Plant Science Bulletin archive

Issue: 2023-v69-1Actions

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 Trauma Awareness: A Botany360 

Recap ....p. 6

Early registration deadline for Botany 2023.... p. 12

Botanists Needed for UN Decade on Ecosystem 

Restoration .... p. 4





















. 16 











 I P





















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                                             Spring 2023 Volume 69 Number 1



As our long-time readers know, the content of Plant Science Bulletin 

reflects the professional interests and concerns of BSA members. In 

this issue, you will find articles that were developed out of Botany 

2022 panel discussions, such as the piece on preparing for a faculty 

position at a PUI, and from Botany360 workshops, such as those 

on trauma  awareness and becoming a BSA student representative.  


As always, we invite articles from BSA members and friends on the 

issues that matter. You can submit an article directly to me or contact 

me to discuss your idea!  


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Botanists Needed for UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration ................................................................4

Trauma Awareness: A Botany360 Recap ..........................................................................................................6


What is a Primarily Undergraduate Institution (PUI)?  ..............................................................................14


2022 Gift Membership Drive Drawing Winner ..............................................................................................24

Botany360 Updates ......................................................................................................................................................24

BSA Professional Highlights ...................................................................................................................................25

BSA Student Chapter Updates..............................................................................................................................26


Welcome New PlantingScience Coordinators ..............................................................................................29

Life Discovery Conference .......................................................................................................................................32


Botany360 Webinar: How To Be A Successful BSA Student Representative ...........................33


Carl John Burk (1935–2022) .................................................................................................................................36

Chris Davidson - Botanist of Idaho, and the Whole World (1944–2022) ......................................38

David W. Lee (1942–2022) .....................................................................................................................................41

David Michael Spooner (1949–2022) ...............................................................................................................44


Eagle Hill Institute’s 2023 Vascular Plant and Related Summer Seminars ..................................48



Logo designed by Johanne Stogran 

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

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Botanists Needed for UN Decade 

on Ecosystem Restoration

There is wide interest internationally on 

improving habitats to sustain biodiversity 

and supply other ecological services. Climate 

change has stressed environments worldwide 

and significant action is needed to add to our 

natural resources. The United Nations has put 

together a professional group to encourage 

and organize initiatives. This includes many 

partners such as their UN Environment 

Program, the Food and Agricultural 

Organization, the International Union for 

the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), The 

Nature Conservancy, as well as scientific 

groups including the Society for Ecological 


Each project is planned and implemented 

by local groups and listed in the UN Decade 

program. More information about the 

program and its resources can be seen at www.

Among the principles that the UN Decade 

are using are ones important to the mission 

of BSA: broad public participation; benefits 

to nature and people; knowledge integration; 

management of resources; policy integration.  

Together these goals advance the health and 

sustainability of botanical resources. The full 

Principles for Ecosystem Restoration report is 

available at


Botanists have an important and critical role 

to improve this international effort. Members 

of the BSA are experts in different taxonomic 

groups and their life history needs, as well as 

plant communities of all types and throughout 

the world. The UN Decade initiative is a 

wonderful opportunity to expand the service 

of our members as advisors to many programs 

being planned worldwide. Individual 

members may volunteer their expertise in 

taxa and in habitat structure and function 

when asked by UN Decade teams planning 

each habitat restoration program.

Participation in the UN Decade program 

offers many benefits: 

• Members can use their professional 

skills to advance environmental con-

ditions, worldwide.

• The value of botany as a scientific 

discipline can reach new audiences, 

helping people realize the great value 

of botanical training for the modern 


• Participation in this program may en-

courage others from all backgrounds 

to consider botany and related science 

cities as career goals.  


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• Submit a record of a habitat restora-

tion project in which you have par-

ticipated. Report these at www.ser-rrc.


If you choose to register as an expert, you 

may be asked to participate at some level in 

a project.   Please let the BSA know if you 

have registered by writing to the BSA office 

at In that way, BSA 

would have a record of members willing to 

help in this international program. Then we 

can better explain the value of our organization 

to the general public. 

Thank you for considering participation in 

this important international program.

There are some simple ways for BSA members 

to become involved:

• Register in the Alliance of Nature-

Positive Universities. This is a global 

network of individuals associated with 

higher education to “prompt the pri-

oritization of nature and its restoration 

within the higher education sector; in 

their operations and supply chains, on 

campuses and within the cities where 

they operate.” Learn more and register 

at  https://www.decadeonrestoration.


• Submit resources to help restoration 

actions, such as articles and reports, 

webinars, and videos that would add 

botanical knowledge.  Please submit 

these and register your expertise at the 

Restoration Resource Center:  www.


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Trauma Awareness:  

A Botany360 Recap

Unfortunately, trauma is pervasive in our 

society. From individual traumas experienced 

as a child, to traumatic events affecting entire 

communities, to historical traumas that are 

passed from generation to generation among 

marginalized and oppressed groups. And just 

like other aspects of our personal lives and 

identities, we bring our traumas with us to our 

work, school, and interactions with others. On 

our paths to becoming a more equitable and 

inclusive Botanical Society of America, we 

must work to acknowledge, understand, and 

interrupt trauma. 

In December 2022, the BSA offered a free 

Botany360 webinar to explore this topic, “A 

Trauma Awareness Workshop,” facilitated by 

the former BSA Diversity Equity Inclusion and 

Outreach Programs Coordinator Sarah Sims. 

It offered a framework for defining trauma, 

explored five types of traumas; shared data on 

the prevalence of trauma; investigated how 

trauma impacts individuals as well as entire 

communities; and laid out a path to becoming 

trauma informed. Sarah offers a recap of that 

workshop here so that more of our botany 

community can take steps to better care for 

ourselves and one another. 
This recap article talks about different types 

of traumas and may be distressing for some 

readers. Please take breaks or discontinue 

reading as needed.  Your mental health and 

safety are important. If you are in crisis, you 

can receive help by calling the National Sui-

cide and Crisis Lifeline: 988.



What do you think of when you hear the 

word  trauma? When I participated in my 

first trauma awareness training, my answer 

to this question was decidedly narrow and 

revealing of my privilege as a person who had 

not experienced many traumas in their life.  I 

have since come to understand the three Es of 

trauma: event, experience, effects: a framework 

that defines trauma as individual.


 The first E, 

event, is quite expansive. It might be an actual 

traumatic experience of either physical or 

psychological harm, or it might be the threat 

of harm.  Additionally, and importantly for 

a more nuanced understanding of trauma, 

is that the event might also be the lack, 

withholding, or control of the resources that 

one needs for their health and development.  

event, yet due to their personal histories and 










By Sarah Sims    

Former BSA Diversity Equity Inclusion and      

Outreach Programs Coordinator


Learn more about the new National Suicide and Crisis 

Lifeline at and




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identities, they will experience it (the second 

E) differently, and thus it will have different 

effects (the third E) on them. There are many 

different types of traumas, which we’ll go over 

in the next section. But what is important to 

really understand here is that we really can’t 

say what is or isn’t, or what should or shouldn’t 

be traumatic for any given person. 


This list of five categories of trauma is in no 

way meant to be exhaustive or conclusive, but 

rather is a starting point for understanding 

the different ways in which trauma works. 

Individual or private trauma is perhaps what 

most people think of when they hear the 

word  trauma.  Private trauma is typically 

person to person, usually happens within the 

home or family, and is often characterized 

by secrecy, shame, and even self-blame. 

Individual traumas include different types of 

abuse, as well as family separation, having an 

incarcerated parent, a major illness, and other 

events that negatively impact personal life.  

Public traumas are events that happen in the 

public sphere often directly impacting many 

people, such as a natural disaster, a mass 

shooting event, or a pandemic. Because of 

the large-scale nature of this trauma, it does 

not typically carry secrecy or shame; however, 

there is often an “expiration date” placed on 

the accompanying grief and fear. For example, 

you may hear people assert “that happened 

many years ago, so they should be over it by 


Community and environmental trauma is 

a collection of experiences or realities that 

negatively impact an entire community.  For 

example, individuals living in a neighborhood 

that has high rates of crime and violence and 

little access to quality housing and healthy 

food may experience the impacts of such 

community trauma. We can also define 

community, not as geographical boundaries, 

but as people who share an identity. In this 

example, a public trauma such as a shooting 

in an LGBTQ night club combines with the 

historical trauma (discussed below) of anti-

LGBTQ hate to engender a community 

trauma in which many/all LGBTQ people may 

feel traumatized by such an event (even if they 

were not present at the time and place of the 

attack). Another example of environmental 

trauma intersecting with individual trauma 

comes from Naomi Volain, BSA member, 

botany teacher and science cartoonist. She 

is a breast cancer patient now in remission, 

and her comic "The Botany of Breast Cancer 

Awareness" connects conservation issues 

to the trauma of breast cancer treatment 

(Figure 1).

Historical trauma is a function and result of 

systemic oppression, violence, and erasure. 

It is experienced collectively by those that 

share one or more oppressed identities. While 

the term historical trauma may indicate 

events that happened in the past, this type 

of trauma is in fact adaptive and cumulative. 

For example, while enslavement may have 

ended, Black Americans continued to be 

traumatized throughout our nation’s history 

and into the present via acts of terror such 

as lynching, discriminatory laws, and the 

everyday trauma of both overt racism and 

racial microaggressions present in the systems 

individuals must operate within (such as the 

education system, healthcare system, etc.). 

Historical trauma is felt by individuals but also 

passed from generation to generation (and is 

therefore also called generational trauma).

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Figure 1. A comic by Naomi Volain connecting conservation issues to the trauma of breast cancer treatment.

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While the previously described types of 

trauma are very different, they produce the 

same response in the brains and bodies of 

individuals: they trigger our automatic stress 

response system. The stress response system 

might look different in each individual (some 

people may respond more actively [fighting 

or fleeing], whereas others may freeze or 

fawn). But the important thing to remember 

is that it is a protective function occurring 

automatically (without thought) in the lower 

regions of our brain.  Just as we cannot define 

for others what is or is not traumatizing for 

them, we also cannot prescribe how they will 

or should react to a traumatic event.  

The automatic stress response happens in 

the moment for all of us when faced with 

a traumatic or extremely stressful/scary 

situation (think of how your body leaps into 

gear if you are almost sideswiped on the 

highway). But for people who are currently 

experiencing, or have experienced, ongoing 

trauma, their trauma response becomes 

more of their normal or typical response to 

situations that might be described by many as 

only mildly stressful.


 As an outsider, it can be 

hard to recognize such reactions through the 

lens of trauma, but we must work to do so in 

order to break the cycle of re-traumatization. 




Most of the time, a person’s traumas do not 

exist in a silo. Rather they intersect with other 

traumas, and the realities of the environments 

we live, work, and play in and how others in 

those environments may perceive us. Think of 

an individual as a tree. The leaves are private/

individual traumas they may be experiencing. 

But every tree exists in soil that further informs 

how its leaves may grow, and that soil may 

have nutrients (that help it heal from trauma) 

as well as toxins (that can trigger past traumas 

or be a source of new trauma). Individuals 

may grow in many different soils—their home 

life, a religious community, a friend group, 

their professional life, etc. 

So, what is in the soil of the botany community? 

We all bring our own traumas with us to our 

work, but how does our work setting either 

resist or engender retraumatization? Many 

of the workshop participants offered that 

academic settings are steeped in systemic 

oppression and reinforce the biases and 

discrimination that have contributed to the 

historical traumas of many marginalized 

communities. Additionally, the fast-paced, 

competitive, and achievement-focused 

characteristics of the academic environment 

may be triggering for colleagues and students 

who have experienced traumas. 

To learn more about the mechanics of the brain and 

body’s response to trauma and how this stress response 

system can have lasting impacts on cognition, health, 

and wellness, I recommend The Body Keeps the Score: 

Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma by 

Bessel van der Kolk.

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What can we do? If we know that a majority of 

people have experienced at least one trauma 

in their lives,


 and we can’t go back and 

erase past traumas, and we likely are not in a 

position to prevent many present and future 

traumas, what can we do to interrupt this 

cycle? The good news is that you don’t have 

to be a therapist to be therapeutic!


 To act in 

a trauma-informed way, remember the four 

R’s. Realize the widespread impact of trauma. 

Naomi’s cartoon beautifully illustrates this 

first R; in Naomi’s words, “Simplifying the 

trauma of breast cancer with Breast Cancer 

Awareness’s pink ribbon doesn’t address 

the real need of cancer patients—for their 

people to be present for them, and honestly 

acknowledge the trauma of cancer treatment.” 

Recognize the signs and symptoms of trauma 

in yourself and others. Respond by fully 

integrating knowledge about trauma into 

policies, procedures, and practices. And seek 

to actively Resist retraumatization.



 The first major study on childhood trauma, “The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study,” published in 1998 by 

Kaiser Permanente and the CDC showed that over 50% of American adults had experienced at least one of ten 

traumatic events as a child; 25% had experienced two or more, 1 in 16 had experienced four or more, and 1 in 22 

had experienced six or more. The traumatic events they surveyed were: sexual abuse, physical abuse, verbal abuse, 

emotional neglect, physical neglect, adults in the home with drug or alcohol use problems, adults in the home with 

mental health issues, adults in the home who have been incarcerated, domestic violence, and parent separation. 


 If you are interested in learning more about various therapies used to address trauma past and present, 

I recommend The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk. This title as well as What Happened to You?: 

Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing by Oprah Winfrey and Bruce Perry also extrapolate 

on how those of us who are not therapists can be a support for those who have experienced trauma. 

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers guidance for organizations 

to move from being “trauma aware” to “trauma informed” by analyzing and reforming practices, culture, policies, 

and systems:


Botany360 is a series of programming that 

connects the plant science community 

throughout the year with professional 

development, discussion sessions, and 

networking and social opportunities.  If you’d 

like to see upcoming events or view recordings 

of past events, visit


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Jacquelyn Gill is an associate professor of paleoecology at the University of Maine’s Climate 

Change Institute. She is a paleoecologist and biogeographer, bringing the perspectives of 

space and time to bear on questions in ecology and global change science. Her work takes 

a community ecology approach to help understand how species and their interactions 

have responded to interacting drivers (like climate change and extinction) through time.  


She directs the BEAST Lab, which investigates 1) the legacies “biotic upheavals” like the 

extinction of Pleistocene megafauna on vegetation, 2) biotic interactions and drivers of 

landscape change on large spatiotemporal scales, 3) plant range dynamics and vulnerability to 

climate change, and 4) what paleoecology, Indigenous archaeology, and Traditional Ecological 

Knowledges can tell us about human-environment interactions in the past.

She is a co-host of the podcast Warm Regards and author of the blog “The Contemplative 

Mammoth”, welcoming conversations and advice on science, early career academia, and 

diversity in STEM. She is a co-founder of the March for Science and a 2020 recipient of NCSE’s 

Friend of the Planet award.


BOTANY 2023 


SUNDAY, JULY 23 7:30 PM 


Register now - - Early Registration deadline May 31.

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Have you registered yet? 

Come home to Botany 2023 

at the beautiful  

Boise Centre, Boise, Idaho  


Connect, Collaborate & Learn  

with Colleagues from Around the Globe

Over 900 Scientific Presentations   

Including Symposia  - Colloquia - Poster Session - Social Events  

Field Trips - Wildflower Walks - Workshops - Exhibits   

Special Lectures by Prominent Scientists  

Register now - - Early Registration deadline May 31.







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By Rachel S. Jabaily


, Colorado College, Associate Professor of Organismal Biology and Ecology 

Private 4-year residential, selective, liberal arts college 

Jennifer L. Ison


,  College  of  Wooster,  Associate  Professor  Biology,  Private  4-year  residential,              

selective, liberal arts college 

Christopher T. Ivey


, California State University, Chico, Professor of Biological Sciences 

Comprehensive public university, Hispanic-serving institution  

Rachel M. McCoy


, St. Norbert College, Assistant Professor of Biology, Private 4-year residen-

tial, Norbertine Catholic, liberal arts university  

Mackenzie L. Taylor


, Creighton University, Associate Professor of Biology, Private 4-year 

residential, Jesuit, liberal arts university  

Carrie A. Wu


, University of Richmond, Associate Professor of Biology and Environmental 

Studies Program Coordinator, Private 4-year residential, selective, liberal arts university


Author for correspondence (


Co-authors contributed equally and are listed in alphabetical order. 



This article originated from discussions 

in a workshop held by the Primarily 

Undergraduate Institution Section of the 

Botanical Society of America (BSA) at our 

Botany 2022 meeting in Anchorage. We hope 

this article will provide some useful ideas 

and tips for people interested in applying for 

faculty positions at bachelor’s degree granting 

Primarily Undergraduate Institutions (PUIs). 

