botany

The Bamboo Expert Who Rediscovered a Missing Grass

Argentine grass expert Dr. Cleofé E. Calderón (1929-2007) collected species, published descriptions of rare and unusual plants, and led workshops that helped shape the field of bamboo taxonomy. Affiliated with the Smithsonian for much of her agrostology career, Dr. Calderón’s legacy can be traced in collections across the Institution, including publications, field books, and photos in Smithsonian Libraries and Archives.

Japanese Gardens

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The editorial note in this guidebook states that "The tourist library series aims at presenting concise, authoritative and unbiased information on various phases of Japanese culture, old and new."

This particular guidebook, one of a series published by the Japan Travel Bureau over several decades, invites the reader to explore the proud heritage of Japanese garden design. It reflects pride in the natural beauty of the islands, as well as the skill, sensitivity, and insight of the local gardeners.

Medicinal, Poisonous, and Edible Plants in Namibia

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This type of book, an illustrated flora, is an example of the core collection of worldwide floras the Botany and Horticulture Library has in its 100,000 plus volume collection. Floras are limited-print scientific texts used by botanists throughout the world for plant identification and to answer botanical nomenclature questions. This book describes 600 plants, their characteristics, and medicinal effects. Additionally, it shows 117 plants with black and white illustrations. The author is a scientist and as well as a botanical artist.

Plants of the Gods

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Plants of the Gods is a richly illustrated, encyclopedic study of psychoactive, i.e. hallucinogenic, plants. It explores the plants’ science – the characteristics and chemistry – as well as the history, culture, and significance of each. For millennia, societies around the world have valued the beneficial qualities of their native flora, and many have revered those plants recognized to have spiritual and psychic effects. This is fascinating ethnobiology, relating botany to religion, folklore, rituals, and art.

O Litoral do Brasil Meridional

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This botanical study of meridional Brazilian flora was conducted in 1929. Written in Portuguese, it is lavishly illustrated with black-and-white photographs. Frederico Carlos Hoehne (1882-1959) was a Brazilian botanist associated with the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro and the Institute of Botany in São Paulo. He surveyed the botany of Brazil’s interior and published numerous studies and articles on the local flora.

Pressed Flowers Album

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This beautiful book of pressed flowers was compiled by newlyweds Ralph L. and Hetty G. Dixon, who collected the majority of the specimens along the banks of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Towpath in Georgetown in the 1920s. Although the Dixons were amateurs, they took great care in the mounting and identification of their blooms, and it is thanks to this that most of the specimens remain intact. But the love story contained within these pages isn’t the only golden thing about the book; the locally collected flowers include golden corydalis and golden ragwort.

50th Annual Meeting of the Garden Club of America

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The Botany and Horticulture Library has in its collection Garden Club of America (GCA) booklets from 1924 to 2003, with information on the organization's annual meeting. This one celebrates the GCA's fiftieth anniversary in 1963. The book lists the meeting program and officers, and includes a short paragraph on each of the houses and gardens on the garden tours. In this book, two places listed on the tours are of particular interest: Cliveden, in Germantown, Pennsylvania, was built in 1763 by Benjamin Chew, and remained in the Chew family for seven generations.

The Lure of the Garden

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This is not a typical book on gardening methods, but rather a meditation on how each of us responds to a garden as a place, and on the importance of gardens to humans’ well-being. Chapter topics include the “social side of gardens” and "gardens of well-known people." Author Hildegarde Hawthorne was the granddaughter of Nathaniel Hawthorne and a prolific writer in her own right. The book is richly illustrated with drawings and black-and-white photographs. The last chapter speculates about America’s future gardens. Will we have stately gardens similar to those in England, Italy, and France?

Parcs et Jardins des Environs de Paris

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This beautifully illustrated pattern book, part of a five volume study of mid-19th century French architecture by artist and chromolithographer Victor Petit, includes fifty color lithographs of designs for gardens. The colorful, full-page illustrations provide designs for the placement of paths, flowerbeds, waterways, and garden structures for properties ranging from one sixth of an acre to more than seven and a half acres.

Floriated Ornament

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This is a first edition of an important pattern book containing 31 chromolithographics designed by Augustus Welby Pugin (1812-1852) and inspired by design forms found in nature. Pugin, best known as the designer of the interiors of Houses of Parliament (1836-1868) in collaboration with Sir Charles Barry (1795-1860), was a proponent of Neo-Gothic as a national style for England.

Icones Lignorum Exoticorum et Nostratium Germanicorum

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This highly unusual book's title translates to: A Representation of Inland and Foreign Wood: As Well Trees as [sic] Shrubs which are Collected by the Lovers of Natural History in their Cabinets of Natural Curiosities for Use and Pleasure… Exotic and rare wood samples were often artifacts that were part of a collection of curiousities, as well as the woods used in crafting a cabinet of curiousities. This is a survey of indigenous woods from around the world.

A Second Century of Orchidaceous Plants

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James Bateman (1811-1897) was a renowned horticulturist, specifically focused on orchidology. He was a highly regarded researcher and landscaper who promoted the analysis and cultivation of flowers and hosted several scholarly expeditions to Mexico and South America.

The Biology of Freshwater Wetlands

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This book takes an illustrative scientific approach towards understanding how interwoven conditions such as hydrology, oxygen levels, and plant canopies impact the types of species that can be found in freshwater wetlands. These ‘abiotic’ factors contribute to the overall development and adaptation of microorganisms, invertebrates, vertebrates, and plants in wetlands. Even with the scientific approach, The Biology of Freshwater Wetlands is easy to read for researchers, students, and others interested in ecology.

Insect-Plant Biology

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The relationship between plants and insects is impacted by generations of evolution by both insects and plants. Insects consume about 10% of plant annual production in natural habitats and even more in agricultural systems. For that reason, plants have had to adapt their defensive mechanisms to fend off these predators.  Consequently, some insects have become specialized feeders in order to sustain life. Insect-Plant Biology focuses on the mechanisms that make insects specialized and how plants respond to these invasions.

Gardening for Profit

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The first edition of Peter Henderson’s Gardening for Profit was published in 1867, two years after the Civil War ended, and sold 100,000 copies. It’s considered the first book written on market gardening in the United States. Market gardening is defined as small scale production of fruits, vegetables and flowers, from less than an acre to a few acres. In today's world, you may meet a market gardener at your local farmer's market. 

Beautiful Gardens in America

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Beautiful Gardens in America (both the 1915 and 1924 editions) is Louise Shelton’s most important work and a noted work of twentieth century American gardening and cultural history. This 1924 edition includes 11 color and 274 half-tone photos (a large increase from the 1915 edition) of notable American gardens of the time. Both photos and gardens were carefully selected by the author and cover many regions of the country and varying climatic conditions.

Life Processes

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From the smallest cells to vast, swirling nebulae; from plumes of volcanic ash and rock to the relationships of primates; William L. Staley carefully details life on Earth as we know it.  He does so with the help of My Pal, a cartoon bacterium.  The result is a bit silly but informative and inviting.  Printed on coated paper and frequently dotted with illustrations, cartoons, and photographs (of special note is the fold-out photo of the skeleton from fish to man at the end).  This first edition copy is signed and dated by the author. 

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