In the Herbarium: Beginnings

Photograph of Agnes Arber, 1911

Yale University Press has just published my book In the Herbarium: The Hidden World of Collecting and Preserving Plants.  In this series of posts, I’m going to try to describe how I got to this point.  In part this is obviously a way to promote sales.  While admitting that, I also promise to cease promoting when this series ends.  And don’t worry, like all the other series, it will only be four posts, not a hundred and four.  Equally important to me is that this series gives me the opportunity to acknowledge and thank people who supported me in so many ways to get here. 

As I have admitted many times in this blog, I am not a botanist, though I did learn a love of plants from my mother, who nurtured them in our house and yard.  She was very proud of winning the All-Ireland prize in botany when she was in high school, before immigrating to the US.  So I guess there is botany in my blood.  However, for most of my life in biology I was in love with cells, not plants.  For extra reading in my freshman biology course, we were assigned a book full of electron microscope images of cells.  I don’t remember anything I read, but the images stuck with me.  I was intrigued that there could be so much going on in such a tiny world.  Molecular biology and microbiology became my focus.  After completing my master’s, I took a job teaching nonscience majors at St. John’s University and started a doctoral program in biology at New York University.  I soon discovered that it took a lot of work to lure students into the world of cells and molecules, so I had to broaden my horizons.  As I did, plants and animals and human physiology began to creep into my consciousness and into my classroom.

This opening of my world took another turn in 1980 when my husband Robert Hendrick came into my life, and we began a wonderful 23-year-long relationship.  He taught history at St. John’s (very convenient) and had a passion for art history.  I began to learn about art and more importantly about really looking at art.  Having Bob in my life also gave me the courage to do something I had wanted to do:  write about biology.  In 1982, I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to publish a monthly column called “Biology Today” for The American Biology Teacher.  I did so for 30 years and this work forced me to broaden my view of biology still further.  I would write about genetics one month, and animal behavior the next, then tropical plants, then . . . .  As I became more interested in art, the visual aspects of biology crept in as well. 

However, all these wonderful parts of my life caused a problem.  Though I had finished the course work for a biology doctorate, I couldn’t see myself doing laboratory research while still teaching and having a married life.  I eventually entered a doctoral program in science education at New York University.  I chose it because they offered a Ph.D. as well as an Ed.D. option, and I wanted to have the rigor of the former.  Also, it offered a number of courses in the history and philosophy of science.  Two fortuitous things then happened over the next couple of years.  First, I came upon a book in the St. John’s library entitled On Aesthetics in Science (Wechsler, 1978).  Wow, who knew the two went together?  That same day I decided this would be the subject of my dissertation.  I had the blueprint right there.  Needless to say, it wasn’t that easy.  Shortly afterwards Cecily Cannan Selby became a member of the science education department after a distinguished career in electron microscopy research and then in science administration.  Cecily had long been fascinated by the relationship between art and science, so almost instantly I had a thesis adviser. 

In my research I soon came across a book called The Mind and the Eye by Agnes Arber (1954) where she discusses her experiences in plant morphology research and in drawing her own illustrations.  Through these she became convinced that art and science were intimately related.  When Bob and I were each asked to contribute essays to a volume on women in biology (Grinstein et al., 1987), I chose Arber as my subject and he chose Almira Hart Lincoln Phelps.  Then I began sliding down the slippery slope of botany through Phelps’s immensely popular 19th-century textbook on botany and Arber’s influential book on early modern herbals (1938).  This eventually led me to take botanical illustration courses at New York Botanical Garden, further deepening my interest in art and plants.   

Bob and I had fun doing our own research and slowly becoming more interested in each other’s disciplines.  At conferences, I soon learned that co-presenting was not the way to go.  We would each present, but on related topics such as Louis Pasteur from the scientific and science popularization perspectives or the art and ecology in the 19th century landscapes of Frederic Church.  Then Bob was given a dire cancer diagnosis.  The next morning he said:  “The worst thing about this is that I’ll die, and you’ll remarry.”  I laughed in his face.  I had thought of a thousand things over the last 24 hours and that was definitely not one of them!  However, several years after his death in 2003, he did allow me to fall in love again.  How I was moonstruck by herbaria is the subject of my next post.