We recognize that our experiences are not 

universal. While our trajectories toward, 

and experiences in, our current positions 

as PUI faculty members may vary, we share 

Preparing for a Faculty Position at a 

Primarily Undergraduate Institution (PUI)

a common passion for undergraduate 

mentoring and teaching in plant biology. 

Our perspectives reflect our experiences as 

botanists within PUI institutions, and while 

we offer these suggestions in the hopes of 

fostering more successful academic botanists, 

much of the content in the article could apply 

to other subdisciplines within biology. In this 

article, our intent is to share our collective 

perspectives to help others explore strategies 

about how to successfully chart their own 

path towards a PUI faculty position. 

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Primarily Undergraduate Institutions 

encompass a wide swath of the higher 

education landscape. The National Science 

Foundation defines PUIs as “... accredited 

colleges and universities (including two-year 

community colleges) that award Associate’s 

degrees, Bachelor’s degrees, and/or Master’s 

degrees in NSF-supported fields, but have 

awarded 20 or fewer Ph.D./D.Sc. degrees in 

all NSF-supported fields during the combined 

previous two academic years.” Some PUIs 

have a very heavy research expectation, 

whereas others have very little support for 

research. PUIs include public and private R2 

universities, small (often private) liberal arts 

colleges (SLACs), and community colleges. 

In some cases, the institution may not fall 

into the NSF-defined category of PUI, but the 

specific context of the college or department 

is best characterized as primarily serving 


For many faculty members at PUIs, 

undergraduate education in the classroom 

is the central component of their job. The 

“teacher-scholar model” is typically highly 

valued at these types of institutions as well. 

Scholarship within the discipline is considered 

a valuable component of developing and 

maintaining excellence in teaching. PUI 

faculty also engage in service to their 

institutions and the profession. Expectations 

for successful job candidates will vary, but 

one commonality is that all these institutions 

are  primarily undergraduate. As you move 

through your professional training, consider 

how your professional work (research, 

teaching, service) can center on involving and 

supporting undergraduate students.






During graduate school, focus on completing 

your dissertation and publishing your work 

to prepare for a future successful PUI job 

application. During grad school and beyond, 

be strategic about crafting your portfolio 

to demonstrate the likelihood of continued 

professional success by publishing papers, 

applying for and hopefully receiving grant 

funding, and solidifying a research program 

that can continue to produce publications 

with undergraduate students. PUIs commonly 

expect faculty to develop a research program 

that is manageable and successful with a 

solely undergraduate-populated lab. Once 

employed, it can be more challenging for 

departmental colleagues to provide specific 

advice for interesting research directions. 

Invest in your research trajectory prior to 

applying for jobs. To earn tenure at a PUI, 

faculty members typically need to publish 

papers (often a mixture from projects started 

before the position and from projects initiated 

at the institution) and will be encouraged to 

apply for grants. 

Many of us experienced the rewards of 

mentoring undergraduate research students 

while we were graduate students in botanical 

lab and field projects. We built career-

long relationships with our undergraduate 

co-authors and worked with them on 

presentations, publications, and their own 

applications for jobs and graduate school. Seek 

out similar relationships during your graduate 

school years, because all of these experiences 

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can be added to your CV and discussed in job 

application materials, making you a great fit 

for a PUI job.

Because the number of botanists in any PUI 

faculty is likely to be small, botanists are often 

expected to take on service requirements such 

as managing a greenhouse or curating an 

herbarium. Applicants with these skills may 

be favored, so gaining some experience in 

these areas will likely be beneficial. Utilizing 

these resources in your research and teaching 

will be excellent to discuss in job applications. 





Most people pursuing a tenure-track faculty 

position at a PUI are interested in a balance 

between teaching and research. Providing 

evidence that you are developing that balance 

as a graduate student and postdoc can be 

beneficial. Aim to gain experience in the types 

of teaching you wish to continue, including 

laboratory and field-based courses. 

Traditionally, academics get their first 

teaching opportunities as a teaching assistant, 

perhaps in a lab section of a larger course 

overseen by a faculty member. The support 

or guidance in instructional techniques at 

this stage varies, so the importance of teacher 

training is increasingly recognized in graduate 

programs. If your program offers workshops, 

classes, or other opportunities to develop 

teaching skills, take advantage of them. 

Some faculty offer senior graduate students 

opportunities to give guest lectures in their 

courses, which can be a terrific way to learn 

how to interact with a large group of students. 

If you can serve as instructor-of-record on a 

course as a graduate student, consider doing 

it, even if it takes time away from other work. 

Instructor-of-record role indicates a much 

deeper teaching experience, equivalent to 

teaching as a professor.

Opportunities to build teaching and 

mentorship experience continue after 

completing your PhD. Some institutions will 

hire recent graduates as instructors of record 

for a semester or two while they are looking 

for a postdoc or faculty position. Professional 

societies, including the BSA, routinely offer 

workshops and colloquia at annual meetings 

dedicated to developing teaching strategies 

and showcasing engaged pedagogy. Ambitious 

undergraduates are usually eager to contribute 

to a research project under the mentorship of 

a postdoc or recent graduate. 

You can pursue teaching experiences within 

a PUI, which can be enlightening as well 

as helpful for demonstrating interest in 

permanent faculty positions. Some PUIs offer 

various forms of teaching postdocs, and some 

PUI faculty offer research postdoc positions 

directly. Some of these positions allow postdocs 

to earn instructor-of-record experience as 

well. Postdoctoral positions within PUIs 

are not common, but these provide valuable 

insight into the circumstances experienced by 

faculty working at PUIs. Many, if not all, PUIs 

provide professional development training 

opportunities associated with teaching or 

will support early career faculty who express 

an interest in finding such opportunities. 

Colleagues within a department can also 

provide mentorship in teaching methods 

and strategies for postdocs, visitors, and new 

faculty members. 

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Another common opportunity to gain 

teaching experience within a PUI is through 

a temporary, non-tenure-track position. 

Faculty members with these positions may be 

called Visiting Assistant Professors (VAPs), 

contingent faculty, or some other title that 

distinguishes them from permanent faculty. 

These positions are typically used to replace 

faculty who are on sabbatical, fill unforeseen 

vacancies in a department, or assist with 

unexpected changes in curricular needs. They 

are usually teaching-heavy and may have few, if 

any, research expectations or resources. These 

will likely provide significant opportunities 

to obtain instructor-of-record teaching 

experience and may also be a time and space 

to develop new scholarly collaborations and 

pursuits. However, finding time and resources 

to build or maintain a research program while 

in such positions can be challenging. Using 

time as a VAP to bring to fruition novel ideas 

or to continue ongoing collaborations may 

be a successful strategy, perhaps instead of 

pursuing a research-focused postdoc position. 

Some PUIs allow and encourage VAPs to 

mentor research with students and give their 

VAPs access to in-house supplies, grants, funds, 

and professional development opportunities. 

Ask ample questions to see what is possible 

if you are considering a VAP, especially if this 

is instead of a postdoc position. The choice 

of whether to accept a VAP should depend 

on the specifics of the position, the relative 

strengths and gaps in your background, and 

your overall professional goals.  

A VAP may very occasionally convert to 

a tenure-track position. However, unless 

a pathway to tenure-track conversion is 

articulated in official documentation for the 

position, do not count on this as a guarantee. 

Sometimes current VAPs are converted into 

tenure-track  positions without an additional 

external search, but this is rarely the case. 

Many institutions have policies discouraging 

or prohibiting the practice, preferring (or 

requiring) an open search. As a current 

VAP, you might be a preferred candidate in 

an open search, as many PUIs highly value 

authentic teaching experience with their 

specific institution or similar. However, it can 

be emotionally challenging to be present at 

your VAP institution when other candidates 

are interviewing for the job you want. This is 

a topic that you should be sure to discuss with 

the search and/or department chair





A postdoctoral position is a great way to 

gain a new perspective through an expanded 

scholarly network, and many successful job 

candidates have postdoctoral experience. 

Many permanent PUI jobs require 

continuing research productivity for tenure 

and evidence of scholarly engagement in 

multiple types of questions, methodology, 

analyses, and study systems can demonstrate 

flexibility. Postdoctoral experiences can also 

demonstrate continued productivity, scholarly 

independence from your dissertation lab 

group, and a more expansive intellectual 

contribution. Botany is a dynamic and rapidly 

changing field, and PUIs need faculty who 

demonstrate an interest in keeping abreast of 

changes to effectively train their students. 

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We found substantial variation in our 

academic preparations prior to obtaining a 

faculty position, and similarly, our experiences 

on search committees varied among our 

institutions. At some institutions, we have 

only seen applicants with both postdoctoral 

and instructor-of-record experience progress 

in the hiring process. In other cases, applicants 

were competitive immediately out of graduate 

school if their record was otherwise strong. 

If you lack postdoctoral experience but 

seem otherwise to be an excellent fit for an 

advertised position, contact the chair of the 

search committee for clarification about 

minimum qualifications before applying. 






You may find it helpful to start preparing 

for a PUI faculty position early in your 

academic training. Talk with faculty members 

in positions like those that interest you so 

you have a better appreciation for what the 

reality of the job might entail. Attending 

PUI-specific events through the BSA as well 

as the American Society of Plant Biologists 

and other professional organizations can help 

you meet the community and find mentors. 

Familiarize yourself with the annual job cycle 

through the ecoevoljobs wiki, compare job ads 

from various types of institutions, and learn 

about differences among institution types. Be 

mindful that preparing the various statements 

of a full job application is time-consuming, 

especially the first round. Customizing essays 

to individual institutions also takes significant 

time.  Applying for jobs that look interesting 

before you are likely to be viable (i.e., before 

your dissertation is complete) may be 

informative, this may not be the best use of 

your energies. That said, if you see an amazing 

PUI job posted that is just what you want, do 

not assume it will be posted again in future 

years—go for it! 




Many PUI jobs are posted in the same places as 

R1 and other academic jobs: the Chronicle of 

Higher Education, HigherEdJobs, Science, and 

Nature, as well as the websites of the specific 

institutions and on social media. Community-

sourced anonymous wiki pages conglomerate 

job postings from these sites and allow people 

to post anonymous questions and updates on 

the various searches as they progress. Two of 

interest to our community are 

and evoldir. The BSA webpage (www.botany.

org) also lists many relevant jobs.

The ad should state clearly if the position is 

tenure track or not, the levels at which people 

can apply (e.g., assistant professor, open to all 

ranks, PhD required), and what department 

or program within the institution is hiring. 

The ad should also indicate the general areas 

of teaching and research that are expected. 

The ad may indicate what types of courses an 

applicant should be prepared to teach, to what 

extent research productivity is valued, and 

other major required components of the job. 

You may need to meet all, or just some, of the 

criteria to be competitive. 

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Although job ads are written by faculty 

committees, some institutions have Human 

Resources staff that mandate large chunks 

of the job ad. As a result, there may only be 

a paragraph or two that the department is 

able to influence. If the ad seems very broad, 

it could mean the department is casting a 

wide net to look for all-around excellent 

colleagues, and the disciplinary expertise is 

not as important. It could also signal lack of 

cohesion among members of the department 

in what the position would accomplish. There 

should be a point of contact included in the 

job ad, often the department chair or another 

faculty member who is serving as the search 

committee chair. Contact them if you have 

questions or need clarification about the 






Most PUI departments are small, and 

consequently candidates that have broader 

expertise or perspectives may be perceived 

as more useful future colleagues. Be prepared 

to envision yourself in a broader range of 

PUI jobs; even if your training is primarily in 

botany, you may be a great fit for a job seeking 

an ecologist, an evolutionary biologist, a 

geneticist, or other type of broadly defined 

biologist. Consider the expectations of the 

job. Does it seem like the balance of teaching 

and research is what you would like? What is 

the teaching load? What are the expectations 

for tenure and promotion? If current faculty 

members post their CVs, you may be able to 

determine their academic records at the time 

they applied for their jobs and/or when they 

received tenure and gauge typical research 

output. Keep in mind that expectations for 

scholarly productivity have change over 

the past decades across academia, at times 

drastically, and that the standards and 

expectations of research engagement often 

change with tenure rank. Pay special attention 

to the academic record of the assistant professors 

(i.e., recent hires). 

You may be able to gain some insight into 

the culture of the department by looking at 

the department website and exploring faculty 

lab websites or public social media accounts. 

Are there professors in the department or at 

the institution that seem like they could be 

interesting to interact or collaborate with? 

Also consider the values of the institution, 

its mission statement, and major initiatives 

discussed on the website. Does this resonate 

with you? You should consider location and 

cost of living, but keep an open mind. 





Typically, job applications for PUIs require a 

cover letter, curriculum vitae (CV), a teaching 

statement, a research statement, and some 

type of Diversity-Equity-Inclusion (DEI) or 

fit-to-mission statement. Cover letters and 

statements are typically two pages or so in 

length. These statements may be combined 

in various ways, and not all documents may 

be required in the initial application. Think 

carefully about how to make these documents 

as easy to read as possible, with section 

headings, page numbers, and headers that 

reinforce whose documents they are. Be sure 

you seek out mentors who can provide you 

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examples and can provide feedback on your 

documents. Keep in mind that customization 

will require substantial time if you are 

applying to multiple jobs, but is important for 

advancing in most searches.

Cover Letter

The cover letter should convey, with specificity 

and realistic enthusiasm, why you are a great 

fit for the particular position. Make it clear 

up front that you understand that this is a 

PUI. General applications or applications 

that seem tailored for an R1 job will not do 

well in the search and are easy to spot. In the 

letter, address each aspect of the job in their 

perceived order of importance in the position. 

Speak to teaching, undergraduate mentorship 

in research, your own research trajectory, 

and involvement in the broader community. 

Any customization to the specific institution, 

and reference to any major initiatives of the 

PUI (e.g., DEI initiatives, new or ongoing 

interdisciplinary programs, community 

engagement) will benefit you. You may 

mention if there are affiliate programs or other 

interdisciplinary initiatives at the institution 

to which you might contribute as a scholar or 

teacher, broadening your appeal to the PUI. 

In general, departments will be looking for 

a candidate who can strengthen existing 

curricular programs, fill a gap in the 

department, and/or diversify the department. 

If the job application mentions specific courses 

or general areas of teaching that are required, 

be sure you discuss each clearly and potentially 

early in the letter. For example, if the ad 

states that the candidate would be expected 

to contribute to introductory biology, be 

sure to indicate your willingness and, ideally, 

excitement to do so. If you have experience as 

a TA, guest lecturer, or instructor-of-record, 

highlight this in your letter with clear and 

consistent language about your role.


The curriculum vitae (CV) is a comprehensive 

assembly of your professional achievements 

and should be thoughtfully organized to 

highlight the qualities a PUI seeks. There 

are many ways to format a CV, so look at 

examples and consistently update yours as 

you move through your career. Consider 

moving information about your teaching 

and mentoring experience toward the 

beginning of the CV. Highlight the roles of 

undergraduate mentees in your publications, 

presentations, etc. You may find it useful to 

annotate your publications list to include your 

role on specific papers. The BSA often hosts 

professional development opportunities at 

our Botany conference for people to have their 

CV reviewed by other botanists, so take part if 

you can!

Research Statement 

In your research statement, discuss both 

your current research progress and future 

trajectory, making it clear how you plan to 

develop your research program in the context 

of the institution. Committees appreciate 

applicants that make it easy for them to 

envision a smooth and successful integration 

into the department. Expectations for 

undergraduate research should be clear from 

the job advertisement or from college and/or 

department mission statements. You should 

explicitly discuss the role of undergraduates 

in your proposed research program. Describe 

how you have (or plan to) recruit research 

students and how you mentor them through 

research, keeping DEI considerations central. 

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Describe ways in which your research might 

be integrated into your teaching. Highlight 

any previous outcomes from training and 

mentoring undergraduates, such as preparing 

proposals, presentations, and/or publications, 

and demonstrate how you will continue to 

integrate your students into the broader 

scientific community. Identify two or three 

projects that would be manageable as an 

undergrad thesis or summer project, and that 

would be publishable. Elaborate on these in 

the application materials to show that you 

have a realistic but ambitious perspective.

Student work will underpin much of your 

research productivity, but there will be aspects 

of your scholarship where you are central. 

Be sure you also speak to contemporary, 

major projects utilizing and building upon 

your specific academic background. Identify 

potential sources of external grant funding 

you might seek, including the NSF RUIs 

(Research in Undergraduate Institutions) and 

ROAs (Research Opportunity Awards). 

