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

Some Noteworthy Plants

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indigofera suffruticosaA specimen of the formerly cultivated indigo
Indigofera Anil?
found in a field at Northampton which had been cleared and planted 80 to 100         years ago then thrown out of cultivation until 5 or 6 years ago.
1840.  HWR
This is probably the indigo plant cultivated in this section of country previous to the introduction of cotton.  It is a West Indian species.
Current name: Indigofera suffruticosa P. Miller; “Indigo.”  Identification provided by David H. Rembert, Jr.

This species is native to the New World, having been taken to Portugal before its ultimate return to America, as one of the two sources of cultivated indigo (the other species is I. tinctoria).  The occurrence of this plant in an old agricultural field in 1840 at Ravenel’s plantation “Northampton” suggests substantial longevity of the seeds while in the ground.  Ravenel refers to the persistence of this species following cultivation in a short publication in 1876 (Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 6(18): 93-94), 36 years after the collection at hand.  Ravenel suggests in this note that indigo was perhaps commonly seen “on old settled places along the seabound [sic].” (It is not seen any longer.)

rhynchospora caducaA sedge specimen collected from Texas
Rhynchospora [in pencil, "caduca M."]    159
      near R. patula Gray
May 30/69  Prairie near Indianola
HWR   Texas
Current name: Rhynchospora caduca Michaux.

Ravenel's experience in Texas, during the spring of 1869, resulted in considerable collection of grasses and sedges.  This species is rather widespread in the Southeast, from Texas to Virginia.

His collection numbered 160, from a "wet prairie near Indianola" (a specimen that is represented in the Converse/USC collection) was used as the type specimen for "Rhynchospora indianolensis", named by John K. Small (1869-1938), premier botanist of the Southeast, who published his Flora of the Southeastern United States in 1903. The holotype is at the New York Botanical Garden. Indianola is a coastal town, located on Madagordo Bay, southwest of Houston. Rhynchospora indianolensis is a Texas endemic, not occurring outside the state.

sarracenia minorA specimen of "hooded pitcher plant" from the low country
J[oseph]. H[inson].M[Mellichamp]. S.C.
20 June [18]'74
Honey Trail from cleft to ground
Current name: Sarracenia minor Walter, "Hooded pitcher plant."

Collected by J. H.  Mellichamp, perhaps from savanna habitat somewhere in Beaufort or Jasper County.  Mellichamp's curious note refers to the pattern of "light spots", or "fenestrations" on the outer surface of the pitcher.  This species belongs to a fascinating group of carnivorous plants, whose leaves are modified into hollow tubes, which, when appropriately filled with water and enzymes, are able to attract, drown and digest insects.  Although not endangered, this and other species of Sarracenia are threatened by habitat loss in South Carolina, and all of the species are probably declining in numbers.

magnolia macrophyllaA specimen of "Bigleaf magnolia"
Magnolia macrophylla Mx
Stone Mt - Talula Falls [illeg.] Ga.
legit HWR
Current name: Magnolia macrophylla Michaux; "Bigleaf magnolia."

This eastern species was originally described by André Michaux (1746-1802) from plants growing in North Carolina.  Ravenel collected it at least once in the vicinity of Stone Mountain, Georgia, and this plant is scattered in the western piedmont of Georgia today.  It is not known from existing populations, however, at Tallulah Falls, or from herbarium specimens at the University of Georgia.  The plants are rather widely known in cultivation presently, and are a regular attraction in the early summer at Columbia's Robert Mills House on Blanding Street.

magnolifa grandifloraBotanical Illustration in South Carolina, III
Unknown artist, c. 1765.
“The Magnolia or Laurel Tree of South-Carolina.”
Current name: Magnolia grandiflora.

From the collection presented by Mrs. William Carroll Brown, Belton, S.C.


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