Arber, A. (1938). Herbals: Their Origin and Evolution, A Chapter in the History of Botany, 1470-1670 (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Arber, A. (1954). The Mind and the Eye: A Study of the Biologist’s Standpoint. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Grinstein, L., Biermann, C., & Rose, R. (Eds.). (1997). Women in the Biological Sciences Women in the Biological Sciences—A Biobibliographic Sourcebook.  Norwalk, CT: Greenwood Press

Wechsler, J. (Ed.). (1978). On Aesthetics in Science. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Botany Today: Specimen Photographs

In this last of a series of posts (1,2,3) on the future of botany, I want to take up a topic that seems to be receiving more attention lately:  the relationships between specimens and photographs.  Even as stout a defender of herbarium specimens as myself has to admit that there is a considerable difference between them and living plants, between brown and virtually two-dimensional as opposed to colorful and in 3-D.  Photographs have the storage advantages of specimens while providing at least some of the information that specimens lack.  In addition, digital photography has made it cheaper to take photographs and easier to store them. 

Yet despite their usefulness, plant photographs, at least for some species, are not easy to come by.  In a 2021 article in Nature Plants, Pitman et al. reported on a survey of 25 online databases of field photographs and found that they held only about 53% of the 125,000 vascular plant species from the Americas.  The databases they searched included those hosted by botanic gardens, natural history museums, and other entities such as Flora of the World and  Also, three social media and community science platforms were surveyed: iNaturalist, Pl@ntNet and Flickr.  These three accounted for 37.8% of the species, and photos of about a third of these species were not found on any other sites.  Flickr and iNaturalist also had the best geographic coverage. 

Not surprisingly, North American species were more likely to be photographed than those of central and South America.  But there were wide variations in coverage, with 71.9 % of Bolivian species pictured versus 56.8% of those in Brazil.  There were also differences among plant families with 98.1% of the Liliaceae captured, but only 18.7% of the Piperaceae, which have less showy flowers.  Not surprisingly, rare plants were less likely to be photographed as were relatively new species.  In addition, the researchers found that when they rechecked their results after several months that a number of species were represented that hadn’t been there earlier.  So this is definitely a changing landscape, but one that’s troubling to those attempting to document and study biodiversity. 

The Americas are not the only areas that have this problem.  A new Australian study of (Mesaglio et al., 2023) revealed that 17.6% of the Australian flora of 21,077 vascular plant species are not represented by any photographs.  Here 33 online resources were used, again including social media and community science platforms.  Obviously the coverage is much better than for the Americas.  Australia has a well-organized system of state herbaria, was an early adopter of digitization, and is able to draw upon an up-to-date list of its species.  Still there are gaps, again related to the rarity of species or their recent discovery, and there are also geographic disparities.  While Western Australia is the most species-diverse state there are some areas that are very difficult to access, hence less photography has been done.  Other reasons for gaps cited by the authors were for plants that are difficult to identify or that lack “charisma.” 

Both articles stress the importance not only of the number of photographs but their quality.  These need to be high-resolution and capture as many of the plant’s identifying characteristics as possible.  Thus the best photographs are likely to be those taken by individuals who know enough about plant systematics to literally focus on identifying traits.  This is a topic that Carlos Gómez-Bellver (2019) and his colleagues in Barcelona address in an article where they propose standards for photographs to complement herbarium vouchers.  However, the guidelines would also be useful for photographs not physically attached to specimens, but linked to them as part of the extended specimen concept. 

The authors list six cases where photos would considerably increase a specimen’s taxonomic value.  First are large species such as a palm, where photos of the plant as a whole and its habitat would help to put the specimen into context.  Succulent or spiny plants, that are difficult to prepare would also benefit from such photos, with only small pieces of the plant itself attached; the same is true of plants with toxic substances.  Then there are species for which little remains but seeds and withered material, also species that lose important morphological traits when they are pressed and dried.  There might be cases where the specimen is the only one in the vicinity, so the photo would serve as a voucher; the same would be true of plants at sacred sites where collection might be considered disrespectful. 

The authors call for the development of a protocol with standards that photographs must meet to be considered as reference material to be tied to a voucher.  I can’t go into all the elements here, but they include reflecting the entire size of the plant and its habitat.  The photo must also include the standard metadata about date and location, the collector, and precise geolocation.  What they term “fusion vouchers” are those that include both a specimen and photos; these would be stored in herbaria.  Photo vouchers alone could be filed in a variety of ways which are discussed.  At this time, there is no standardization.  But as the other articles I’ve discussed here make clear, it would be important for the photos to be accessible digitally.