Clarify what resources you would need to 

be successful, while keeping in mind that 

PUIs often have limited start-up budgets and 

access to equipment. You should demonstrate 

flexibility and creativity, especially if your 

research is expensive. Are there nearby 

collaborators? Would you consider developing 

local fieldwork? Make it obvious to readers 

that your work will not only be possible, but 

also fruitful and meaningful in the context 

of the institution. Applicants who describe at 

length their plans for future graduate students 

and postdocs, require highly specialized, 

large research facilities, or require extensive 

fieldwork throughout the year, suggest 

unfamiliarity with the environment at PUIs, 

and thus are unlikely to be viewed favorably 

by hiring committees. 

Teaching Statement

The teaching statement should address your 

general philosophy as an educator, your values 

when developing courses and in working 

with students, and specific examples of your 

pedagogy in practice. What do you value 

when designing a course, choosing topics, 

and creating assignments and assessments? 

How do students interact with you and each 

other in your classroom? What materials do 

you bring into the classroom, lab, and field? 

What skills do your students develop? How is 

DEI enhanced in your classroom and through 

student interactions? 

In your teaching statement, be sure to speak to 

the specific courses or academic areas that the 

job is seeking. The ability to teach a specific 

course can be a make-or-break requirement 

for a candidate, and the search committee will 

be looking at your qualifications and interest 

in teaching what they stated in the ad. If 

possible, look through the course catalog and 

highlight existing courses that you would be 

able to teach beyond those requested. Avoid 

limiting your discussion of teaching to upper-

level courses or seminars. Faculty members at 

PUI institutions are often expected to teach 

core curricular courses such as introductory 

biology, genetics, ecology, or evolutionary 

biology. Many Biology departments at PUI 

institutions offer courses to non-majors as 

well, which can be important for departmental 

budgets and expanding the reach of STEM 

instruction. If you are enthusiastic about 

developing a new course, discuss that in 

the teaching statement and address other 

ideas that you have to enhance the student 

educational experience at the institution. 

Consider the broader curriculum and possible 

interdisciplinary or college foundational 

courses or programs that you might contribute 

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to, enhancing the overall mission outside of 

the specific hiring department. 

DEI Statement

The DEI or fit-to-mission statement should 

be personal and authentic, with no pro-

forma requirements. Some job ads include 

a specific prompt to guide your statement. 

You are not required to disclose any of your 

identities or backgrounds in this or any part 

of your job materials, but this could be a great 

place to do so if you are comfortable sharing. 

Many institutions are highly interested in 

recruiting and retaining diverse faculty, and 

the search committee may not have access 

to demographic information of candidates. 

Reflect on your own background, experiences, 

positionality, and intersectionality, and how 

you continue to educate yourself. How has 

your field, and academia in general, built and 

reinforced power structures and marginalized 

people? How have you contributed (or could 

you contribute) to changing structures 

and systems? How do you approach DEI 

considerations in your roles as teacher, 

mentor, scholar, colleague, and community 

member? Keep in mind that the BSA has 

many great initiatives you can get involved 

with to enhance DEI goals within our society, 

like the BSA PLANTS program and service on 

our DEI committee. 

Letters of Reference

You will be asked to provide the names of 

three or more professional references. Your 

references will either be contacted about 

letters of recommendation if you pass initial 

screening processes, or the letters may be 

required at the deadline of your application, 

usually submitted by your letter writers 

themselves.  Your most recent employer 

(chair of your current department or other 

administrator) may also be contacted about a 

general background check by HR at some point 

in the process. You should seek out a deeper 

conversation with your letter writers about 

your experiences together, what you hope 

they emphasize (including contextualization 

of any potential weak points in your 

application), your plans for your future, and 

if they have any concerns. Letter writing and 

customization is a major time commitment 

for your mentors and an important outcome 

of your relationship together. It is critical that 

you think carefully about who will provide 

reference letters for you. All the letters together 

should illustrate your progress and potential 

as both a scholar and a teacher, but each letter 

need not speak about every topic. Ask your 

letter writers explicitly if they can provide 

a strong or positive letter about you. As 

members of search committees, we have seen 

(very rarely) letter writers express misgivings 

about a job candidate, which impedes their 

consideration for a job. And remember to give 

your recommenders sufficient time to craft 

and submit their letters! 






The process of evaluating applications varies 

between institutions. Typically, application 

materials will be reviewed by the faculty 

hiring committee, although other members 

of the department may also have a chance 

to contribute feedback in this early stage. An 

initial screen of all applicants may remove those 

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who do not meet the minimum qualifications 

or who have incomplete applications. Full 

reads of all documents are then systematically 

completed by committee members. Searches 

may use a rubric to assess candidates’ strength 

in various areas, including enthusiasm for 

work at this specific PUI, teaching experience 

and interest, academic record, publication 

record, previous work with undergraduates, 

DEI issues, and perceived ability to contribute 

to the curriculum. Letters of support may be 

evaluated at this stage. The search committee 

discusses the applicants, balancing many 

factors (area of expertise, experience, DEI, etc.). 

The strongest applicants are then typically 

invited for a phone or online interview. For 

a tenure-track search for one position, 8 to 

15 candidates may be invited for the initial 

interviews, and of those, 2 to 4 may be 

invited to subsequent in-person interviews. 

In some cases, the search moves immediately 

to on-campus interviews. Check in with the 

ecoevojobs wiki to see if the community is 

updating the stage of the search, because 

some people on this forum share comments 

when they have cleared a particular stage in 

the interview process. The interview process, 

which deserves its own similar space, is not 

discussed in detail in this article. Please 

see King-Smith et al. (2021) for further 



Each of us has found great inspiration and 

satisfaction working at PUIs, even across the 

wide diversity in institutions and backgrounds 

represented by the authors. Our undergraduate 

students are eager partners in our research 

endeavors and educational journeys, and 

the unique challenge of building academic 

scaffolds for these emerging scholars is 

satisfying and an endeavor worthy of pursuit. 

We applaud and encourage others with similar 

interests and hope that the information 

herein can be useful for your preparation. 

PUIs encompass a broad part of the higher 

education landscape, and every institution 

and every search process is different. Reach 

out to others within our BSA community 

for guidance and support, and ask questions 

of faculty at schools that are similar to those 

that you would consider for a future job. Our 

botanical community thrives when we have 

our members secured in faculty positions, 

helping to educate the next generation of 

scientists and citizens. We hope you may be 

as professionally and personally fulfilled and 

happy as we have been in our PUI endeavors.


Discussions with Nathan Jud, Susana 

Wadgymar, and Mike Moore, as well as their 

contributions to the PUI workshop at Botany 

2022, were instrumental in the development 

of this article. The workshop was supported by 

NSF Award No. 2218485 “Botany 2022, PUI 

Section: Careers and Mentorship at Primarily 

Undergraduate Institutions” awarded to Dr. 

Nathan A. Jud (William Jewell College), Dr. 

Jennifer Ison (College of Wooster), Dr. Carrie 

Wu (University of Richmond), and Dr. Rachel 

McCoy (St. Norbert College). The authors 

also thank two anonymous reviewers and M. 

Jabaily for helpful comments on earlier drafts 

of this article.


King-Smith, C., C. Lund Dahlberg, and B. 

Riggs. 2021. Obtaining a faculty position at 

a primarily undergraduate institution (PUI). 

BMC Proceedings 15 (Suppl 2): 3. https://doi.


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Amelia Neely

BSA Membership & 




E-mail: ANeely@&lt;/i>




Thank you to everyone who purchased 

gift memberships during the 2022 Gift 

Membership Drive (October–December 

2022)! You can purchase one- or three-year 

gift memberships at any time for both students 

and developing nations’ colleagues. Want 

to donate a gift membership to students or 

developing nations’ colleagues instead? Simply 

put your own name and email in the recipient 

fields. Visit to get started.  


Congratulations to Katelyn Gobbie, the 2022 

Gift Membership Drive winner of the free 

registration to Botany 2023 – One World! 

Katelyn is a graduate student at John Carroll 

University. Katelyn’s primary interests are 

in plant ecology, botany, conservation, and 

adaptation to environmental change. Katelyn 

has a B.S. in Biology from John Carroll 

University and formerly worked as a Field 

Botanist Technician with the Cleveland 

Metroparks. Her thesis work will focus on 

biological soil crusts, particularly mosses, in 

gypsum and non-gypsum soils of the Mojave 

and Chihuahuan deserts.


Botany360 is a series of programming that 

connects our botanical community during the 

360 days outside of Botany Conferences. The 

Botany360 event calendar is a tool to highlight 

those events. The goal of this program is 

to connect the plant science community 

throughout the year with professional 

development, discussion sessions, and 

networking and social opportunities. To see 

the calendar visit

If you want to coordinate a Botany360 event 

email me at


Event Recordings

 Ace It! - Write a Better Title (March 2, 2022)

 Ace It! - Write a Better Abstract (March 

23, 2022)

 De-mystifying the MS submissions pro-

cess: Before you submit (Part 1) (May 11, 


 De-mystifying the MS submissions pro-

cess: Before you submit (Part 2) (May 18, 

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PSB 69 (1) 2023



 So you want to get involved with section 

leadership... (June 5, 2022)

 Applying to Grad School - A Q&A Ses-

sion (September 20, 2022)

 Utilizing Botany Conference Content in 

Your Teaching (November 2, 2022)

 Intro to Reviews and Meta-Analysis (No-

vember 7, 2022)

 How to be a Successful BSA Student 

Representative (slides only) (January 18, 


 Prepping for PLANTS: An Information-

al Webinar about the PLANTS Travel 

Awards for Underrepresented Under-

grads (March 10, 2023)



New this year, we are including a BSA 

Professional Member Highlights section each 

month in the Membership Matters newsletter. 

Below you will find the first two highlights 

of 2023. If you would like to be highlighted, 

email Amelia Neely at 

Dr. Amelia Merced  of the  USDA-FS 

International Institute of Tropical Forestry. 

(Twitter:  ;@AmeliaMerced   Website:  https://

Dr. Merced is a botanist interested in evolution, 

ecology, and conservation of bryophytes. 

Although trained as a plant anatomist 

and microscopist, she currently conducts 

field studies and works with the bryophyte 

collection at the herbarium of the University 

of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras. She is interested 

in the diversity and distribution of bryophytes 

in Puerto Rico and how they respond to 

anthropogenic and non-anthropogenic 

disturbances. An integral part of her work is 

to communicate science to the community. 

Dr. Kadeem Gilbert is an Assistant Professor at 

Michigan State University (Kellogg Biological 

Station and Department of Plant Biology). 

(Twitter:  ;@GilbertKadeem  Website:  www.

Dr. Gilbert studies carnivorous plants 


Nepenthes) and their 

interactions with insects and microbes. He 

also studies symbioses between plants and 

other organisms more broadly, focusing on the 

ability of plants to physiologically modify the 

properties of the microenvironment to which 

their symbionts are exposed. Dr. Gilbert was 

a  USDA-NIFA Postdoctoral Fellow at Penn 

State before moving to his new position in 


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PSB 69 (1) 2023




BSA Student Chapters are a great way to 

network with peers within institutions 

of learning through engaging activities, 

as well as take advantage of special 

BSA discounts—including a


Student  Membership  and  discounted 

registration to Botany Conferences.

Last year the BSA Student Representatives 

and the BSA Business Office worked together 

to revise the requirements for BSA Student 

Chapters. These included the following 


• Each chapter must have a faculty advisor

• Each chapter must have a President and a 


• The President and Secretary/Treasurer 

must be current BSA members

• Each chapter must report on 2 chapter 

activities each year

The BSA Student Chapters were given one year 

to fulfill these requirements. The following are 

the current BSA Student Chapters:

• Bucknell University - Student Chapter

• L.H. Baileys Botany Bunch - Cornell Uni-

versity - Student Chapter

• IISER Bhopal - Student Chapter

• Northwestern University - Student Chap-


• Oklahoma State University - Student 


• Otterbein University - Student Chapter

• South Dakota State University - Student 


• The Botany Club of Louisiana State Uni-

versity - Student Chapter

• University of Central Florida - Student 


• University of Hawai'i at Mānoa - Student 


• Weber State University - Student Chapter

We are excited to welcome the following new 

Student Chapters:

• Bartoo Botanical Society at Tennessee 

Tech University

• The Gustavus Botanical Society - Student 


• Idaho State University Botany Club - Po-

catello - Student Chapter

Below are some fun and exciting events that 

the Student Chapters organized in 2022:

• Bioblitzes

• Field trips: visiting a preserve, plant 

research lap tour, BOOtanical Red Butte 

Gardens, herbarium tour

• Going to symposiums and other lec-


• Having guest speakers

• Hikes

• Planting: erosion prevention, natives, 

plant swaps

• Plant sales and fundraisers

• Workshops: Paper making, natural soap 

making with invasive Hedera helix, pot-

tery painting, pumpkin carving/painting, 

plant ID, Monstera leaf coaster decorat-

ing, terrarium making, bioinformatic 

workshop, seed collection and seed bomb 

workshop, plant sample mounting: tech-

niques in herbarium


Visit the Student Chapter webpage at https://

chapters.html to learn more about the 

program and to see photos. If you want to start 

a Student Chapter at your institution, fill out 

the form at or email 

Amelia Neely at

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PSB 69 (1) 2023


You may be able to publish 

Open Access

 for free 

in the American Journal of Botany 

or Applications in Plant Sciences! 

Find out more at!

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60 years ago

Ira L. Wiggins describes a history of botanical exploration of Baja California, Mexico from 1696 to 1959.  

“There are areas very difficult of access, where even pack animals cannot be used and one must proceed 

under his own leg power. Water is always a problem toward the end of the dry season—and in some areas 

virtually the year around. Local food supplies are scanty or nil. Heat prostration is a common threat. Yet 

the country holds an appeal that is hard to resist, and botanical rewards are great. It will be a long time 

before the botanical investigations in Baja California are completed.”

Wiggins, Ira L. 1963. Botanical Investigations in Baja California, Mexico. PSB 9(1): 1-6.

50 years ago

“Following the influence of Coulter and Chamberlain at the turn of the century, the teaching of plant 

morphology in the United States has become almost synonymous with the study of plant life histories in 

a semi-taxonomic survey of the plant kingdom. As a result, the reproductive aspects of plant structure 

tend to receive the lion’s share of attention whereas features of general organization and organography are 

usually relegated to a brief but often inaccurate description of the plant’s ‘habit.’ While this outlook may 

be justified in treatments of algae and fungi where vegetative morphology is simpler and reproductive 

structures more complex, it seems less defensible in the study of higher plants where the reverse is true. 

Furthermore, when taught only within the taxonomic framework presently in vogue, morphology emerges 

simply as a handmaiden of systematics rather than a basic science in its own right.”

Kaplan, Donald R. 1973. The Teaching of Higher Plant Morphology in the United States. PSB 19(1): 6-9. 

40 years ago

“Information has been received that a project is underway to restore the gravesite of Stephen Hales, the 

person who did so much to put botany on a scientific basis and who is considered to be the founder of 

plant physiology. Professor E. T. Pengelley (Univ. of Calif., Riverside) visited the Parish Church of St. Mary 

in Teddington, Middlesex, England, where Stephen Hales was vicar for 51 years and is buried under the 

tower of the church (inside the church). The flat tombstone is badly worn after two centuries, and the 

inscription is completely illegible (although the original inscription is known).

“The American Society of Plant Physiologists has undertaken the restoration project, but the assistance of 

other societies and individuals will be needed to complete the project. If the Botanical Society of America 

could raise $500.00, recognition of the contribution would be indicated on a plaque at the gravesite.”

Gifford E.M.  Restoration Of Stephen Hales’ (1677-1761) Gravesite. 1982. PSB 28(6): 42. 


The 1983 volumes 1-4 are missing from the digital archives. 

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By Dr. Catrina Adams,  

Education Director

Jennifer Hartley, 

Education Programs 


Welcome New PlantingScience  


The PlantingScience staff has been fortunate 

to work with some amazing scientists since 

it began in 2005. In addition to volunteering 

their time and attention to mentoring our 

participant student teams, some also step up 

to serve as liaisons for teachers, monitoring 

conversations and ensuring that students have 

messages waiting each time they log in.

And then there are our coordinators! 

Coordinators are our interns, and during busy 

sessions we rely on them to help us answer 

questions, address concerns, and keep the 

session moving forward. We’re so pleased to 

announce that our 2023 

coordinators are and 

Jin (Ching-Yi) Liao and Shan Wong!

Jin Liao joined PlantingScience in 2019 

and served as a liaison in 2020, just as the 

COVID-19 pandemic was really taking 

hold. She came to us through the American 

Society of Plant Biologists, and her favorite 

themes to mentor are Agronomy Feeds the 

World, Plants Get Sick, Too!, and the Wonder 

of Seeds. These themes all closely related to 

her research, which focuses on autophagy 

(the process by which eukaryotic cells break 

down and recycle old or damaged cellular 

structures) and hormone signaling in plants 

when they are under stress.

