ISSN 1188-603X

No. 261 December 12, 2000 Victoria, B.C.
Dr. A. Ceska, P.O.Box 8546, Victoria, B.C. Canada V8W 3S2

DR. RUPERT C. BARNEBY (1911-2000)

From: Barbara Thiers [], originally posted on

Dr. Rupert Charles Barneby, Curator Emeritus in The New York Botanical Garden's Institute of Systematic Botany and one of the Garden's most senior and distinguished scientists, died Tuesday, December 5. He was 89 years old.

Barneby's association with The New York Botanical Garden spanned nearly a half century. He arrived as a visiting scholar in the 1950s and shortly thereafter accepted a staff position as Honorary Curator of Western Botany. He went on to become a Research Associate and an Editorial Consultant for Brittonia, the Garden's esteemed scientific journal covering systematic botany.

A self-taught botanist, Barneby rose to become a world expert in Leguminosae (the bean family) and Menispermaceae (the moonseed family). He spent his career at the Garden curating and studying the world's best collection of New World Leguminosae.

Gregory Long, President of The New York Botanical Garden, said, "Rupert Barneby was one of the most productive botanists of the twentieth century, a giant in the field of botanical research. Over the last half century, he has been an inspiring mentor, a meticulous scholar, and a creative editor who has made an enormous contribution to the botanical world. We at The New York Botanical Garden are indeed fortunate that his kind, generous, gentle manner graced our lives."

In 1999, the International Botanical Congress presented Barneby with its prestigious Millennium Botany Award for a lifetime of contribution to science. In 1980, he was the winner of the Henry Allan Gleason Award, an annual award from The New York Botanical Garden for an outstanding recent publication in the field of plant taxonomy, plant ecology, or plant geography. In 1989, the American Society of Plant Taxonomists awarded Barneby with the Asa Gray Award for his contributions to systematic botany. In 1991, The Garden honored Barneby by institutionalizing his legacy through the establishment of the Rupert C. Barneby Fund for Research in Legume Systematics. The Engler Silver Medal, botanical science's highest honor for publications, was awarded to Barneby in 1992 for his monographic work Sensitivae Censitae: A Revision of the Genus Mimosa Linnaeus (Mimosaceae) in the New World.

Since the publication of his first botanical paper in 1941, Barneby published more than 6,500 pages of papers, monographs, and journals. Among his most influential works are Atlas of North American Astragalus; Daleae Imagines; Intermountain Flora, Volume 3, Part B; and Silk Tree, Guanacaste, Monkey's Earring: A Generic System for the Synandrous Mimosaceae of the Americas, (3 Volumes).

"Rupert Barneby was an incredible scholar and one of the nicest people I have known. He was one of the most productive and erudite students of botany and horticulture on the staff of The New York Botanical Garden in its 109-year history. He will be remembered by thousands of colleagues for his uncommon generosity in sharing his inexhaustible knowledge and precise editorial skills. He has left an authoritative legacy of publications and will be sorely missed by botanists around the world," said Professor Sir Ghillean Prance FRS, VMH, the former Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Barneby was known for his talent for discovering or rediscovering rare and local species. In the course of his five decades of research, Barneby described and named over 1,100 different plant species new to science. A botanist is fortunate to have a new species of plant named in his honor. Barneby had not only 25 different species named after him, but also, three genera (groups of species sharing common characteristics, such as roses or oaks) of plants -- Barnebya, Barnebyella, and Barnebydendron.

Barneby was a member of the American Society of Plant Taxonomists, the International Association for Plant Taxonomy, and the New England Botanical Club, and a Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences.

"Rupert Barneby was a great student of plants in the style of George Bentham and the other encyclopedic workers of the nineteenth century, who would tirelessly analyze all we knew about enormous groups of plants and reduce that knowledge to lucid prose, working day after day, month after month, and year after year. He always had time to encourage and help students and colleagues, giving them the benefit of his extraordinary classical education, friendly personality, and love for plants. He will be greatly missed," said Dr. Peter Raven, Director of the Missouri Botanical Garden and close friend and colleague.