Gómez‐Bellver, C., Ibáñez, N., López‐Pujol, J., Nualart, N., & Susanna, A. (2019). How photographs can be a complement of herbarium vouchers: A proposal of standardization. TAXON, 68(6), 1321–1326.

Mesaglio, T., Sauquet, H., Coleman, D., Wenk, E., & Cornwell, W. K. (2023). Photographs as an essential biodiversity resource: Drivers of gaps in the vascular plant photographic record. New Phytologist, 238(4), 1685–1694.

Pitman, N. C. A., Suwa, T., Ulloa Ulloa, C., Miller, J., Solomon, J., Philipp, J., Vriesendorp, C. F., Derby Lewis, A., Perk, S., Bonnet, P., Joly, A., Tobler, M. W., Best, J. H., Janovec, J. P., Nixon, K. C., Thiers, B. M., Tulig, M., Gilbert, E. E., Campostrini Forzza, R., … Hilo de Souza, E. (2021). Identifying gaps in the photographic record of the vascular plant flora of the Americas. Nature Plants, 7(8), 1010–1014.

Botany Today: Rethinking the Ph.D.

From the One Tree, One Planet website

In the herbarium community, Pamela Soltis and Doug Soltis are best known for their involvement in the iDigBio project and for their research in evolutionary and ecological systematics.  They are both at the Florida Museum of Natural History, part of the University of Florida, Gainesville.  With four university colleagues, they recently published a paper proposing a reexamination of the botany Ph.D., with the subtitle: “Widening the Circle.”  Their basic message is that botanists need to be better at communicating science to nonscientists, and this is something that shouldn’t be considered an expertise that’s easy to pick up on the job.  Instead, it involves a skill that could be developed within the Ph.D. program just as methods of thinking about and doing scientific research are.

To make their case Soltis et al. trace the origins of the Ph.D. back to medieval treatises produced as part of the education of scholars, and then on to European, particularly German, scientific programs begun in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.  These were focused rather narrowly on particular areas of research and with the subsequent publication of the results.  This model hasn’t changed much since then.  There have been moves over the past 30 years to give greater emphasis to teaching because many with doctorates take posts in educational institutions.  However, learning how to teach does not necessarily mean learning how to communicate with nonscientists, because the assumption was often that these future professors would be teaching those planning careers in the field, thus future professionals. 

As someone who spent her life teaching nonscience majors, I can attest to the fact that communicating with nonscientists involves a different mindset.   I realized that the first time I attempted to teach protein synthesis to freshmen majoring in such diverse fields as criminal justice and telecommunications.  It was a jarring experience and one that affected what I did for the next 46 years.  I realized that rather than sitting on my biology perch and spouting technical terms like ribosome and transcriptase and amino acid, I had to draw in students by making protein synthesis relate to their lives of building muscles and having good hair.  Developing such skills led me into all kinds of unlikely places like learning about art and history and automobile engines.  I loved it, although I didn’t love the fact that those in my institution’s “real” biology department did not give me the time of day because I was just teaching “service” courses in the College of Professional Studies. 

It is this divide between high-brow and low-brow science that the Ph.D. article is attempting to break down.  It suggests revamping the dissertation to make it more about public engagement, and notes that the NSF has been considering the “broader impacts” of research and the need to communicate them from the 1960s, but more formally since the end of the last century.  Today engagement with the public is even more crucial, especially  in such fields as public health and dealing with climate change.  Soltis et al. argue that the standard elements of the dissertation could remain, but that there should be the inclusion of a “public engagement” segment, in other words, a presentation of the research in a form that would be both understandable and interesting to a nonscientist.     

The discussion lays out several forms this section could take including a comic book format for a formal poster presentation or in an activity for younger students.  For a number of years, students have been making videos of their research findings, often with clever ways of drawing in a viewer.  There is even a movement to dance your dissertation and also to write stories about it, perhaps as a form of creative nonfiction.  Now all this may seem frivolous, but remember the “solid” research that backs up these efforts, which are hardly trivial and can be very worthwhile experiences in themselves.  Even for those with an interest in drawing or videography or some other field, a great deal of thought has to go into translating or morphing scientific ideas into a different medium.  This is particularly true because science has its own rhetoric and conventions which are not familiar to the uninitiated.             