Jin is also passionate about travel and science 

communication. She keeps a blog called Jin’s 

LifeRXiv ( where she 

posts some of her creative efforts to convey 

complex plant processes and concepts in 

the form of diagrams, artwork, and even a 

webcomic featuring an Arabidopsis plant 

named ‘Araby’. Her blog also describes 

handicrafts, such as using popsicle sticks 


create wall shelving in the molecular 

shapes of plant hormones! Jin has recently 

taken a postdoc position at the University of 

California - Davis, and we’re so pleased she 

decided to spend some of her time working 

with us to keep the spring and fall sessions 

running smoothly!

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Shan Wong joined PlantingScience in 2021 

and served as a liaison and mentor in fall 

of 2021 and spring of 2022. Shan became 

involved with orchid conservation while 

interning at Kadoorie Farm and Botanic 

Garden in Hong Kong. As an undergraduate, 

she studied the relationships between native 

and invasive orchids and their mycorrhizal 

fungi, and she has gone on to study vanilla 

orchids at Texas Tech University, where she 

is preparing to complete her PhD. Shan also 

studies arthropods, specifically spiders!

Shan’s favorite Investigation Theme is The 

Wonder of Seeds, and one of her favorite 

PlantingScience memories is of a class that 

invited her to meet via a video call during 

their session.  She says, “During the meeting, 

students were excited to show me their seeds 

treated with different light conditions in the 

experiment and curious about how I pursued 

my career in plant science. I was thrilled to 

help students learn more about plant science 

and happy to inspire them to consider their 

career in plant science.”



We’ve reached the middle of the Spring 2023 

session of PlantingScience!  Right now, more 

than 300 middle school students are spending 

more time talking about food crops than 

they likely ever have before. In particular, in 

Dewitt Middle School in Michigan, the entire 

7th grade is working on Wonder of Seeds, and 

two of their 8th grade classes are studying 

Agronomy Feeds the World.  Many thanks 

to the mentors and liaisons who are pitching 

in this session; some of us were able to take 

part in some Zoom sessions with the students, 

and they are very excited about their projects!  

Besides DeWitt, we have participating groups 

from 12 other schools this season who are 

studying Brassica genetics, C-fern life cycles, 

celery plant tissues, and phytopathology.

We are also working with our website provider, 

HubZero, to make some improvements to our 

platform. With the help of our current groups 

and our coordinators, we’re begun piloting 

new approaches to mentor recruitment and 

building up some of our support options. 

More exciting changes to come!

Finally, we’re also looking ahead to our 

efficacy research to begin this summer. 


Over 100 teachers have applied to take 

part, and we are currently recruiting early 

career scientists to participate as F2 Fellows. 

Information about this opportunity can be 

found on the PlantingScience website (www.

Please plan to mentor a 

team or two with  

PlantingScience in the Fall!

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The eighth Life Discovery – Doing Science 

Biology Education Conference was held 

March 23-25, 2023 at Florida A&M University 

in Tallahassee, Florida. This small (~100 

attendees) stand-alone education conference 

is co-sponsored by BSA along with the 

Ecological Society of America and the Society 

for the Study of Evolution, and includes 

networking sessions, a share-fair/peer working 

group format for discussing lesson plans or 

activities at any stage of development, as well 

as more traditional hands-on workshop and 

short presentations. 

The theme of this year’s conference was 

“Variants in Biology Education: What can we 

learn from pandemics?” with three subthemes: 

“How have pandemics influenced education 

and has teaching and learning evolved and/

or adapted to meet this challenge?”, “How do 

we prepare our students for a fast-evolving 

scientific phenomenon and perhaps and 

even faster ‘viral’ spread of divergent sources 

of information that resist the scientific base 

for evolution and science in general?”, and 

“Where are the jobs and careers in our field 

headed over the next 5-10 years, considering 

reliance on government sources of funding? 

How are educators preparing our students in 

an evolving job market?” 

On Friday of the conference, Dr. Victor 

Ibeaenusi, Founder and Director of 

the EnergyWaterFoodNexus (EWFN) 

International Summits and Dean School of 

the Environment at Florida A&M University, 

delivered a keynote talk about the impact 

of global climate change on access to safe 

water, procurement of sustainable energy 

and food security, and how the EWFN open 

science approach aims at disruptive and 

accelerated transformations to sustainable 

development. On Saturday, Dr. Heather 

Lanthorn, Co-Director of the Mercury Project 

at the Social Science Research Council, 

gave a keynote talk on “Science Information 

amid Misinformation.” A keynote panel 

featured Dr. Brenda Spencer, Director of the 

Undergraduate Student Success Center at 

Florida A&M University, and Dr. Tamara 

Basham, Professor of Environmental Science at 

the Collin County Community College Plano 

Campus. BSA’s Education staff, Catrina Adams 

and Jennifer Hartley, attended and presented 

about PlantingScience and our ongoing 

education research into the program’s efficacy, 

while highlighting one of PlantingScience’s 

newest investigation themes: “Tree-mendous 

Benefits of Trees” module (co-developed with 

the American Society of Phytopathology). 

The Life Discovery conferences are held 

approximately every 18 months, and the 

next conference will be in Fall 2024. Please 

consider attending this conference in the 

future. There are typically awards for travel 

and dependent-care support available to 

encourage community college, tribal college 

and university, and other minority-serving 

institution faculty to attend, as well as educators 

who are from communities underrepresented 

in the ecological sciences. It’s an excellent 

place to network with other biology educators, 

get feedback on teaching materials under 

development, and present your teaching and 

outreach efforts! You can read more about the 

Life Discovery Conferences at: https://www.

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We were excited to lead a Botany360 webinar earlier this year on “How to be a Successful 

BSA Student Representative.” If you missed it and would like to access the slides from the 

presentation, go to, and be sure to email us at and if you have any questions. (For more information on the Botany360 

series, see the Membership article in this issue.)





The BSA Spotlight Series highlights early-

career scientists in the BSA community and 

shares both scientific goals and achievements, 

as well as personal interests of the botanical 

scientists, so you can get to know your BSA 

community better. 

Here are the Spotlights since the last PSB was 

published—along with some advice from each 

member for those starting their botanical 


By Ioana Anghel and Eli Hartung 

BSA Student Representatives

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Oluwatoyosi Adaramodu

Graduate Student, Biology  

(School of Art and Sciences) 

University of Pennsylvania

Stay curious: The field of botany is vast and 

constantly evolving, so be sure to keep an 

open mind and a thirst for knowledge. There 

is always more to learn, so don’t be afraid to 

ask questions and seek out new resources.

Josh Felton


Colorado College  

Organismal Biology and Ecology

While my journey has similarly just begun, 

looking back at the past couple of years, I 

would say I would not feel as connected to the 

botanical community if I was not following 

so many cool botanists on Twitter. It has been 

a great space to see what botanists are up to 

in their personal and work lives. Botanical 

Twitter has also allowed me to get a sneak peek 

into what graduate students and postdocs 

are up to that I would not otherwise get to 

see coming from a liberal arts institution. I 

also recommend not being afraid to reach 

out to anybody whose research is interesting 

to you. It is often the case that whoever you 

are reaching out to will be joyous to geek out 

about plants.


Oluwatobi Oso 

Graduate Student,  

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology 

Yale University

Botany is not all lab!!! Actively look for 

opportunities to grow, join a community of 

people passionate about similar interests, ask 

questions, and be open to learning. And like 

every journey, it helps to ‘plant-science’ one 

day at a time.

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Johan David Reyes

Graduate Student 


Edge Hill University  

World Museum Liverpool

Never be afraid of contacting someone you 

admire! It harbours amazing collaboration 

opportunities. As Gerald Holton once said ‘… 

we are now uniquely privileged to sit side-by-

side with the giants on whose shoulders we 

stand’. Collaboration and putting yourself out 

there are important to achieve whatever you 

envision. In addition, surround yourself with 

kind people that will help you in your journey, 

but do not be afraid to move somewhere new 

if you feel it will lead to great personal and 

professional growth. At the end, each journey 

is different.

Min Ya

Postdoctoral Fellow,  

Department of Ecology and Evolutionary 


University of Connecticut

If it’s possible, take your time to find out 

what you’re passionate about, and don’t 

be afraid of exploring unknown fields. 

Surround yourself with good people. Good 

mentors, good peer supporting groups, 

and good communities are about the most 

important things in your scientific journey. 

Learn about yourself, recognize signs of 

burn out and practice self-care. Try your 

best to always make time for your hobbies. 

Would you like to nominate yourself 

or an early career scientist to be in 

the Spotlight Series? Fill out this form:

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Carl John Burk, a beloved botany professor 

at Smith College, passed away July 2022 in 

Northampton, Massachusetts. Generations 

of Smith students benefited from his warm, 

enthusiastic, and genuinely caring personality 

as he introduced them to the fascinating 

world of plants and their environments. John 

is remembered by all who knew him as being 

upbeat, optimistic, and always positive.

John was born in 1935 in Troy, Ohio; “the 

other Troy” he was fond of saying, referring 

to the ancient city. He received his B.A. 

(1957) from Miami University in Ohio 

and his M.A. (1959) and Ph.D. (1961) at 

the University of North Carolina-Chapel 

Hill. His doctoral research was a floristic 

study of the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  


In 1961 John joined the faculty of what was 

then the Botany Department, and became the 

Department of Biological Sciences, at Smith 

College, starting what would become a long 

and rich teaching and research career. John 

served the department for over four decades, 

retiring in 2009 as Elsie Damon Simonds 

Professor in the Life Sciences, Emeritus. 

“Retired from teaching,” he would emphasize. 

He pursued professional and research 

activities well into his post-retirement years.  


For decades John taught plant systematics 

and plant ecology in addition to courses 

in biogeography and conservation. He 

maintained the college herbarium and 

was deeply involved in shaping the plant 

collections in the Lyman Plant House and 

Botanical Gardens at Smith. Former students 

recall John as a favorite professor, a teacher 

who nourished a love for learning, and for 

walking really fast on field trips.

John’s research areas included the botany, 

biogeography, and ecology of coastal areas 

and freshwater wetlands, as well as historical 

studies including botanical gardens and 

botanical illustration. Local sites including 

the Mill River and Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary 

in Easthampton (MA) became his laboratory, 

where he and many of his undergraduate and 

graduate research students carried out floristic 

projects and long-term ecological studies. 

Notably, John never questioned the ability 

or appropriateness of his primarily female 

students doing rigorous field work. John 

was elected as an AAAS Fellow in 1995. In 

more recent years John worked with German 

colleagues on comparative studies of plants 

in New England and in Northern Germany. 

His most recent paper, published in 2020 in 

the  Proceedings of the National Academy of 

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Sciences, “Forest and woodland replacement 

patterns following drought-related mortality,” 

is co-authored by 37 scientists from different 

parts of the world. After retirement, John 

continued as associate editor of the Journal 

of the Torrey Botanical Society. He enjoyed 

his editorial duties that helped him stay 

connected with colleagues and with current 

research in his field.

Appreciating his own undergraduate liberal 

arts background, John believed strongly in 

integrating diverse disciplines within the 

sciences and with the humanities. He enjoyed 

interacting and co-teaching with his colleagues 

in and outside his department, appreciated 

their expertise in their fields, and valued their 

friendships. He was an avid bird watcher and 

led the annual bird walk on campus for many 

years. Generous with his time, he was always 

happy to share his rich botanical knowledge 

with others.

Contributing to the community was 

important to John. He served on the Sanctuary 

Committee of Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary 

in Easthampton (MA) for many years and 

oversaw the permanent conservation of family 

property in Hatfield (MA), now a popular 

hiking destination for the community. In talks 

to general audiences, he was capable of making 

science accessible to non-scientists. In 1987–

88, he gave the College’s annual Katharine 

Asher Engel Lecture, pleased to be talking 

about his research on the changing landscapes 

of New England to a wider audience. He 

was frequently called upon to identify some 

mystery plant; this he did with great pleasure 

and enjoyed advising colleagues and friends 

on botanical questions. John also loved nature 

at his home, and the appearance of a rabbit 

around the flower beds did not upset him. His 

philosophy was “live and let live.” Indoors, 

he was proud of his heirloom African violet 


John met his wife Lâle in 1962 when she 

arrived from Istanbul to start graduate studies 

in chemistry. They got married in 1966 and 

had two sons, John Seljuk and Nicholas 

Murat. Lâle eventually became a faculty 

member in Chemistry at Smith College, and 

the two of them were mutually supportive of 

their careers.

John was an informed traveler with a rich 

knowledge of history. He was grateful for trips 

to the Amazon and to East Africa before these 

vulnerable places became more endangered. 

Later trips included travels to Turkey. An 

untiring hiker, he walked daily around the 

periphery of Büyükada, the largest of the 

Princes’ Islands off of Istanbul where Lâle’s 

parents summered. His bird watching there 

contributed to local bird count data and 

papers on bird migration patterns. Another 

favorite site in Turkey was near ancient Troy, 

the ruins on the hill in Assos that overlook 

the nearby island of Lesbos and home of 

Theophrastus, “the father of botany.” Other 

memorable travels were trips to botanical 

gardens in Hawaii, to English gardens, to 

tulip fields in the Netherlands, and to many 

historic gardens in Europe. During his last 

trip in the fall of 2019, he visited one of the 

oldest botanic gardens in the world, Hortus 

Botanicus in Amsterdam.

John had a deep interest in art and in music. He 

was a constant visitor to the College’s libraries 

and the local public library, and he visited the 

College’s art museum frequently. He enjoyed 

opera trips to New York and to the Hamburg 

Opera and Ballet. Special also were excursions 

in the summer to the Clark Art Institute in 

Williamstown (MA) where he and Lâle went 

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on their first date, and to Tanglewood, where 

he was delighted by the occasional bird song 

contributing to the music in the “Shed.” He 

was funny with a keen sense of humor. He 

appreciated life’s ironies and could see the 

big picture, separating what was important 

from what was not. He will be missed. 

[Portions of this article were modified from the 

family obituary of Carl John Burk, used with 






Christopher Robert Davidson was the proud 

scion of generations of Idahoans, who applied 

his passion for plants to the world’s flora. 

Although Chris considered Idaho the center 

of the world, he viewed the world as his study 

site and garden, and the entire vascular flora 

as his study organisms. He found wonder in 

all parts of the natural world, in each of its 

plants, and in all cultivated gardens, and he 

delighted in biological diversity at any scale 

and in every bit of time spent in the field. 

Chris did leave Idaho (although not the West) 

for undergrad studies at Whitman College in 

the adjacent state of Washington, where he 

aimed to study geology but quickly pivoted to 

botany. He followed this academic stint with 

Ph.D. studies at Claremont College in southern 

California, working with Robert Thorne and 

Sherwin Carlquist and exploring widely the 

botany southern California. Here he focused 

his academic work on the Datiscaceae (Liston 

et al., 1973), and began his life-long interest in 

disjunct plant distributions. Chris finished in 

1972 and took his shiny new botany doctorate 

to a curatorial appointment at the Los 

Angeles Natural History Museum. He spent 

1975–1979 there and conducted an active 

program of tropical botanical exploration. 

He made a number of field expeditions from 

there, collecting ~10,700 specimen numbers 

in Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, Bolivia, 

Brazil, and Peru—at a time when tropical 

logistics were much less convenient than 

today, and knowledge of the tropical flora 

much more limited than now. 

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In 1980 Chris returned to Boise for his 

beloved daughter Sara’s arrival into his life, 

to raise the next Davidson generation in the 

family homeland. Here he also began a new 

phase of his botanical work focused on living 

collections in Boise and in McCall, in west-

central Idaho. Here during 1980–1985 he also 

edited part or all of Madroño volumes 28–31. 

In 1984 he started the Idaho Botanical Garden 

in Boise, assembling a board of local civic 

leaders, arranging the lease of a plot of land, and 

overseeing the Garden’s development during 

its early years. Here he met Sharon Christoph 

(Figure 1), who became his wife and his long-

term close botanical collaborator. During 

that time, Chris also took over managing and 

significantly  developing  the  family-owned 

Charlie’s Garden in McCall (Figure 1), a 

green wonderland that was the pet project 

of his step-father, Charlie Davidson. Chris 

expanded and developed Charlie’s Garden, 

keeping it open to informal public access, 

and he also developed an extensive private 

garden for himself on his family’s estate in 

Boise. Charlie’s Garden is still open to the 

public and much appreciated locally, and 

both of these Idaho gardens contain a diverse 

collection of botanically notable Asian and 

North American species. 

