraction of the time it would take researchers working without machines, and that it is much less subject to human error. The aim of the program is to record some 1,700,000 plant names by genera and species, in preparation for publication. The published volumes will be arranged by plant families. Cross indexes of authors of plant names and their publications will also be prepared.

At present, taxonomy is complicated by obscure or conflicting basic information. Local names vary greatly for the same plant, and sometimes, the same name is given to different plants. By compiling all basic information on ma-chines, a true botanical master list should be available to researchers around the world within a few years.

It has been estimated that it would take ten people working without machines fifty years to compile such an Inter-national Plant Index. The present index, prepared by the use of punch cards and data processing machines, will be assembled by two operators and two taxonomists under the direction of Mr. Gould. After many years of experience with such equipment in the U. S. Army, he adapted the use of IBM equipment to real estate management in a form later standardized by IBM.


ROBERT H. MILLER. University of Wichita, is on leave on a teaching and research assignment at the Institut Teknologi at Bandung, Java. The project is sponsored by the U. S. government in agreement with the government of Indonesia, and contracted by the University of Kentucky Re-search Foundation. Dr. Miller is doing research on anatomical problems relating to tropical plants.

PIERRE DANSEREAU, Dean of the Science Faculty and Director of the Botanical Institute of the University of Montreal, has been appointed Assistant Director of the New York Botanical Garden, effective April 1, 1961.


Botanical Teaching Aids for Biology Teachers


Former Chairman, Committee on Education, Botanical Society of America

For some time the Committee on Education of the Botanical Society of America has been considering the feasibility of preparing a series of instructional leaflets on botany to be distributed to teachers of biology in high schools and college. The Committee on Education of the Society of American Bacteriologists has been producing and distributing such a series on bacteriology teaching for several years, with considerable success. At the meeting of the Botanical Society Committee on Education at Still-water in 196o, however, the Committee decided against undertaking such a leaflet series at present, principally because of the cost of publication and distribution. Another factor was the prospective inability of the Committee to devote the necessary time to securing contributions for the series and editing them, since the Commit-tee will be occupied during the next year or two with matters that seem more urgent at present.

The Committee is still convinced, however, of the need for such a series of instructional leaflets, particularly for teachers of biology in the secondary schools, junior colleges, teachers colleges, and smaller liberal arts colleges. Many such teachers have had little training in botany, or have last studied botany some time ago, and as a result are frequently not in a position to correct all textbook errors or misrepresentations, are not acquainted with some of the recent important developments in botany that might be included in their courses; are not well acquainted with botanical source materials, and are not using the best available demonstrations and laboratory exercises in botany. Indeed, general botany instructors in universities may in some cases have similar needs, though perhaps to a lesser degree.

To meet these needs the Committee on Education is proposing a substitute for the leaflet series: publication of similar materials in periodicals reaching a substantial pro-portion of the teachers of introductory courses in biology and botany. The success of this venture will depend largely on the extent to which members of the Botanical Society assume individual initiative in the preparation of articles for it. It is our hope that many of you will con-tribute. This constitutes an invitation to participate; in general, specific invitations to individuals will not be issued.

The following types of articles will make most useful contributions to the series: I) Descriptions of new, improved or unusual demonstrations or experiments for use in introductory courses, 2) Improved classroom or laboratory teaching procedures, 3) Suggestions as to selection of botanical subject matter for biology courses, 4) A selected list of botanical films, with critical comments, 5) Bibliographies of botany books useful in introductory courses, 6) Reviews of new textbooks, with particular reference to their botanical content, 7) Suggestions for making tests, particularly for testing objectives other than the mere acquisition of information, 8) A directory of sources of free, inexpensive, and hard to find laboratory or classroom materials, 9) Articles clarifying botanical topics about which there is extensive misinformation, in texts and else-where, Io) Review articles of a suitable level in areas of botany where current research is active, particularly if the developing knowledge is adapted to inclusion in introductory courses.

The publications with best coverage of the desired audience are the AIBS Bulletin, The American Biology Teacher, and Turtox News. The first is less suitable than the others for this series since its content is mainly of a different type. Despite the fact that the Turtox News is a house publication, it has two definite advantages over the American Biology Teacher: 1) A much larger circulation, including virtually every high school and college biology teacher in the country, and 2) Free reprints. We are, therefore, recommending the Turtox News, even though both periodicals publish the types of articles we are suggesting. There would be some advantage in having the entire series in a single publication.

To provide some coherence for the series we suggest that all contributions be sent to Dr. Harriet B. Creighton, Department of Botany, Wellesley College, Wellesley Sr, Mass. Dr. Creighton is the new chairman of our Commit-tee on Education. Following review by the Committee and assignment of a series serial number to the contribution Dr. Creighton will then either submit the manuscript to the editor of, if any substantial changes are suggested. back to the author for revision. This procedure should result in the production of a very useful series of articles, provided that a sufficient number of members of the Society contribute.


Society of Pharmacognosy will be held at the University of Houston, College of Pharmacy, Houston, Texas from June 19-21, 1961. Present officers of the Society are: President. Varro E. Tyler, Jr., University of Washington; Vice-president, Norman R. Farnsworth, University of Pitts-burgh; Treasurer, Frank A. Crane, University of Illinois; Secretary, Rolf S. Westby, Eli Lilly and Company, Indianapolis.


sored by Department of Botany of The University of Tennessee was held on April 27-29 in cooperation with the Naturalist Service of the National Park Service in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Many hundreds of people from many states and from foreign countries attend the tours annually.

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