In other words, an engagement project has to be more than simply an afterthought, something tacked on to the end of a dissertation at the last minute.  In order for it to be integral to the experience of doctoral work, learning ways of communicating with nonscientists has to be built into the research plan.  To foster this, the authors suggest that faculty from art or education departments be included on doctoral committees.  Also, there could be assignments in science courses that include artistic or other creative elements.  Guest speakers who are involved in engagement projects is another approach.  What this amounts to is that not only the students but the faculty have to consider engagement more seriously.  The Soltis Lab has done just that by obtaining funding for and spearheading an art/science project One Tree, One Planet and an animated movie called Tree Tender.  These were assessed by how well they communicated principles of phylogeny and ecological interdependence to viewers (Valle et al., 2020).  In this article Soltis et al. specifically address botanical education because, as the authors indicate, it’s a field that is underfunded and therefore in particular need of more public support.  However, the proposals for doctoral reform presented here really apply across the sciences.


Soltis, D. E., Smocovitis, V. B., Pham, K. K., Cortez, M. B. S., Smith, A. L., & Soltis, P. S. (2023). Rethinking the Ph.D. dissertation in botany: Widening the circle. American Journal of Botany, 110(3), e16136.

Valle, N., Antonenko, P., Soltis, P. S., Soltis, D. E., Folk, R. A., Guralnick, R. P., Oliverio, J. C., Difato, T. T., Xu, Z., & Cheng, L. (2020). Informal multimedia biodiversity awareness event as a digital ecology for promoting culture of science. Education and Information Technologies, 25(4), 3275–3297.

Botany Today: Herbaria

Global map of biodiversity from GBIF occurrce data, showing continued bias in records from the Northern Hemisphere

While the articles I discussed in the last post on important questions facing plant research hardly mentioned herbaria, they are front and center in Charles Davis’s (2023) article: “The Herbarium of the Future.”  It’s an opinion piece in Trends in Ecology and Evolution, so it perhaps takes a broader view of the uses of herbaria than might be found in a systematics journal.  It is also written with a vitality, a lively pace, as if Davis is trying to fit in as much as possible about the promising future of herbaria—and plants—before a reader’s interest might flag.  But this is unlikely since he does a good job of introducing, one after another, aspects of the world of plant collections and how they can be used now and in the future in researching many questions that appeared in the lists of critical issues in the field (see last post).

Davis employs terms that connote change and growth.  His first heading is “A Revolution in Herbarium Use” where he outlines changes in herbaria and in how they are used.  One is what he terms the development of the global metaherbarium:  the growing collection of herbarium specimen data and images available on the internet, in most cases without paywalls.  The Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) is the largest of these portals, but there are many others including DiSSCo for European herbaria and iDigBio for those in the United States.  The data in these repositories overlap, and yet there really is no “metaherbarium” which harvests information from all other sources.  And there may never be, or at least it will take a long time to get there.

Davis is presenting what the plant science question group calls “horizon scanning,” peering into the future of what might be (Armstrong et al., 2023).  However, there are enormous technical difficulties in linking even collections that are using similar hardware and software.  The plus side is that as these problems have come to light so has the realization that they must be dealt with on a global level (Manzano & Julier, 2021).  The Alliance for Biodiversity Knowledge and other organizations such as the long-standing Biodiversity Information Standards (TDWG) are important forces in moving these goals forward.  The reason for urgency in effectively mobilizing data for all natural history collections is the crying need to use them for research on biodiversity and its conservation, or as Davis puts it: “Innovating Traditional Applications of Herbaria to Speed Discovery.” 

Writing of innovation and speed are rhetorical devices Davis uses to emphasize how critical the situation is.  There are still new species to be discovered, many of these already sitting in herbarium cabinets.  Could AI help to recognize some of them?  Here again, we are still in the early stages, but there have been significant advances in training machine learning systems to identify specimens.  The same is even more true of improvements in “herbariomics,” that is, extracting and sequencing DNA from herbarium specimens, even in cases where they are hundreds of years old.  Davis writes that:  “The metaherbarium soon will become the central resource for such [phylogenomic] investigations spanning populations, communities, and whole continents (p. 4).”  This is definitely on the far horizon.  If collection databases are often difficult to link together, how much more challenging will it be to extract DNA from far-flung collections?  Still, such forward thinking is essential so that possibilities feed into the groundwork now being laid for this bright future.  It includes training individuals worldwide in the skills needed to bring such work to fruition. 