In 2002 Chris began yet another phase of his 

botanical work when he and Sharon started 

traveling  around  the  world  to  find  various 

plant families with limited distributions. This 

became the formal Flora of the 

project in 2008, with the development of a 

website registered as https://floraoftheworld.



and the plan formulated for organized 

botanical exploration and support for 

capacity development in tropical botany. 

Flora of the aims to document all 

the flowering plant families and genera, with 

vouchered photos of living plants in their 

habitats. To date, this project has more than 

230,000 images corresponding to around 

13,000 voucher collections. The plants were 

photographed  in  the  field  by  Chris,  Sharon, 

and a few colleagues across the world, in 

collaboration with local botanists worldwide. 

This project aims to fill a gap in knowledge 

of the world’s plants by systematically 

documenting with digital images the living 

morphology  of  all  flowering  plant  diversity. 

The project was fully mapped out and well 

underway toward coverage of all the world’s 

plant families, with the champagne chilled for 

the completion celebration, when the deeply 

revised  new  APG  II  classification  of  the 

flowering plants was published (Angiosperm 

Phylogeny Group II, 2003) and the finish line 

was suddenly pushed way, way into the future 

by the multiplication of plant families: from 

~200 to 430. But Chris and Sharon accepted 

the  expanded  challenge,  flew  around  the 

world to 45 countries, drove and walked many 

a mile, had too many adventures to count, and 

were only eight families short of completion 

when he died. 

Figure 1. Chris Davidson and Sharon Christoph 

in Charlie’s Garden in McCall, Idaho, in 2012. 

(Photo courtesy of Barbara Ertter.) 

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Chris’s support for botanical activities also 

took the form of his personal counsel and 

support, as well as financial contributions. 

He funded travel for his colleagues, both 

when accompanying him and for their own 

work, as well as infrastructure improvements 

in many of the places he visited. He also 

provided critical longer-term support for field 

exploration programs in some target areas, 

including the Republic of Georgia, Chiapas 

in southern Mexico, and the Andes of central 

Peru, and he helped botanical garden efforts 

in various countries with advice and support.  

His attention to all this did not replace 

attention for his beloved Idaho, though, and 

he also made his home base at the Snake River 

Plains Herbarium at Boise State University 

and explored and collected all across the state. 

His focus on world plant diversity also did not 

eclipse his attention to study of his own group 

of interest, the tropical family Piperaceae, 

and he collaborated in these studies with 

various colleagues in several countries. And 

apart from all these groups, 10 new tropical 

vascular plant species were named to honor 

him, based on his specimen collections and/

or collaborations (Figure 2). 

Chris was a well-loved husband, father, and 

grandfather, and he was also a very valued 

colleague and friend to many people around 

the world. His influences on our botanical 

field have been quiet and collaborative but 

no less significant for that. He was North 

American in having his own animal totem, 

the hedgehog, and he regarded himself as a 

correspondingly spiny personality but was 

nothing like that. He was notable personally 

for his gentle manner, sly wit, broad botanical 

knowledge, generosity in all things, and love 

of both plants and champagne; for being a 

thoroughly good man; and for his endless, 

pure sense of wonder.


Angiosperm Phylogeny Group. 2003. An update of the 

Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the or-

ders and families of flowering plants: APG II. Botani-

cal Journal of the Linnean Society 141: 399–436.
Liston, A., L. H. Rieseberg, and T. S. Elias. 1990. Mor-

phological stasis abd[sic] molecular divergence in the 

intercontinental disjunct denus Datisca (Datiscaceae). 

Aliso 8: 49–110.

-Charlotte M. Taylor


, Roy E. Gereau


, W. 

Douglas Stevens


, Barbara Ertter



Sven Buerki


, Olga Martha Montiel


, and  

Sharon Christoph



Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri USA  


Boise, Idaho USA 


Boise State University, Boise, Idaho USA 


Wildwood, Missouri USA

Figure 2. Left to right, Chris Davidson, Mar-

tin Callmander, and Sven Buerki in New 

Caledonia in 2011, standing in front of the 

tree from which the type collection was made 

of  Podonephelium davidsonii Munzinger, 

Lowry, Callm. & Buerki (Sapindaceae). (Pho-

to courtesy of Porter P. Lowry, II.)

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David W. Lee, a BSA Distinguished Botanist 

and member of the BSA for more than 40 

years, died in Crestone, CO on December 

13, 2022.  David was a botanist of amazing 

breadth, excelling in his research and outreach 

to both professional and lay communities.  He 

grew up in eastern Washington state, studying 

science and getting his undergraduate degree 

at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA. 

He took a year off during his undergraduate 

studies to travel in the south Pacific, which 

initiated a life-long love for traveling and 

botany. David earned his MSc and PhD in 

Botany (1970) at Rutgers University, using 

electrophoretic techniques to understand 

cattail (Typha) phylogeny under Dr. David 

David and his wife Carol at their home in 

Crestone, CO, October, 2014. [Photo credit: 

John Palenchar.]



Fairbrothers. After two years in a post-doc 

at Ohio State University (where he met and 

married Carol Rotsinger, his life-long wife), 

he became a lecturer at the University of 

Malaya for four years (1973–1977), where he 

grounded himself in tropical botany. He then 

worked on tree architecture with Dr. Francis 

Halle in Montpelier, France (1977–78). In 

1980 he was hired as the only botanist in the 

Department of Biological Sciences at Florida 

International University (FIU), the young and 

growing public university in Miami, FL.

David spent most of the rest of his professional 

career at FIU, where he worked to expand 

botanical research and education, with a 

special focus on tropical plants. During his 

career, he published 71 referred articles and 

15 book chapters. He did pioneering work 

on the basis for plant adaption to low-light 

environments of tropical forests, including 

discovering the structural basis for blue color 

in leaves and fruits lacking blue pigments, 

methods to experimentally simulate the 

spectral changes of canopy shade, as well as 

the basis for red color in flushing leaves and 

during autumn senescence. Early in his time 

at FIU, he convinced the University that 

botany is especially important at FIU and 

in Miami, given its location in a subtropical 

environment with ready access to the New 

World tropics. David created a certificate 

program in tropical commercial botany to 

serve the nursery and agricultural community 

and educated journalists like Georgia 

Tasker about tropical botany. He developed 

professional relationships with researchers 

at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden 

(FTBG), which he worked to formalize in 

a cooperative agreement between the two 

institutions with the goal of advancing both 

research and education in tropical botany. 

Later (2007–2008), he became Director of 

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the Kampong, part of the National Tropical 

Botanical Garden, where he helped to lay the 

groundwork for the International Center for 

Tropical Botany, a research and education 

collaboration between FIU and the National 

Tropical Botanical Garden.  

David generously served the FIU Biological 

Sciences Department and the University. He 

was on the departmental Graduate Committee, 

the Faculty Senate, the Faculty Senate 

Environment Committee, Faculty Senate 

Strategic Planning Committee and College 

Tenure and Promotion Committee, to name 

a few. He also served as the inaugural chair 

of the Department of Environmental Studies 

and as Chair of the Department of Biological 

Sciences. He even chaired the search for the 

FIU men’s basketball coach in 1995. David 

played basketball as an undergraduate at 

Pacific Lutheran and continued to play pickup 

games on campus with team members of FIU 

men’s and women’s basketball throughout his 

time at FIU. 

He also worked to expand the botanical faculty 

at FIU and to develop undergraduate and 

graduate curricula in plant sciences. Initially 

he taught Plant Physiology but expanded to 

Tropical Botany and later developed a non-

majors course that became very popular: 

Introductory Botany. Students in this course 

would not only grow plants under lights in the 

lab, but each group had a garden bed where 

they grew vegetables and herbs, a formative 

experience for many who would recall that 

activity as their favorite. He also taught 

“Functional Ecology of Tropical Plants” 

to students in the Landscape Architecture 

program and developed a course called “The 

Meaning of the Garden” for the FIU Liberal 

Studies program, in which students would 

do weekly physical gardening and then learn 

about all the kinds of gardens in Miami and the 

world. David was deeply involved in graduate 

training, mentoring five Ph.D. and seven MSc 

students to completion as major professor.  In 

part for his educational innovations, David 

received the BSA’s Bessey Award for teaching 

in 2006.   

David’s educational efforts extended beyond 

the university; he wrote books ranging from 

local plant identification books (Wayside 

Trees of Miami, 2011; Trees of Gurudev 

Siddha Peeth, India, 1985), books about 

environmental problems (The Sinking Ark: 

David leading a walk looking at Miami street 

trees, both native and exotic, for a group of Mi-

ami artists, March 2016. [Photo credit: Naomi 

R. Fisher.]

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Environmental Problems in Southeast Asia

1980), historical books (editing The World 

as Garden: The Life and Writings of David 

Fairchild, 2013), and books making botanical 

knowledge and research accessible to the 

public (Nature’s Palette: The Science of Plant 

Color, 2007; Nature’s Fabric: Leaves in Science 

and Culture, 2017). Nature’s Palette won the 

Best of Biology and Life Sciences Award from 

the Association of American Publishers, 

whereas  Nature’s Fabric won the Choice 

Magazine: CHOICE Outstanding Academic 

Title Award.  Most recently, David worked 

with Dr. Peter Ashton to take the information 

on their research and experience in southeast 

Asian tropical forests and make it accessible 

to both researchers and the educated public 

in Trees and Forests of Tropical Asia: Exploring 

Tapovan (2022). In 2019, the BSA recognized 

David’s contributions to the plant sciences 

by awarding him the Distinguished Fellow 

Award, which is the highest honor the Society 

can bestow.

In his retirement, David continued his 

scientific writing but also set up an art studio 

at his new home, located at 7900 ft. in Creston, 

CO. There, he enthusiastically expanded his 

artistic side by making paper from native plant 

fibers and dried flowers. His creations sold in 

a local gallery in Crestone. He greatly enjoyed 

returning to the temperate environment and 

plants of his youth, writing articles about the 

Colorado flora for the local newspaper. 

As a person, David was generous, caring, 

and fundamentally aware of, sensitive to, and 

a proponent for the spirituality of nature. 

He could not think poorly of anyone and 

was always looking for and promoting the 

positive aspects of people he knew, be they 

students, faculty, local/national/international 

colleagues and collaborators, administrators, 

or laypeople. 

Before he died, and as part of the botanical 

outreach that characterized his life, he left a 

website that explains how and why he became 

a botanist, what that entailed and what that 

enabled, accompanied by illustrations of the 

plants, people, and places that he cared about. 

His passion for the wonders of it all comes 


-Jennifer Richards (FIU), Suzanne Koptur 

(FIU), Steve Oberbauer (FIU), and Jack Fisher 


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Spooner.  “Spooner-Dooner,” as we sometimes 

called him.  He was a hard-working student, 

colleague, friend, and a character.  There 

were many parts of Dave’s personality that 

one remembers, and all fondly so. He was a 

kind person, unassuming, ready to laugh, 

and nearly always smiling. He liked people, 

manifested by his collaborations with more 

than 200 colleagues during his career. He was 

tall and lanky, good-spirited, and always game 

for more field work in the mountains from 

Mexico to Argentina and in many other parts 

of the world. 

David Michael Spooner was born on 1 

November 1949 in Downey, California, the son 

of David Spooner and Ann (Jordan) Spooner. 

He began his academic education at Miami 

University (Ohio) in 1967, earning a B.A. in 

1971. Subsequently he served in the Army, but 

he took advantage of his geographic posting 

to enroll in botany courses at the University 

of Maryland.  In 1974 he entered the graduate 

program at Ohio University (Athens), working 

under the supervision of Prof. Robert Lloyd 

on a reproductive biological study in Dentaria 

laciniata and D. diphylla (Spooner, 1984), 

earning an M.S. in 1976. He took a break 

from academic studies and began working for 

the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, 

investigating rare and endangered species of 

the state, as well as the influence of the ancient 

Teays River system on plant distributions in 

southeastern Ohio. In the Fall of 1982, he 

entered the Ph.D. program in the Department 

of Botany at Ohio State University, working 

in the laboratory of Tod Stuessy, and focusing 

on evolutionary monography of the genus 

Simsia (Compositae). As this was a Latin 

American plant group, Dave plunged into 

learning Spanish to aid his fieldwork (totaling 

five months). This was the beginning of a 

long career of plant investigations in Latin 


After graduation from Ohio State in 

1987, Dave took a job at the University of 

Wisconsin, Madison, in a split position as 

Assistant Professor in the Department of 

Horticulture and as Botanist in the Vegetable 

Crops Research Unit of the USDA on campus.  

His research interests focused on crop plants, 

initially on the potato and its wild relatives, 

and later turning to carrots. This dual-posting 

arrangement might have seemed intimidating 

to some academics, but it suited Dave because 

it provided scheduling flexibility for the field 

studies that he loved and did so well. The 

Latin American countries Dave visited over 

his career included Nicaragua (1986), Mexico 

(1988, 1997), Chile (1989, 1990), Argentina 

(1990), Ecuador (1991), Colombia (1992), 

Venezuela (1992), Bolivia (1993, 1994), 

Guatemala (1995), Costa Rica (1996), Peru 

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(1998, 1999), Honduras (2000), and Panama 

(2000).  He also collected in the western U.S. 

(2010), Nepal (1995), Morocco (2012, 2013), 

and Spain (2016). In total, he spent 30 months 

in the field. 


Collecting potato germplasm in Peru in 1999 

with Alberto Salas (specialist with the Interna-

tional Potato Center, Lima). Photo by Alejandro 

Balaguer (USDA Image Number K9020-20).

As Dave’s research developed, he worked 

in parallel on systematic monography and 

molecular phylogenetics and evolution. This 

is not the place for an in-depth analysis of his 

research productivity and impact, but by any 

reckoning it was impressive, encompassing 

more than 220 articles dealing with 

systematics, biogeography, genetics, genomics, 

phylogenetic reconstruction, phylogeography, 

and crop improvement, among others, 

and in well-known journals such as PNAS

Nature GeneticsAmerican Journal of Botany

Systematic BotanyEvolutionTheoretical and 

Applied  Genetics, and Taxon.  His doctoral 

thesis on Simsia appeared in Systematic 

Botany Monographs (1990), but over the years 

there were four additional monographs in this 

prestigious monographic series on Solanum 

(Spooner et al., 2004, 2016, 2019; Peralta 

et al., 2008), plus a comprehensive review 

(Spooner et al., 2014), totaling 1040 pages!  He 

published 19 papers in the American Journal 

of Botany on potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, 

and evolutionary topics (e.g., Hijmans and 

Spooner, 2001; Peralta and Spooner, 2001; 

Spooner et al., 1993, 2001), with the article 

in 1993 of particular significance where he 

and colleagues demonstrated that potatoes 

and tomatoes belong more appropriately 

to the same genus. He authored a paper in 

PNAS showing a single domestication for the 

potato based on AFLP genotyping (Spooner 

et al., 2005). His recent research focused on 

the origin of the cultivated carrot (Daucus 

carota; e.g., Spooner et al., 2017), including 

participating in assembly of the entire genome 

(Iorizzo et al., 2016). 

Dave was the perfect match for the crop 

science initiatives within the USDA. He had 

a strong grounding in botanical monography 

and experience in fieldwork, which allowed 

him to address issues relating to species 

concepts, ecology, and speciation, and he 

gained proficiency in molecular methods to 

infer more precise estimates of relationships. 

With all of this information, he was able to 

contribute toward improvements of potatoes 

and carrots. He was a dedicated collaborator, 

enthusiastic about interactions with people 

from diverse cultures, especially from the 

United States, Latin America, and Europe. 

He was successful in obtaining substantial 

grant support for his field and laboratory 

studies. The field work was often supported 

from the USDA Plant Genetic Resources 

System, but he garnered numerous other 

sources of funding including major support 

from NSF under the Plant Biotic Inventories 

on the genus Solanum (with Lynn Bohs, Sandra 

Knapp, and Michael Nee). Other funding 

came from the USDA National Research 

Initiative Competitive Grants Program and 

the University of Wisconsin.

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Dave was active in several professional 

societies: the Society for Economic Botany; 

the Potato Association of America; and the 

Botanical Society of America, serving as 

Secretary (2003–2006), Council Member 

(2007–2008), Program Director (2009–2011), 

and Chair of the Economic Botany Section 

(2002–2008). He was a board member of the 

William L. Brown Center at the Missouri 

Botanical Garden and the Calvin Sperling 

Biodiversity Committee in the Crop Science 

Society of America. He also served on 

numerous committees in the Department 

of Horticulture at Madison, as well as in the 


He received several honors and recognitions: 

The Edmund H. Fulling Award for the best 

paper presented at the 1990 Annual Meeting 

of the Society for Economic Botany; a 

Centennial Award (2007) from the Botanical 

Society of America; outstanding paper awards 

at the Crop Science Society of America (2007, 

2009); USDA Midwest Area Senior Scientist 

of the Year Award (2008); Honorary Fellow of 

the Scottish Crop Research Institute (Dundee; 

2006-2009); and an elected Fellow of the 

AAAS (2009).

