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 Southern Colleagues

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a flora of north americaThe Cumulation of Botanical Knowledge, II
John Torrey, 1796‑1873, and Asa Gray, 1810‑1888,
A flora of North America: containing abridged descriptions of all the known indigenous and naturalized plants growing north of Mexico; arranged according to the natural system.

2 vols. New York, London: Wiley & Putnam, 1838‑1843.  Phelps Memorial Collection.

Through correspondence and the exchange of specimens, Ravenel was involved with a wide network of active botanical researchers, including Prof. Asa Gray of Harvard, the co-author of this volume and an early supporter of Darwin, and the researcher most frequently cited on the pages shown here, Moses A. Curtis (1808-1872), of Hillsboro, North Carolina.

aristida strictaA specimen of wire-grass
Aristida stricta, Mx -vera
Soc. Hill
Current name: Aristida stricta Michaux; "Carolina wiregrass."

Once a common component of well-developed longleaf pine ecosystems, this species, and its very near relative A. beyrichiana (to the south) are seriously declining, due to fire deprivation and habitat alteration.  Society Hill, in northern Darlington County, was the home of Moses Ashley Curtis (1808-1872). Curtis was highly respected by Ravenel, who referred to the senior botanist as “my good valued and long tried friend and correspondent.”

moses ashley curtisMoses Ashley Curtis (1808-1872)
From the original photograph in Ravenel’s album.
Courtesy of South Caroliniana Library.

Moses Curtis, an Episcopal minister, was one of Ravenel’s closest friends among contemporary botanists.  Though he is most often associated with Hillsboro, N.C., where he first moved in 1841 and returned again in his later years, he spent some important and very active years from 1847-1856, at Society Hill, in South Carolina.  His best-known works were two volumes on North Carolina botany, published in 1860 and 1867, and, like Ravenel, Curtis played an important role in collecting for the 8-volume series North American Fungi

baptisia calycosaA new (and rare) species from Florida
Baptisia calycosa , n. sp.
Dry Pine barrens,
Hab. Sty. Augustine, Florida
Coll. Miss Mary C. Reynolds
June 1877
Current name Baptisia calycosa Chapman. 

This is a rare member of the bean family, known only from two counties in Florida, and not seen in the wild since 1940.  The name was published in 1878 by W. M. Canby in Botanical Gazette, based upon specimens collected by Mary C. Reynolds, near St. Augustine, Florida. Canby probably sent this specimen to Ravenel, along with a copy of the original publication. The specimen itself is fragmentary, enclosed within a folded bibliography.

sarracenia rubra A specimen of "red pitcher plant" from the low country
S[arracenia] rubra Walt
coll M. Tuomey
Current name: Sarracenia rubra Walter; "Red pitcher plant."

This insectivorous plant is reasonably widespread over much of the central sandhills and also the outer coastal plain of South Carolina, with something of a distributional gap for it within the inner coastal plain.  Its population numbers are probably declining due to habitat loss. The specimen was apparently collected by Michael Tuomey (1805-1857), the State Geologist and author of A Report on the Geology of South Carolina (1848).

tsuga canadensisA specimen of a commonly-seen conifer from North Carolina
Abies Fraser
Black Mountain N.C.
L[ewis]. R[eeves]. G[ibbes].
Current name: Tsuga canadensis Carrière; "Canada hemlock."

This specimen was collected by Gibbes (1810-1894), born in Charleston and an alumnus of South Carolina College (1829), graduating the year Ravenel entered as an undergraduate.  In 1835 Gibbes published a "Catalogue" of the plants of Columbia and its vicinity, representing the first botanical work centered in present-day Richland County.  Gibbes served as an instructor at South Carolina College, and then became a member of faculty at the College of Charleston, where he was a professor of mathematics, astronomy, and physics.

In this specimen, the foliage has completely fallen away from the branches; this is not peculiar to any collecting techniques by Gibbes or to any subsequent damage to the specimen. Modern collections of this species invariable drop their foliage upon drying.

francis peyre porcherFrancis Peyre Porcher (1825-1895)
From the original photograph in Ravenel’s album.
Courtesy of South Caroliniana Library.

Frank Porcher , a younger cousin of Ravenel, graduated from South Carolina College in 1844, and from the Medical College in Charleston in 1847, publishing A Sketch of the Medical Botany of South Carolina (1849), andResources of the Southern Fields and Forests (1863).



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