The final section before the conclusion is entitled:  “Breathing New Life into Herbaria: Expanding Users and Novel Applications.”  This doesn’t require as much stretching to see the horizon because much has already happened here.  Ecologists are becoming more aware of herbaria as sources of information on life cycle traits and how they may change over time (Heberling, 2022).  Fifteen years ago phenological studies of the effect of climate change on flowering times were novel; now they have increased to the point of indicating the complexity and variety of species responses, on both small and large geographical scales.  Insect herbivory, fungal relationships, and pollinator interactions can be investigated, often by using more than one kind of natural history collection. 

Herbaria are also important in conservation work, in comparing past plant distributions with those of the present, and in studying how the genetics of populations may have changed over time.  There are really just too many ways herbaria can be used to list them all here or in Davis’s article (Funk, 2003).  However he does give a rather extensive list of uses, including devoting a full-page spread of photos from an exhibit at his home institution, Harvard University.  The Harvard Museum of Natural History opened “In Search of Thoreau’s Flowers: An Exploration of Change and Loss” in June 2022.  I’ve written about it before (see earlier post), but I want to mention it again here in the context of Davis’s article.  All 600 Thoreau herbarium specimens held at Harvard have been digitized.  These images are in the exhibit, presented through the work of several artists.  Davis is highlighting a trend that has become much more common in the 21st century:  the use of herbarium specimens as inspiration for artists.  The great thing about this exhibit is that it remained up for almost a year, was at a popular museum, and highlighted the work of a well-known figure.  It was a wonderful way to introduce herbaria to a wider audience, while also highlighting the changes in the environment in which Thoreau collected.


Armstrong, E. M., Larson, E. R., Harper, H., Webb, C. R., Dohleman, F., Araya, Y., Meade, C., Feng, X., Mukoye, B., Levin, M. J., Lacombe, B., Bakirbas, A., Cardoso, A. A., Fleury, D., Gessler, A., Jaiswal, D., Onkokesung, N., Pathare, V. S., Phartyal, S. S., … Grierson, C. S. (2023). One hundred important questions facing plant science: An international perspective. New Phytologist, 238(2), 470–481.

Davis, C. C. (2023). The herbarium of the future. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 38(5), 412–423.

Funk, V. A. (2003). 100 uses for a herbarium. American Society of Plant Taxonomists Newsletter, 17(2), 17–19.

Heberling, J. M. (2022). Herbaria as big data sources of plant traits. International Journal of Plant Sciences, 183(2), 87–118.

Manzano, S., & Julier, A. C. M. (2021). How FAIR are plant sciences in the twenty-first century? The pressing need for reproducibility in plant ecology and evolution. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 288(1944), 20202597.

Botany Today and Tomorrow

Horizon scanning at its best: South Carolina

In the April 2023 issue of the New Phytologist there is a letter entitled:  “One hundred important questions for plant science—reflecting on a decade of plant research” (Larson et al., 2023).  It looks at the 2011 publication of a list that had been painstakingly assembled from hundreds of questions submitted by various constituencies of the botanical community (Grierson et al., 2011) and then goes on to introduce an updated list, also in the April New Phytologist (Armstrong et al., 2023).  I think examining this group of articles makes a good first post in this series on what botany as a discipline looks like today and how it might develop, and thrive, in the future. 

I have to admit at the start that I was somewhat perplexed to find that the terms “herbaria” and “plant collections” aren’t used at all in the original set of questions, nor in the letter introducing the updated list.  They both do pop up—once each—in question 25 of the revised list:  “How can we harness the power of plant collections (Arboreta, Botanic Gardens and Herbaria) for research, education and public engagement?” (p. 473).  Despite this, I found the lists and the discussions accompanying them fascinating.  In both iterations, there were three main goals.  The first two were similar in both:  to stimulate discussion among different areas of plant science and to encourage plant scientists to think beyond their own research areas.  The third goal in the original list was “to illustrate the importance and potential of plant science to the broader public” (Grierson et al., 2011, p. 6).  For the updated list the goal became to “include historically excluded voices and elicit both region-specific and globally relevant questions”   (Armstrong, 2023, p. 470).