In June of 2019, Dave was diagnosed with a 

multiple myeloma, a bone/blood cancer that 

affected the bone marrow and had numerous 

other adverse effects on his back and liver. 

Dave accepted this physical setback, and 

he continued research with an abbreviated 

schedule. A man of faith, he faced his 

imminent demise with an open heart and 

a conviction that something better was 

awaiting him.  He passed away on 7 June 2022 

in Janesville, Wisconsin. He is survived by 

his two children—a daughter, Lisa Spooner 

Lauren, and a son, Danny Spooner—and 

seven siblings. 

At heart, Dave was a dedicated field biologist, 

pure and simple. “As a child I almost lived in 

the woods, and all I ever wanted to be was 

a botanist. I dreamt of traveling in remote 

mountainous areas, driving a jeep, collecting 

plants, and meeting indigenous peoples. I 

can still recall the unbelievable feeling of 

adventure and energy of my first field trips 

in Mexico and Central America, living out a 

dream I held all my life.”  (Spooner, 2011, pp. 

30–31).  We like to think that our friend and 

colleague, Spooner-Dooner, is no longer with 

us because he is just off again on another field 

trip—extending his dream for eternity.


Hijmans, R. J., and D. M. Spooner. 2001.  Geographic 

distribution of wild potato species. American Journal 

of Botany 88: 2101-2112.
Iorizzo, M., S. Ellison, D. Senalik, P. Zeng, P. Satapoo-

min, J. Huang, M. Bowman, et al. 2016. A high-quality 

carrot genome assembly reveals new insights into ca-

rotenoid accumulation and Asterid genome evolution. 

Nature Genetics 48: 657-666.
Peralta, I. E., and D. M. Spooner. 2001. GBSSI phy-

logeny of wild tomatoes (Solanum L. section Lycoper-

sicon [Mill.] Wettst. Subsection Lycopersicon).  Ameri-

can Journal of Botany 88: 1888-1902.
Peralta, I. E., D. M. Spooner, and S. Knapp. 2008. The 

taxonomy of tomatoes: A revision of wild tomatoes 

(Solanum section Lycopersicon) and their outgroup 

relatives in sections Juglandifolium and Lycopersicoi-

des. Systematic Botany Monographs 84: 1-186. 
Spooner, D. M. 1984. Reproductive features of Den-

taria laciniata and D. diphylla (Cruciferae), and the 

implications in the taxonomy of the eastern North 

American Dentaria complex. American Journal of 

Botany 71: 999-1005.
Spooner, D. M. 1990. Systematics of Simsia (Compos-

itae-Heliantheae). Systematic Botany Monographs 30: 

Spooner,  D.  M.  2011.  The  significance  of  fieldwork 

in monographic studies. In: Stuessy, T. F., and H. W. 

Lack (eds.), Monographic plant systematics: Funda-

mental assessment of plant biodiversity, 25-32. A. R. 

G. Gantner: Ruggell.

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Spooner, D. M., N. Álvarez, I. E. Peralta, and A. M. 

Clausen. 2016. Taxonomy of wild potatoes and their 

relatives in southern South America (Solanum sects. 

Petota and Etuberosum).  Systematic Botany Mono-

graphs 100: 1-240.
Spooner, D. M., G. J. Anderson, and R. K. Jansen. 

1993.  Chloroplast DNA evidence for the interrelation-

ships of tomatoes, potatoes, and pepinos (Solanaceae). 

American Journal of Botany 80: 676-688.
Spooner, D. M., M. Ghislain, R. Simon, S. H. Jansky, 

and T. Gavrilenko. 2014. Systematics, diversity, genet-

ics, and evolution of wild and cultivated potatoes. Bo-

tanical Review 80: 283-383.
Spooner, D. M., S. Jansky, F. Rodríguez, P. Simon, M. 

Ames, D. Fajardo, and R. O. Castillo. 2019. Taxonomy 

of wild potatoes in northern South America (Solanum 

section Petota). Systematic Botany Monographs 108: 

Spooner, D. M., K. McLean, G. Ramsay, R. Waugh, 

and G. J. Bryan.  2005.  A single domestication for po-

tato based on multilocus ALFP genotyping.  Proceed-

ings of the National Academy of Sciences 102: 14694-

Spooner, D. M., H. Ruess, M. Iorizzo, D. Senalik, and 

P. Simon. 2017. Entire plastid phylogeny of the carrot 

genus (Daucus, Apiaceae): Concordance with nuclear 

data and mitochondrial and nuclear DNA insertions to 

the plastid. American Journal of Botany 104: 296-312.

Spooner, D. M., R. G. van den Berg, and J. T. Miller. 

2001.  Species and series boundaries of Solanum series 

Longipedicellata (Solanaceae) and phenetically simi-

lar species in ser. Demissa and ser. Tuberosa: implica-

tions for a practical taxonomy of sect. Petota. Ameri-

can Journal of Botany 88: 113-130.
Spooner, D. M., R. G. van den Berg, A. Rodríguez, J. 

Bamberg, R. J. Hijmans, and S. I. Lara-Cabrera. 2004. 

Wild potatoes (Solanum section Petota) of North and 

Central America. Systematic Botany Monographs 68: 


-Tod F. Stuessy, Herbarium and Department 

of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biol-

ogy, The Ohio State University, Columbus, and 

the Department of Botany and Biodiversity 

Research, University of Vienna, Austria

Daniel J. Crawford, Department of Ecology 

and Evolutionary Biology and the Biodiversity 

Institute, University of Kansas, Lawrence

 Gregory J. Anderson, Department of Ecology 

and Evolutionary Biology, University of Con-

necticut, Storrs.

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Eagle Hill is right on the coast of Eastern 

Maine, between Acadia National Park and 

Petit Manan National Wildlife Refuge (https:// We would like 

to share our Summer Field Seminar Calendar 


weeklong/calendar-weeklong.shtml) and 

invite you to explore the many options offered.

Selected Highlights

• July 2-8   - Grasses and Sedges as a 

Way to Read the Landscape  - Brett 

Engstrom and Jerry Jenkins

• July 9-15 - Wetland Identification, 

Delineation, and Ecology - Rick Van 

de Poll and Joseph Homer

• July 9-15 - Grass Identification: An 

In-depth Review - Dennis Magee

• July 23-29 - Ericaceous Heaths and 

the Ericaceae  - Paul Manos and José 


• Jul 30-Aug 5 - Field Botany of the 

Maine Coast: Learning to Network 

with the iNaturalist Community   - 

Robert Wernerehl

• Aug 6-12 - Submersed and Emergent 

Aquatic Flowering Plant  - C. Barre 


• Aug 27-Sept 2 - Identification of 

Trees and Woody Plants of the 

Northern Forest: A Wholistic Ap-

proach - Erika Mitchell



For general information, the registration form, 

seminar flyers, and a complete calendar, see:


If you have any questions about the content of 

the seminar, please reach out to the seminar 

instructor(s), whose contact info can be 

found on the seminar flyer. If a seminar you 

are interested in is full, and you would like 

to be put on the waitlist, please fill out the 

application form.

If you have any questions about registering 

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Atlas of Perfumed Botany
Elderflora: A Modern History of Ancient Trees.  
In the Name of Plants: From Attenborough to Washington, the People behind Plant Names.  
Learn to Love Those Latin Names: a straightforward guide to botanical nomenclature 
Rescue and Revival: New York Botanical Garden 1989-2018
A Systematic Vademecum to the Vascular Plants of Saba
Trees: from Root to Leaf

Atlas of Perfumed  


Jean-Claude Ellena (Karin 

Doering-Froger, illustrator; Erik 

Butler, translator)

2022. ISBN: 978-0-262046732 

US$29.95 (Hardcover); 165 pp. 

MIT Press, Cambridge MA, 

London, England

A new volume by Jean-Claude Ellena, a 

superstar in the world of perfumery for 

luxury brands Hermès and Bulgari, presents 

a memoir of his journeys to sources where 

some of his most valued perfume plants are 

harvested and processed. 

Released in French 

in 2020, this English language translation 

presents a memoir of his travels, often to 

fragile conflict areas not in the news. His 

personal encounters provide insight into the 

plant ingredients that go into making perfume. 

He tracks raw materials, reveals the history of 

their use in perfumes, and tells stories about 

how he was introduced to these plants. 

Ellena, the “nose” of the luxury brand Hermès 

for 14 years, has been the Creative Director of 

Fragrance at the perfume house Le Couvent 

since 2019; he was designated Hermès’ first 

“perfumeur exclusive” in 2004. He works 

near Grasse, France, and designs scents at his 

studio in Cabris. This Atlas follows his 2011 

book, Perfume: The Alchemy of Scent.

These brief accounts about key botanicals 

used in perfumery could be viewed as 

encyclopedia entries, presenting well-written 

highlights. Comprising just one to two pages, 

the essays are not comprehensive, but instead 

memorable notes about each species related 


his personal experiences, advancing insight 

into a renowned perfumer’s world


Author and translator both must be 

congratulated for the superb writing style, 

told in a personal, conversational manner, 

e.g., perfumers as sorcerers (p. 35); “olfactory 

cathedral” (p. 36); “while landscape tells a 

story, scent makes a proclamation” (p. 60). 

Ellena’s references include some titles perhaps 

not readily accessible to U.S. readers, including 

one published in French, by Michael Edwards, 

an author who identifies as a poet, and whose 

six books about perfume are all out of print. 
The title term “Atlas,” a book of maps, was 

puzzling, because no maps are included. 

However, further search for information about 

illustrator Karin Doering-Froger, a faculty 

member at the Atelier de Sèvres, led to a book 

series she illustrated, united as ‘Imaginary 

Cartographies’, meeting a broad definition of 

the term “Atlas”: “a bound volume of charts, 

plates, or tables illustrating any subject.” These 

include Atlas der Verlorenen Städte, Atlas des 

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Paradis Perdus (with Gilles Lapouge, to whom 

the author dedicates this book, “in fond 

memory of our meeting and the resulting 

project”),  Atlas des Terres Sauvages, Atlas 

des Contrées Rêves, and Atlas des Fortunes 

du Mer. Under that loose definition, these 

illustrations, while attractive and creative, 

do not always provide a road map to the 

plant named. Some, with more literal minds, 

might be disappointed that they provide an 

impressionistic view of a species instead, 

reminiscent of the work of Arts and Crafts era 

British textile designer William Morris, rather 

than scientific botanical illustrations.  

Chapters are arranged thematically by 

part used: Woods and barks (


cinnamon, red cedar, oakmoss)

; leaves 


labdanum, absinthe and artemisia, basil and 

tarragon, rose geranium, patchouli, violet


flowers (

jasmine, lavender, mimosa, narcissus, 

bitter or bigarade orange, tea olive, Rose, 

tuberose, ylang-ylang


fruits (bergamot, 

black currant buds, lemon, sweet orange); 

gums and resins (

benzoin, galbanum, 

myrrh, frankincense

); seeds (


green cardamom, carrot, nutmeg and mace, 

peppers, tonka, vanilla

); and roots (


angelica, iris, vetiver


Ellena views aspects of the industry through 

an economic lens, e.g., Reunion is the 

leading producer of rose geranium; whereas 

“NY buyers seek lowest price, French 

Parisians follow their noses” (p. 41); decries 

performance vs. economy – amount yielded 

(p. 53).  Islam prohibits selling scents too 

dear, and exorbitant prices are prohibited, 

nor are buyers allowed to haggle; instead, 

oil-based pure Attars are prepared without 

alcohol, which is unobtainable (p. 85). Page 

80 mentions scent extraction by enfleurage, 

but omits the innovative use of sesame seeds, 

whereby rose petals are spread over trays 

coated with a layer of fat, or alternatively, a 

bed of sesame seeds that become saturated 

with rose essential oils by diffusion (Groom, 

1992; Bedigian, 2011; Sharifi-Rad et al., 2017). 

Depleted petals are replaced repeatedly with 

fresh ones; those augmented sesame seeds are 

crushed with mortar and pestle to obtain high-

quality concentrates, forming rose absolute.
Significant in the entry about benzoin (p. 108) 

is its attention to Papier d’Arménie™, a room 

deodorizer made of sheets of paper coated 

with the dried sap of styrax trees sourced 

from Laos. While on a 19th-century trip to 

Armenia, chemist Auguste Ponsot discovered 

the resin’s disinfecting qualities (Grigoryan, 

2010) and determined to introduce it to 

France. Renowned since ancient times for its 

antiseptic, healing, and expectorant properties, 

benzoin balm has been traditionally applied 

externally to treat asthma, coughs, and 

hoarseness. Ponsot adapted a technique, 

assisted by pharmacist Henri Rivier, whereby 

benzoin resin was dissolved in alcohol, then 

infused onto a blotting paper support to 

deliver a lasting fragrance. Papier d’Arménie 

became a huge success with the emerging 

importance of hygiene circa 1888-1889 and 

has been steadily produced in Montrouge, 

France since 1885. A Papier d’Arménie booklet 

contains detachable strips of brown perfumed 

paper. Typically, a strip is torn from the 

booklet, folded accordion-style, and placed 

on a heat-resistant support. The strip is lit 

and blown on gently, until the paper begins to 

glow, to slowly release scent. Environmentally 

friendly,  Papier d’Arménie  does not use 

any propellants and causes no harm to the 

ozone layer. The absorbent paper used to 

manufacture  Papier d’Arménie  is certified 

by the Forest Stewardship Council, an 

independent international organization to 

promote the responsible management of the 

world's forests. 

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MIT Press is commended for preparing 

a carefully edited volume; I spotted just 

one typographical error: spelling the Latin 

binomial as Rose damascene (p. 81). This 

would be an excellent addition to public and 

school libraries, for a joyful respite, and as 

a vastly informative book. Readers seeking 

academic, in-depth coverage about the 

chemical constituents of perfume plants as 

well as their ethnobotany may explore the 

superb review by Sharifi-Rad et al. (2017).


Bedigian, D. 2011. Introduction. History of the cultiva-

tion and use of sesame. In: D. Bedigian [ed.], Sesame: 

the genus Sesamum. Medicinal and Aromatic Plants - 

Industrial Profiles series, 1-31. CRC Press, Taylor & 

Francis Group, Boca Raton, FL. 
Grigoryan, S. 2010. Papier d’Arménie: French phar-

macists transform traditional Armenian disinfec-

tant into brand name room freshener. The Armenian 

Mirror-Spectator  January 9. https://mirrorspectator.



Groom, N. 1992. The Perfume Handbook. Chapman & 

Hall, London.     
Sharifi-Rad, J., A. Sureda, G. C. Tenore, M. Daglia, M. 

Sharifi-Rad, M. Valussi, R. Tundis, et al. 2017. Biolog-

ical activities of essential oils: from plant chemoecol-

ogy to traditional healing systems. Molecules 22: 70.

–Dorothea Bedigian, Research Associate, Mis-

souri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri, 


Elderflora: A Modern  

History of Ancient Trees

Jared Farmer

2022.  ISBN 9780465097845 

(hardback), 9780465097852 


US$35.00; 432 pp.  

Basic Books, Hachette Book 

Group, New York

Farmer, an environmental historian at 

the University of Pennsylvania, presents a 

complex interweaving of culture, history, and 

biology in relating the interactions between 

humans and trees. He succinctly summarizes 

this 400+-page volume in two sentences on 

the first page of the introduction.  “People 

cherish big trees, old trees, and especially big 

old trees. Except for when they don’t.” 
Farmer documents the importance of 

ancient trees through the myths and writings 

associated with most religions and civilizations 

throughout history, and he describes the 

impact of science and capitalism on changing 

human values regarding old growth forests. 