He lived among literati as easily as he did among scientists. Considered his close friends were W.H. Auden, Christopher Isherwood, Julian Huxley, and others.

Rupert Barneby was born October 6, 1911, in Monmouthshire, England. He attended Cambridge University where he received his B.A. in History and Modern Languages in 1932. He came to the United States in 1937 and established permanent residency in 1941. In 1978, he was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Science degree from The City University of New York. In accordance with his wishes, there will be no funeral. The Garden will hold a memorial celebration in January.


To be held in conjunction with the 44th Symposium of the International Association of Vegetation Science (IAVS) Freising-Weihenstephan, near Munich, Germany 30-31 July 2001

Chair: Prof. Dr. Klaus Dierssen, University of Kiel, Germany

Program Coordinators:


  1. Regional syntaxonomies and their integration into a circumpolar framework
  2. Regional and pan-regional releve databases
  3. Development of future international project for classification of boreal forests of the world

We would like to invite presentations on any of the above or related topics. Interested persons should contact Dr. Milan Chytry (Europe and Asia) or Toby Spribille (North America). Please find out more information about the 44th Symposium of the IAVS at the symposium website:

Deadline for the receipt of abstracts is 15 Jan 2001. Please submit a copy of your abstract to one of the Program Coordinators as well as over the Registration section of the symposium website listed above.


From: George W. Douglas []

This plant has an interesting history in British Columbia. It was first reported by J.K. Henry from Pachena Bay (near Bamfield) prior to 1915 (Henry 1915) and was later collected there in 1927. A second collection, from Ahousat (near Tofino) was made in 1915. Officially, it was not seen again until the summer of 2000 by Jim Hamilton, who lives along the Pacific Coast Trail in Pacific Rim National Park. Jim tells us that a previous neighbour saw this species in 1941 on the same beach. Although Mr. Hamilton has lived near this beach since 1954 and explores it often every summer, this is the first time he has seen it.

On September 11, 2000 a Conservation Data Centre field team (George W. Douglas, Jenifer Penny and Beth Rogers) visited the site. Two Abronia umbellata ssp. acutalata plants were examined on the upper beach, just below the driftwood zone. The plants were growing in fine sand in a plant community comprised almost solely of scattered Cakile maritima, a European introduction. The plants measured 2 x 1.5 and 1 x 0.75 metres in diameter. The larger plant had about 200 flower/seed heads while the smaller had about 100 heads. About 20 seed heads were collected for propagation and further research. A search of about a 2 km of beach on foot and a quick aerial reconnaissance by helicopter over about 30 km of coastline did not reveal additional Abroniaplants.

On the Oregon Coast another pink sandverbena (Abronia umbellata ssp. breviflora) has received special attention due to its rarity. Tom Kaye, a Ph.D. graduate student at Oregon State University has, for the past five years, conducted research on this taxon. This species has probably always had low numbers in Oregon since the plant is mainly an annual and depends almost solely on regeneration from seed after it is washed away each year by strong winter storms. In addition, since the turn of the century plant numbers have been greatly reduced in Oregon due to loss of its open habitat caused by the invasion of Ammophila arenaria, a European grass. More recently, off-road vehicles have also threatened these habitats. Abronia umbellatassp. brevifloraseeds were propagated in the greenhouse, seeds collected, then dispersed at appropriate upper beach sites along the southern Oregon coast. Although germination percentage is high in the greenhouse, it is low in the field. About one/4,000 seeds germinates and survives into the growing season. Both hand dispersal of seeds and transplants on the Oregon beaches have achieved some short-term success. At seeding rates of 50,000 seeds/site, the initial establishment of plants ranged from 0 to over 1500. Survival of greenhouse transplants at several sites has proved successful. The long-term success of both methods, however, depends on the recruitment of new plants, their seed production and subsequent survival of some of them as short-lived perennials. While on a golfing holiday on the Oregon Coast, a week after my return from Pacific Rim National Park, I was able to accompany Tom and his associates to some of his research sites.

