Henry William Ravenel (1814-1887)

Introduction | Introduction to the Botanical Collection | Applied Botany: Some Cultivated Plants | Ravenel in the South Caroliniana Library | Type Specimens in the Ravenel Collection | Some Rare Plants | Some Noteworthy Plants | A New Species of a Fresh-Water Alga | Weedy Plants from South Carolina | Specimens from Some of Ravenel's Southern Colleagues | Specimens from Some of Ravenel's Northern Colleagues | Plants Named After Ravenel | References

Specimens Contributed by Northern Colleagues

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tilia americanaA specimen of "American basswood" from Rhode Island
Herb. S[tephen]. T[hayer]. Olney
Tilia americana Linn
Rhode Island
legit E. Flint
Current name: Tilia americana L.; "American basswood."

The specimen was collected by E. Flint and ended up in Olney's possession, before transfer to Ravenel.  Olney (1812-1878) and Ravenel exchanged extensively, this relationship probably originating from the encouragement of Asa Gray at Harvard.  Olney distinguished himself as an excellent New England botanist.

stachys tenuifoliaA “hedge-nettle” specimen collected from Illinois
Sept 1846
Stachys intermedia?
Augusta Illinois
S[amuel]. B[arnum]. Mead
Current name: Stachys tenuifolia Willdenow; "thin-leaved hedge-nettle."

A member of the mint family (Lamiaceae), the nearly cosmopolitan genusStachys contains about 250 species.  Stachys tenuifolia is one of the more widely distributed taxa in eastern North America, and is extremely variable. 

Although this species occurs as a native plant in South Carolina, there are no South Carolina specimens of it in the Ravenel herbarium.  The label inscription for this specimen is written on the back side of a printed letter.  Mead (1799-1880) was a pioneer physician and botanist in Illinois, his voluminous botanical collections made between 1830 and 1880. He collaborated with most of the botanists of his period, actively trading specimens.  Mead's collections are itemized in his 1846 publication "Catalog of plants growing spontaneously in the State of Illinois, the principal part near Augusta, Hancock County," in Prairie Farmer 6: 35-36, 60, 93, 119-122.

munroa squarrosaA western grass specimen, collected in Montana
No. 51
Munroa squarrosa, Torr.
Gravels.-Indian   Montana.
coll. F[rank]. Lamson Scribner   July 1883
Current name: Munroa squarrosa (Nuttall) Torrey; "False buffalograss."

This specimen was collected by Scribner, who was an important figure in the development of scientific study of plant diseases, within the US Department of Agriculture.  Scribner served as botanist on the Northern Transcontinental Survey in 1883, inventorying grasses and forage plants in the Montana Territory.  The specimen is annotated by Agnes Chase (1869-1963), an important figure in the taxonomy of American grasses.

kummerowia striataA specimen of “Japanese clover,” later to become a common ground cover
Lespedeza striata Hook. & Arn.
from Hong Kong sent by Prof. Gray

Current name: Kummerowia striata (Thunberg ex Murray) Schindler; "Japanese clover." Ravenel was very interested in members of the bean family and seemed to have a fondness for the genus Lespedeza.  To that end, he published a report (1868, The Land We Love, Charlotte NC; vol. v, pp 405-409) on this plant as “the new forage plant of the South.” Kummerowia striata, from eastern Asia, is widely naturalized throughout the Southeast, so much so that it is difficult to think of this now as an alien species. It was no doubt introduced into the Southeast on more than one occasion and date. This specimen is referred to in Ravenel's journal, in the entry for November 8 (Friday), 1867:

Received a letter this morning from Prof. Gray, acknowledging receipt of the roots of Eryngium Ravenelii - also sending me a bit of Lespedeza striata from Hong Kong.

asa grayAsa Gray (1810-1888)
From the original photograph in Ravenel’s album.
Courtesy of South Caroliniana Library.

Asa Gray, for many years professor of natural history at Harvard and an early American supporter of Charles Darwin, also exchanged correspondence and botanical specimens with Ravenel.

louis agassizLouis Agassiz (1807-1873)
From the original photograph in Ravenel’s album.
Courtesy of South Caroliniana Library.

Louis Agassiz was already established as scientist of international stature when he moved from Europe to the United States in 1846, embarking on a massive new project Contributions to the Natural History of the United States and founding the Museum of Natural History at Harvard.  In 1851-53, Agassiz lectured on comparative anatomy for the Medical College in Charleston, S.C.

joseph dalton hookerJoseph Dalton Hooker (1817-1911)
From the original photograph in Ravenel’s album.
Courtesy of South Caroliniana Library.

The British botanist Joseph Hooker, a younger contemporary and supporter of Charles Darwin, made his name through his collections and publications of Asian and Australasian plants.  As assistant and successor to his father as Ditrector of the Botanic Gardens at Kew, he was involved in a worldwide correspondence and plant exchanges.  In 1868, Hooker commissioned Ravenel to send him 5 pounds  worth of seeds and specimens from South Carolina.


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