Originally age and size were relational—for 

instance, oldest, older than, and bigger than—

and they were often related to a particular 

place. For instance, the “Oak of Mamre” 

(“Abraham’s Oak”) was revered by the three 

Abrahamic religions as growing since creation, 

in multiple Palestinian locations, for over 4000 

years. Only in 1706 did John Evelyn’s concept 

of “solar revolutions, or circles” inscribed in 

the trunk of a tree give rise to the concept of 

“cambial age” allowing a direct quantification 

of tree age. From that point on, with colonial 

expansion well underway, it was now possible 

to evaluate local myths and compare rival 

claims about ancient and giant trees from 

around the world.  
Through eight chapters, based on common 

themes, Farmer relates the stories of some 

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20 notable elderflora species, discussing 

their biological, geographical, historical, and 

cultural details.  Appropriately, he begins with 

some of the most familiar venerable species, 

long-lived trees that were objects of reverence 

in local cultures. These include: Cedar of 

Lebanon, Olive, Ginkgo, Pipal (Ficus religiosa), 

and Baobab. Farmer’s story of Cedar begins 

with “The Epic of Gilgamesh,” originally an 

oral poem like the Iliad and the Odyssey, which 

serves as a parable for the entire book. The 

king wants to make a monument to himself at 

the summit of the Cedar Mountains, the home 

of the gods. The trees are thick and fragrant 

with resin, but to achieve the king’s goal, the 

forest is laid waste to provide the needed 

timber. The gods are angry; Gilgamesh is 

punished; but no trees are left. Similar stories 

are repeated for many of the other elderflora: 

the Montezuma Cypress (Taxodium)  in 

Mexico, the Kauri (Agathis) in New Zealand, 

the Alerce (Fitzroya) in Chile, the redwoods 

and sequoias of California, and Japanese and 

Taiwanese cedars. In each location forests of 

giant trees are first venerated, then subject to 

colonial exploitation and eventual destruction. 

In each case, Farmer explains the ecological 

adaptations, and limitations, that promote old, 

and often large, growth for a particular species 

and then provides historical details of the 

exploitation that not only decreased potential 

seed stock but modified the environment, 

making regeneration difficult or impossible in 

the original native range.  
Ironically, as European colonial empires 

expanded abroad, concerns about the loss 

of native tree species and sustainability in 

England, France, and Germany gave rise to 

the development of scientific silviculture and 

horticulture. Plantation forestry in France, 

and especially Germany, promoted managed 

plantings of non-native species, optimized 

for fast growth and sustained-yield rotations. 

At the same time, “remarkable trees” were set 

aside as “monuments of nature.” The growth 

drill (Zuwachsbohrer) designed in Dresden 

became an essential tool for German forest 

engineers.  (According to Farmer, Americans 

know this tool as a Swedish increment borer 

because a Swedish manufacturer captured 

the American market.) In England, private 

gardens and arboreta graced the properties 

of private landowners, including the crown, 

displaying exotic trees imported from around 

the world.
Chapter 6, “The Oldest Known,” focuses 

primarily on Bristlecone Pine, its role in the 

development of the field of dendrochronology, 

and the use of the increment borer in tree ring 

analysis. Farmer provides a brief biographical 

background to Andrew Douglas and Edmund 

Schulman emphasizing their complex 

mentor/mentee relationship which led to the 

establishment of the renowned University of 

Arizona Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research 

(LTRR) and ultimately identification of 

the “Methuselah” tree. Successive LTRR 

researchers, and contemporary forest service 

policy makers, fill out this intriguing chapter. 

Farmer summarizes: “Whereas Edmund 

Schulman drove up the mountain without 

local prohibitions or premodern fears about 

felling elderflora, visitors in his tracks bring 

global anxieties” (p. 266).
In the penultimate chapter, Farmer comes 

back around to what it means to be the oldest 

and how to become oldest. “In a biosphere 

dominated by Homo sapiens, a fire-starting 

and a tree-felling species, elderflora achieve 

longest life by being as remote as possible 

from the depredations of people, or as close 

as possible to their care … preadapted to long 

living and also fortunate in time and place (p. 

268).” Life-extending sites include: adjacence 

to shrines or temples (Yew or Ginkgo); 

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submarginal sites (Bristlecones and Pinyons); 

productive environments dominated by 

old growth (Mexican and Bald Cypress); 

productive environments where dominant 

young growth overshadows subdominant 

old growth (black gum); or in situ semi-

domestication (Brazil nut in the Amazon).  A 

few, like the Ginkgo, are also monotypic living 

fossils (Metasequoia and Wollemia). The final 

considerations in this chapter explain clonal 

organisms, such as the so-called Huon pine of 

Tasmania and the clonal aspens, like “Pando,” 

in North America. These require a new 

definition of “an organism.”
The final chapter, “Time to Mourn,” adds the 

environmental factor of climate change to 

longevity of many of the elderflora species 

discussed in the text. In the end, Farmer is 

hopeful: “They [elderflora] have a firmer grasp 

on earthly time than Homo sapiens.” (p. 347).
In the “Prologue: WPN-114,” Farmer recalls 

that as a teenager he climbed Wheeler Peak 

in Great Basin National Park and signed the 

notebook at the summit. Twenty years later, 

he returned to the park while researching 

this book, but his interest was now in the 

Bristlecone pines. “Prior to drafting a 

manuscript on ancient trees, I wanted to pay 

respects” (p. 1). But, he didn’t go searching for 

“the stump”; he was a professional historian 

and “the stump” was simply a “cultural fetish.” 

Nevertheless, a year later, while writing the 

manuscript, he returned to Wheeler Peak to 

see and touch the remains of WPN-114. My 

marginal annotation on page 2 is, “Wasn’t this 

Currey’s stump?”  
Three hundred fifty pages later, I had my answer 

in the Epilogue. Here is the most complete 

account I have read about the circumstances 

surrounding the felling, and disposition, of 

WPN-114, the “Promethius” tree, by Graduate 

Student Donald Currey in 1964. With a ring 

count of 4844, it remains the oldest living 

tree yet discovered.  Unfortunately, with all of 

his increment borers now broken, Curry had 

permission to cut down the tree to make this 

determination from the cut stump.
I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of reading 

this book, both because of the author’s 

breadth of treatment and his command of 

the English language. It is a scholarly treatise 

of environmental history with a detailed 

bibliography of relevant books and articles 

for every main topic of each chapter as well as 

extensive end notes organized by chapter. He 

includes a taxonomic index.  This was quite 

a challenge not only because of historical 

taxonomic revisions but also because it 

includes multiple translations of endemic 

ethnic and common names for each the species 

examined.  The main index is complete, with 

bold font for entries of names included in the 

taxonomic Index.  
Elderflora would be a good book for an upper-

division undergraduate/graduate reading 

seminar.  I would also consider it for my 

(former) introductory honors biology course 

where some of my best students came from 

economics, English, and history, as well as 

biology and chemistry. It would also be a 

good read for any sophisticated reader with 

an interest in trees.


Evelyn, J.  1706.  Sylva, or a Discourse of Forest Trees, 

and the Propagation of Timber in His Majesty’s Domin-

ions. 4th ed.  Printed for Robert Scott.  In: Book III, 

Dendrologia; Chapter III, Of the Age, Stature, and 

Felling of Trees, p. 216.

-Marshall D. Sundberg, Roe R. Cross Professor 

of Biology, Emeritus.  Emporia State Universi-

ty, Kansas; email: marshalldsundberg@gmail.


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In the Name of Plants: 

From Attenborough to 

Washington, the People 

behind Plant Names

Sandra Knapp

2022; ISBN 13: 978-0-226-

82430-7 (cloth) ISBN 13: 978-0-

226-82431-4 (e-book) 

US$25.00, 192 pp.

The University of Chicago Press

During the pandemic I had the opportunity to 

watch and listen to Sandy on a near-monthly 

basis in her Presidential role of welcoming 

attendees to streamed Linnean Society 

lectures and presentations.  Somewhere in this 

introduction, she would usually say, “Did you 

know….”  This was the signal that we were in 

for some botanical treat: an anecdote, an event, 

or some personal stories about the topic or 

presenter we were about to enjoy.  This small, 

handsomely illustrated book is peppered 

with “did you knows” about 30 vascular 

plant genera, named after individuals, with a 

chapter devoted to each. Sandy has targeted a 

very broad audience—anyone with an interest 

in plants—and she has hit the mark.
The chapters are arranged alphabetically 

by genus, beginning with Adansonia and 

moving through Wuacanthus.  In every 

chapter, Knapp includes a clearly written 

explanation of some major botanical concept 

or characteristic of doing botany associated 

with that genus and goes on to provide some 

relevant history leading to the name. It may be 

to incorporate a mini-biography of the person 

being honored or some historical incidents 

associated with the discovery of the plant or 

the naming process.  Virtually every chapter 

included some interesting tidbits I did not 

know but was happy to learn.  

She begins the first chapter with an 

introduction to Willi Hennig’s concept of 

cladistics, where lineages are defined by 

shared derived characters, not simply by 

similarities.  Michael Adenson, a student of 

Bernard de Jussieu, was the first European to 

see and describe the Baobab in nature, and 

for this Linnaeus named the genus after him.  

Unlike many of his contemporaries, Adenson 

believed that many characters should be used 

in classification, but that some characters are 

better than others even in natural families.  

He saw only the African species, Adensonia 

digitata, which had peculiar flowers with the 

filaments of stamens fused to form a short 

tube through which the style and stigma of 

the pistil protruded.  Later it was discovered 

that two of the six Madagascar species shared 

this character, but the staminal tubes of the 

other three island species were much longer 

and more similar to those of the Australian 

species.  It seemed like two natural groupings.  

Today, applying molecular evidence, we 

know that the Madagascar species are most 

closely related to each other with independent 

evolution of the shorter tube in the originally 

described African species.  
The concepts of polyphyly and monophyly 

and lumping and splitting are illustrated 

in several additional genera. A common 

character relates to red flower coloration, 

typically due to anthocyanin pigments. 

However, in Bougainvillia and Esterhuysenia 

(both Caryophyllales), the red/pink is due to 

betalains, and in Streletsia and Takhtajania it is 

bilirubins. But what about personal histories? 

Louis Antoine Compte de Bougainville had 

quite a career. Aide-de-camp to General 

Montcalm during the French and Indian 

War, he later led a French circumnavitation 

for which he convinced the king to pay 

for a professional naturalist, Philibert de 

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Commerson, to accompany the expedition 

(later copied by other European monarchs). 

It was not until they arrived in Tahiti that 

Commerson’s cabin boy assistant, Jean 

Baret, was discovered to be a woman (and 

Commerson’s lover). The two had collected 

Bougainvillea in Brazil, and Baret apparently 

suggested naming it after Bougainville, but the 

deed was not done until later when Antoine 

de Jussieu formalized the name.  
Esterhuysenia’s namesake is Elsie Esterhuysen, 

a South African botanist who in the 1930s was 

kept from collecting because “in those days 

the very prospect of a female doing botanical 

survey work in the remoter parts of the South 

African bush was unthinkable!”  Luckily, she 

connected with Louisa Bolus, who managed 

the Bolus Herbarium (for her husband) 

in Cape Town and worked through the 

herbarium for most of her career. According 

to Knapp, Bolus “…holds the record for 

being the woman who has described the 

most plant species ever.” She recognized that 

some of “Mesembryanthemum” collections 

made by Esterhuysen were distinct and 

named them Esterhuysenia in the original 

description. Knapp says Esterhuysen’s nearly 

40,000 collected specimens ranks her as “the 

most prolific collector for the Cape floristic 

region, and in the top three for South Africa 

Strelitzia, another genus native to South 

Africa, was first collected by Francis Masson, 

“Kew’s first plant hunter,” in 1773.  Living 

plants were sent back to England where the 

one in Joseph Banks’ garden bloomed and was 

first illustrated in 1777. Ten years later Banks 

commissioned another illustration of his plant 

by botanical illustrator James Sowerby, from 

which an engraving was made to produce 

colored prints that Banks could distribute. 

The name on the print was Strelitzia reginae

“unusually making this privately circulated 

illustration the place of publication of the 

generic name!” Banks named the plant in 

honor of Queen Charlotte (of Mecklenberg-

Strelitz), wife of George III, “…herself a keen 

botanist and great supporter of the gardens at 

Armen Takhtajan, the namesake of the 

monotypic red-flowered Takhtajania 

perrieri, was born in the disputed region 

between Armenia and Azerbaijan.  In 2021 

the region gained independence as Artsakh, 

and Takhtajan and a sprig of Tahtajania are 

commemorated on one of their first postage 

stamps. A member of the Winteraceae, and 

considered a ‘living fossil,’ Knapp uses its 

distribution to describe plate tectonics and its 

role in explaining vicariance biogeography. 

Red pigmentation has a role in each of the 

four previous examples.
The “winning” chapter for most botanical 

concepts introduced goes to Rafflesia, which 

includes the world’s largest flower, R. arnoldii

From specimens sent back by Thomas Raffles, 

Robert Brown was able to determine that 

Rafflesia was unisexual (staminate). A decade 

later a pistillate plant was discovered. He also 

realized that the plant is a parasite on the roots 

of its host plant, the woody vine Tetrastigma 

rafflesia. Knapp goes on to explain that 

technically Raphlisia is a holoparasite and its 

host is obligate. This relationship leads to the 

concept of horizontal gene transfer and the 

genomes of mitochondria and chloroplasts. 

Many of Raphlisia’s nuclear genes, and a 

third of its mitochondrial genes, originated in 

Some of the other interesting tidbits I found 

most interesting were in the chapters Victoria

Megacorax, Vickia, and Gaga.  Victoria regia 

was first described in letters and sketches 

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from explorer Robert Schomburgk from 

southern British Guyana in 1837. The name 

went viral in the British botanical press for 

10 years before it was realized that another 

giant water lily growing in Brazil was already 

described by a German as Euryale amazonica

A bit of national pride was involved with 

German, French, and British botanists all 

having their champions in the naming war. 

Final resolution came in the mid 20th century. 

Euryale  is a monotypic Indian genus, most 

closely related to Victoria, so the queen’s genus 

can be retained, but amazonica  has priority 

over regia.  
“The name Megacorax does not immediately 

call to mind an individual, but it is indeed 

named for a person.” Megacorax is Greek 

for great raven, honoring Peter Raven. It is a 

monotypic member of the Onagraceae (the 

focus of much of Peter’s botanical work) 

and was immediately recognized as unique 

when it was collected. Found so far in just 

two small populations, it is an appropriate 

species to recognize Raven’s conservation 

efforts and commitment to link science and 

sustainability. Here Knapp notes that today 

about a quarter of new species are described 

based on herbarium collections made 50 or 

more years ago—hence the excitement over 

this field discovery.   
The classic example of the role of herbaria in 

naming new species is another monotypic 

genus, Vickia, named after the synantherologist 

Vicki Funk (“Synantherologist” is one 

who studies plants with fused anthers [the 

composites]; this was new to me). The species 

was first described as Gochnatia rotundifolia 

in the 1800s. Recent work on the family 

demonstrated that genera in subfamily 

Gochnatioideae were not monophyletic 

and “Gochnatia in particular was a mess.”  

Gochnatia rotundifolia, which has only been 

collected 23 times, all from an area around 

Sao Paulo, now Brazil’s largest city. The most 

recent collection was in 1965 and, despite 

extensive searching, it has not been seen since. 

“It is ironic in a way that the genus named 

for Vicki, a person so full of life, is probably 

already extinct.”
Finally, there is Gaga—yes, named after 

the innovative and showy pop diva. Knapp 

quotes the naming taxonomists' expansive 

justification for their choice (you’ll have to 

get the book to read it), but the last sentence 

includes a unique “GAGA” sequence in the 

matK gene. Gaga is a fern genus, so Knapp 

uses the opportunity to provide a lot of fern 

biology, including alternation of generations 

and asexual apogamy. About half of the 18 

species of Gaga are apogamous. I was most 

surprised by the last sentence in the chapter, 

which suggests the pop star has learned quite a 

bit about her namesake genus. In a 2014 online 

Reddit session, she was asked about having a 

fern genus named after her. Lady Gaga replied 

“It’s pretty cool, especially since it’s [an]asexual 

fern; there are 19 species contained within the 

genus. All sexless, judgeless. How cool. How I 

wish to be.”
Every chapter was a delightful, and 

educational, read, and it’s written at a level 

both accessible to high school students and 

informative to professional and academic 

botanists.  Well done!
-Marshall D. Sundberg, Roe R. Cross Professor 

of Biology, Emeritus. Emporia State University, 

Kansas; email:

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PSB 69 (1) 2023


Learn to Love Those Latin 

Names: a Straightforward 

Guide to Botanical  


Ann Willyard

2022. ISBN 979-8417817434.

US$12.95 (Paperback), 73 pp. 