The question, whether this British Columbia plant is the rarest plant on the planet or just the rarest plant in Canada, depends on its taxonomic status. American botanists in California and Oregon often extend the range of ssp. brevifloraas far north as British Columbia. In contrast, Tillett (1967) and Washington/British Columbia botanists have recognized ssp. acutalataas occurring in Washington and British Columbia. If the latter treatments are shown to be justified by morphological studies - following the original treatments by Standley (1909, 1918) - and DNA examination, then our plant is indeed rare on the planet, having been declared extinct in British Columbia by myself and in Washington by John Gamon. (It could easily return, however, to its extinct status with the coming of storms this winter.) I am currently comparing material from southwestern Oregon with our British Columbia collections while Keith Karoly, Oregon State University is studying DNA from the British Columbia populations (grown on from seed by Tom Kaye) and will compare it with his previous studies of California and Oregon material.


Standley, P.C. 1909.
The Allioniaceae of the United States, with notes on Mexican species. Contr. U.S. Nat. Herb. 12: 303-389.
Standley, P.C. 1918.
Allioniaceae. North Amer. Flora 21: 171-254.
Tillett, S.S. 1967.
The maritime species of Abronia (Nyctaginaceae). Brittonia 19: 299-327.


From: Adolf Ceska & Oldriska Ceska c/o []
Crow, Garrett E. & C. Barre Hellquist. 2000.
Aquatic and wetland plants of northeastern North America: a revised and enlarged edition of Norman C. Fassett's A manual of aquatic plants. Volume 1: Pteridophytes, gymnosperms, and angiosperms: dicotyledons. The University of Wisconsin Press, Madison. LV+480 p. ISBN 0-299-16330-X [hard cover] Price: US$90.00
Crow, Garrett E. & C. Barre Hellquist. 2000.
Aquatic and wetland plants of northeastern North America: a revised and enlarged edition of Norman C. Fassett's A manual of aquatic plants. Volume 2: Angiosperms: monocotyledons. The University of Wisconsin Press, Madison. LV+400 p. ISBN 0-299-16280-X [hard cover] Price: US$90.00

"A manual of aquatic plants" by Norman Fassett, published in 1940, dealt with aquatic plants of the northeast part of North America, but its scope and influence was much wider. Aquatic environments tend to buffer climatic factors and aquatic plants are generally more widespread than their dry land relatives. Many aquatic and wetland plants are circumpolar and occur, sometimes disjunctly, all over the northern hemisphere. We used "Fassett" every time we were not able to identify an aquatic plant here in British Columbia and to our surprise, we determined quite a few species not previously reported from our area (e.g. Ceratophyllum echinatum, Myriophyllum farwellii, Potamogeton oakesianus, P. strictifolius, etc.).

The "revised and enlarged edition of Norman C. Fassett's A manual of aquatic plants" covers the geographic area from southern Ontario to Newfoundland and south to northern Virginia and western Minnesota. It deals with 1139 species that belong to 295 genera. The work retains the original format of the Fassett's manual: like the original Fassett's Manual, it is a collection of excellent identification keys, notes on distribution and taxonomy of each species, with copious illustrations and many useful references. The authors deleted cryptogams from the original "Fassett" scope and added a large number of wetland species that were not covered in the original "Fassett". The authors added many new illustrations and more than 600 pages of illustrations provide the line drawings for about 90 per cent of included taxa. The book retains the feel of the Fassett's Manual, in spite of the fact that it grew from a slim single volume into two much larger and thicker volumes.

Although this revision has many features of the Fassett's Manual, much of the actual content is new, and contains the result of hard, meticulous work of its authors. Already in the 1980's Drs. Crow & Hellquist wrote a series of identifications keys ("Manual of Aquatic Plants of New England") published as Bulletins of the New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station that were hailed as the best identification keys for aquatic plants in North America. The present keys were used in numerous field workshops and the authors acknowledged the valuable contributions of students who were using and testing the keys in various identification courses. After such testing there are not many features that can be improved upon. Our only criticism is that we would have liked to see an indication of scale in the illustrations.

Both volumes are well produced by the University of Wisconsin Press. The price of the book (US$90.00 per each volume) is high, but not unreasonable, if you consider the quality of this publication.

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