Independently published

The scientific naming process can be 

intimidating to beginners, amateurs, or casual 

enthusiasts, yet an understanding of these 

names can lend a greater context for all of these 

individuals to understand the breadth and 

diversity of plants. “Learn to Love Those Latin 

Names: A Straightforward Guide to Botanical 

Nomenclature” by Ann Willyard guides 

readers through the entire process of naming 

plants. Willyard is an associate professor 

at Hendrix College in Arkansas, where she 

teaches a wide variety of courses in botany and 

plant systematics, with a research focus on the 

phylogeography of ponderosa pine. This book 

is divided into 20 very brief chapters (just a 

handful of pages each) touching on many 

aspects of botanical nomenclature, from why, 

to what, how, who, and how. 
The first three chapters cover information 

about common versus scientific names, for 

instance detailing why we should learn names 

and the difficulties of common names versus 

the benefits of using scientific names. Each 

of these points is demonstrated with figures, 

photographs, and useful examples. Chapters 

4 through 11 detail the different components 

of scientific names, from the binomial 

nomenclature, to epithets, infraspecific ranks, 

authors, pronunciations, and interesting 

cases, like hybrids. The author then dives into 

the history of botanical nomenclature and 

places taxonomy into an evolutionary context 

and levels of organization above the species 

in Chapters 12 through 15. Chapters 16 and 

17 discuss the naming of new species and the 

changing of scientific names. Finally, the book 

addresses interesting cases, like cultivated 

plants and weeds in Chapters 18 and 19, 

ending with a brief summary on the number 

and breakdown of vascular plants. The back 

of the book also includes additional resources 

(books and websites) as well as a glossary of 

useful terms.
This short guide (73 pages) does an excellent 

job of walking readers through the important 

components of botanical nomenclature. 

Willyard writes in a way that is very clear 

and informative. The figures, pictures, and 

examples illustrate the information beautifully 

and aid the reader’s comprehension. The 

modern take on additional resources (mostly 

websites) is also very useful for accessing up- 

to-date tools, especially in regard to plants 

found in North America.
This book presents information in a very 

accessible way and is thus perfect for those 

who are interested in plants and want to 

understand more. This is also a great resource 

for anyone teaching plant taxonomy or plant 

systematics, as Willyard explains many very 

useful examples that can be incorporated 

into course materials. Overall, this book is a 

great way to understand and contextualize 

botanical nomenclature both in the broader 

context of systematics and in emphasizing 

concepts using specific and helpful examples.
-Nora Mitchell, Department of Biology, Uni-

versity of Wisconsin – Eau Claire, Eau Claire, 

Wisconsin, USA

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PSB 69 (1) 2023


Rescue and Revival: New 

York Botanical Garden 


Gregory Long

2022; ISBN: 978-1-952620-37-9

US $28.00 (Cloth). 208 pp.

Library of American Landscape 

History, Amherst, MA

The subtle artistry woven through Mr. Gregory 

Long’s career memoir, Rescue and Revival: 

New York Botanical Garden 1989-2018, is its 

defining feature. Though Long’s language is 

expressive, and his stories filled with brilliant 

detail, the artistry to which I refer is that of 

observing the master at work, commanding 

his medium with a familiarity and deftness 

that is inseparable from the final piece. In this 

case, the masterwork is the reimagining and 

modernization of a New York City cultural 

institution, and the medium is the social 

fabric into which Long interlaces the Garden’s 

past, present, and near future using the warm 

colors of human relationships and aspirations. 

Without this not-quite-visible tapestry 

supporting the entire endeavor, there would 

not be the more apparent features for which 

the Garden is treasured: Haupt Conservatory, 

Edible Academy, Thain Family Forest, and so 

much more.
Long bounds his memoir by the years he 

spent as President and CEO of the New York 

Botanical Garden (NYBG) and describes in 

great detail the elements of his position as 

they relate to the task for which he was hired, 

“to breathe new life and meaning into an 

organization that in some important respects 

had lost its way and was misunderstood by 

most of the people of New York City.” It also 

provides a valuable addition to the landscape 

history of NYBG, the sociopolitical history of 

the city, and America’s ongoing conversation 

about civic responsibility. Yet this beautiful 

little book—with 50 glossy photographs of 

the people, plants, and architecture of NYBG, 

a helpful list of further reading, and an 

appendix titled “Our Planning Process”—is 

largely intended as practical guidance. Long’s 

message is primarily directed toward “people 

who care … volunteers, philanthropists, and 

professionals of all stripes” in hopes that 

“they will benefit not only from the lessons 

embedded in these chapters but also from the 

enthusiasm for a seemingly impossible task 

accomplished against all odds.”
Though I am certainly one who cares about 

great places such as NYBG, I also fit another 

demographic that is present throughout 

Long’s memoir but only indirectly addressed: 

the researchers and conservation scientists 

who daily utilize herbariums, arboretums, 

botanical gardens, and specialized libraries 

to study the plants of the world. Most of us 

are not the staff scientists who contributed 

to Long’s planning process but are deeply 

appreciative users of the materials and 

publications that his organization produces 

and disseminates. A hidden strength of Rescue 

and Revival is the appreciation it generates 

for the donors, managers, and operations 

staff who orchestrate the enormous financial 

resources and visionary management tasks 

that complement the work of scientists 

and educators and, in fact, fuel our career 

aspirations by demonstrating the reach of 

botanical art and science. Long gracefully 

achieves his purpose by writing not so 

much as a strategist but as a wholehearted 

participant. “[W]e were all fairly young and 

wildly determined,” he recalls, and through 

friendships and perseverance, galas and golf 

cart tours, “[w]e restored the spirit and dignity 

of the place.”
Rescue and Revival is arranged chronologically 

and somewhat thematically. The threads 

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PSB 69 (1) 2023


of institutional planning from which Long 

weaves a backdrop for the infrastructural and 

horticultural changes needed to modernize 

NYBG are initially presented in a colorful 

jumble that does not resemble a practical 

handbook. But, through stories about events 

such as hiring head of security Bob Heinisch 

to teach visitors how to behave, crossing a 

raging river in Belize with ethnobotanist 

Michael Balick, and arranging a symposium 

with Tom Lovejoy and E.O. Wilson to try to 

prevent the secession of the Cary Arboretum 

(now Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies), we 

gain a sense of Long’s priorities and challenges. 
By the middle of the book, Long’s experiences 

begin to coalesce into a professional journey 

characterized by relationship-building, 

revisioning of organizational identity, and 

a deep historical sensitivity. It becomes 

clear that friendships with figures such 

as philanthropist Enid Annenberg Haupt 

and Royal Horticultural Society leaders 

Robin Herbert and Philip Browse, festivities 

featuring the talents of opera diva Jessye 

Norman and actress Sigourney Weaver, and 

meetings with Governor George Pataki and 

Congressman Ritchie Torres are not incidental 

to Long’s success. His social grace and ability 

to understand his donors’ values and interests 

is central to the process of democratizing a 

formerly elite cultural institution that remains 

proud of its history and influence. Thus, the 

appeal of NYBG could be broadened while its 

founding mission—“to study the plants of the 

world and to share our knowledge with the 

public”—remained intact.
The image of strategic planning that Long 

ultimately evokes is not so much a series of 

steps or a procedure to imitate but rather, a 

thoughtful and inspiring reflection placed 

beautifully into an historical context. Rescue 

and Revival links America’s Gilded Age to the 

present and provides a glimpse of what civic 

philanthropy can do. It describes how public-

private partnerships function at their best and 

highlights the importance of horticulture to 

urban landscapes. It suggests that motivated 

curators and directors can transform their own 

organizations through energized fundraising 

and programmatic change. In the book’s final 

chapter, Long reviews his accomplishments 

and, importantly, explains why an outgoing 

leader might want to leave the final phase of 

a strategic plan for his successor to complete. 
Long’s memoir uniquely achieves its explicit 

purpose of incorporating practical insights 

into the narrative of his journey at the helm of 

the New York Botanical Garden. For the reader 

who was hoping for a diagram or schematic, 

Long includes an appendix outlining the 

“exhilarating” bottom-up process that he 

invented with his mentors Vartar Gregorian 

and Mrs. Brooke Astor at the New York Public 

Library and later repeated at NYBG. The details 

of financial planning, renovation timelines, 

and personnel requirements, however, must 

be gleaned from the stories themselves. I 

highly suggest reading the material in the 

order presented, savoring Long’s artistry as 

he brings his intended image into focus. The 

reader can thus journey with him, imagining 

herself as likewise capable of integrating a 

fresh perspective into an existing fabric with 

poise and panache rather than disruption.
-Andrea G. Kornbluh

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PSB 69 (1) 2023


A Systematic Vadem-

ecum to the Vascular 

Plants of Saba

Franklin Axelrod 

2020. ISBN-13: 978-1-889878-


US$25.00 US (soft cover);  

122 pp.

Botanical Research Institute of 

Texas Press, Fort Worth, Texas 76107, USA

The book A Systematic Vademecum to the 

Vascular Plants of Saba by Franklin Axelrod, 

Curator of the University of Puerto Rico-Rio 

Piedras herbarium, is a welcome addition 

to floristic works of the Caribbean. A rocky 

volcanic island located between the British 

Virgin Islands and Saint Eustatius, Saba is 

politically part of the Netherlands and has 

around 2000 full-time inhabitants. A synoptic 

flora, the book includes two topographical 

maps, a list of villages, special collecting 

areas, descriptions of principal trails, and a 

detailed review of historical collections made 

on the island by various collectors (principally 

Urban, Boldingh, Stoffer, and Howard). The 

checklist itself is based on both a review by 

Axelrod of collections from Saba located at 

multiple herbaria (National Herbarium of 

the Netherlands, Gray Herbarium of Harvard 

University, and the New York Botanical 

Garden herbarium) and a recent set of 

collections of over 1000 specimens made by 

Dr. Axelrod over a six-year period (2013-

2019). Comprising only 13 square kilometers, 

the vascular flora is diverse with 772 species. 

Both native (554 species) and persistent 

introduced flora (218) are included in the 

The list is broken down by “Fern Allies,” 

“Ferns,” and “Vascular Plants.” One endemic 

species, the fern Amauropelta sabaensis F.S. 

Axelrod and A.R. Sm, is described and the 

impact of introduced invasive species is 

noted on the remaining native vegetation 

where the fern occurs. Each species in the 

Vademecum has a list of synonyms, the plant 

growth habit, geographic localities, altitude 

or altitude range, phenology, citation of 

specimens and herbarium codes, broader 

geographic distribution, and English names. 

An index of scientific names is also provided 

for all past and present names used for the 

Saba flora. For some families, there are three 

sections at the end that provide additional 

information: (1) taxa not recently collected 

(post 1965)  are noted if relevant, which may 

be useful for future studies of the Saba flora, 

(2) taxa collected only under cultivation, and 

(3) taxa of dubious status or occurrence.  For 

example, in the Fabaceae-Caesalpinioidea 

(Leguminosae-Caesalpinioidea), nine species 

are listed as currently occurring on Saba, 

including four native and five introduced. 

Three taxa have not been recently collected 

(three native), one introduced taxa is found 

under cultivation, and two taxa (both native) 

are of dubious status or occurrence. 
The  Vademecum will be very useful for 

botanical and ecological studies of Saba, 

adjacent Caribbean islands, or for the 

botanically oriented tourist. It is not a field 

guide, however, and another text will be 

needed to key out species. Axelrod provides 

a list of online sources for images of taxa 

that could be used in conjunction with the 

Vademecum to assist with identification. 
-John B. Pascarella, Department of Biologi-

cal Sciences, Sam Houston State University, 

Huntsville, Texas USA 77381; email: jbpas-

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PSB 69 (1) 2023


Trees: from Root to Leaf

Paul Smith


ISBN 13: 978-0-226-82417-8 


US$49.95. 319 pp. 

University of Chicago Press, 


This is a beautiful art book, combined with 

informative yet succinct descriptions, that I 

will display in my library. This is exactly the 

kind of book I would expect from the Secretary 

General of Botanic Gardens Conservation 

International, a group dedicated to promoting 

public education about plants. There are 

nine chapters covering seeds, leaves, form, 

bark, wood, flowers, fruits, symbiosis, and 

economic importance.  Each chapter begins 

with an 8- to 10-page introductory essay that 

explains the basic botany of that character 

with interesting asides. For instance, the fire 

brigade soaking of the British Natural History 

Museum, following an incendiary bombing 

during the WWII Blitz of London, stimulated 

seeds on 170-year-old Nelumbo herbarium 

sheets to germinate. This leads to a description 

of 2000-year-old date seeds germinating 

from a 1963 archaeological excavation from 

Masada (Israel) and 32,000-year-old Siberian 

Silene seeds germinating after recovery from 

permafrost in 2011. 
Following the introduction in each chapter 

are eight well-illustrated sections highlighting 

specific themes related to the chapter topic.  Art 

and Architecture are common themes found 

in every chapter, with many full-page high-

quality photos and artistic illustrations.  The 

latter are particularly effective for illustrating 

size and scale, as well as geometric patterns.  

Some of the most striking photos are of the 

Durian fruit-inspired Esplanade Theatres and 

tree-inspired cooling towers in the Gardens 

by the Bay, both in Singapore, and the Palm-

inspired solar panel/misters of the Oasys 

public space in Abu Dhabi. The room-size 

plywood sculptures of Henrique Oliveira in 

the Galerie Vallois and Palais de Tokyo, both 

in Paris, are room-size sculptures resembling 

reinforced concrete posts and spans that 

suddenly transform into giant twisted vines 

or tangled thickets of branches.  
Another common theme, found in all but 

one chapter, is Economic Use. Food, shelter, 

and medicine are the most obvious uses, but 

Smith provides interesting additions to what 

is commonly known (or taught). For instance, 

the 750 species of figs are eaten by more 

different species of birds and mammals than 

any other genus of fruits. The book graphically 

illustrates the surprising dominance of 

bananas and watermelons, in terms of 

production, coming in at 117 and 100 million 

metric tons, respectively (25% and 13% 

more than apples, the third-most abundantly 

produced fruit).  Smith also explains the loss 

of genetic, and flavor, diversity with breeding 

and selection primarily for production and 

post-harvest characteristics.  
The third most common theme is special 

adaptations—those structural, ecological, 

and evolutionary modifications that are the 

natural “hooks” for capturing public interest 

(and for teachers to attract student interest!).  

Here again, excellent illustrations, graphics, 

and photos catch the eye and reinforce 

descriptions.  My favorites are a succession of 

four two-page graphics in the Form chapter.  

The first illustrates tree crown mapping and 

its use in landscape planting.  The second 

compares seven notable “elderflora” (Farmer, 

2022), which dramatically counter the 

common misconception that the biggest 

trees are the oldest trees.  The third illustrates 

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PSB 69 (1) 2023


12 common forms of Bonsai, and finally, 

a schematic comparison of root and shoot 

architecture of 12 species from different 

Who should have this book?  Everyone 

should have access to it.  Recommend it to 

your school public libraries! (Over most of 

my professional career I had forgotten and 

ignored the role of the public library in the 

community, but I now realize they appreciate 

purchase recommendations, and this is a great 

way to promote plants to the public.) Put it 

on your list of possible gifts for 2023.  The 

recipients will appreciate it.  It will go a long 

way in expanding “fur and feather” lovers into 

plant lovers and is an excellent prescription 

for curing plant blindness.  


Farmer, J. 2022. Elderflora: A modern history of an-

cient trees. Basic Books, New York.

-Marshall D. Sundberg, Professor Emeritus, 

Emporia State University.

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The Botanical Society of 

America is a membership soci-

ety whose mission  is to: pro-

mote botany, the field of basic 

science dealing with the study 

& inquiry into the form, func-

tion, development, diversity, 

reproduction, evolution, & uses 

of plants & their interactions 

within the biosphere.

ISSN 0032-0919  

Published 3 times a year by  

Botanical Society of America, Inc.  

4475 Castleman Avenue 

St. Louis, MO 63166-0299 


Periodicals postage is paid at  

St. Louis, MO & additional  

mailing offices.  


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: 

Mackenzie Taylor, Editor 

Department of Biology  

Creighton University 

2500 California Plaza 

Omaha, NE 68178 

Phone 402-280-2157

Plant Science Bulletin

                                                                           Spring 2023 Volume 69 Number 1

Plant Science Bulletin

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PSB 69 (1) 2023


The LI-600 performs rapid stomatal 
conductance measurements in am-
bient conditions, while the LI-6800 
measures carbon assimilation and 
other parameters under controlled 
conditions. Combined, the LI-600 
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esis than either instrument alone.

Pair the LI-600 Porometer/
Fluorometer with the LI-6800 
Portable Photosynthesis System

•  Rapidly survey a population, then 

focus on individual plants.

•  Improve accuracy and efficiency 

in data collection.

•  Add leaf angle and GPS data 

with the LI-600.

photosynthesis data

LI-COR is a registered trademark of LI-COR, Inc. in the United States 
and other countries. All other trademarks belong to their respective 
owners. For patent information, visit

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