Questions were invited through a variety of media and from a variety of plant-focused institutions worldwide.  For the first set, 350 questions were received, while that number jumped to 616 on the second go-round.  For the first list, a panel met both virtually and in person to categorize and then whittle down the questions.  The second time, the goal of more inclusion was taken seriously with four regional panels formed representing Europe, North and South America, Asia and Oceania, and Africa.  They shaved the original list down, with another panel creating the final list.  

Reading the three publications:  the first list, the introductory letter for the second compilation, and then that list itself, was fascinating.  All three are reminders of how broad the field of plant science is, how many aspects it entails, how complex their interactions are, and thus how difficult it is to answer any one question without getting answers for many others.  Reading these articles is a great exercise in expanding awareness, and what the authors of the second set call horizon scanning:  trying to see future trends.  They note that this term has become more common in the past ten years, as has awareness of the effects of past colonization practices on many aspects of plant studies and agriculture.  Climate change too has become a more urgent topic and all these factors are reflected in the questions.

In this brief post, I can’t go into specifics but I will list the 11 issues that are considered most critical today:  climate change, science in the community, food security, biodiversity, sustainability, plant-plant interactions, plant disease, plant-microbiome interactions, plant adaptation, plant stress responses, and ecosystem services.  It’s obvious how these are interrelated.  I find the second the most intriguing so I’ll quote it in full:  “Science in the community: how can we insure that the varied goals and needs of our diverse societies are understood and fulfilled by plant scientists? (Armstrong et al., 2023, p. 472)”  Talk about huge and interrelated with many other issues, yet I think it lacks something:  a sense of give-and-take among plant scientists and “our diverse societies” and among those societies themselves.  Plant scientists have to understand people’s needs, but they also have to communicate to communities about the limits of scientific knowledge and of resource development. 

I may be pushing things here because of my own prejudice in favor of plant collections, but herbaria have recently shown a great willingness to communicate with many communities about their work and about how these communities can participate that work in many ways.  I can also make a case for the importance of plant collections to every one of the 11 areas listed above.  I think failure to mention plant collections and herbaria in particular is not so much a reflection of a lack of importance, but rather results from their being so interwoven into the fabric of plant science that they are taken for granted.  While this is understandable, it is not desirable.  This is one of the reasons collections continue to be underfunded even though their significance is more appreciated today than it was during much of the latter half of the 20th century.  I would like to argue that another way of looking at the great issues for the future of plant science is to do so from the viewpoint of herbaria, and that will be the subject of my next post. 


Armstrong, E. M., Larson, E. R., Harper, H., Webb, C. R., Dohleman, F., Araya, Y., Meade, C., Feng, X., Mukoye, B., Levin, M. J., Lacombe, B., Bakirbas, A., Cardoso, A. A., Fleury, D., Gessler, A., Jaiswal, D., Onkokesung, N., Pathare, V. S., Phartyal, S. S., … Grierson, C. S. (2023). One hundred important questions facing plant science: An international perspective. New Phytologist, 238(2), 470–481.

Grierson, C. S., Barnes, S. R., Chase, M. W., Clarke, M., Grierson, D., Edwards, K. J., Jellis, G. J., Jones, J. D., Knapp, S., Oldroyd, G., Poppy, G., Temple, P., Williams, R., & Bastow, R. (2011). One hundred important questions facing plant science research. New Phytologist, 192(1), 6–12.

Larson, E. R., Armstrong, E. M., Harper, H., Knapp, S., Edwards, K. J., Grierson, D., Poppy, G., Chase, M. W., Jones, J. D. G., Bastow, R., Jellis, G., Barnes, S., Temple, P., Clarke, M., Oldroyd, G., & Grierson, C. S. (2023). One hundred important questions for plant science – reflecting on a decade of plant research. New Phytologist, 238(2), 464–469.

Specimens: Curators’ Choices

Mrs. Thring’s specimen of Centaurea montana, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

When herbarium curators select specimens to display, either virtually or physically, what kinds of specimens do they choose?  They might pick out “beautiful” specimens.  Clare Drinkell, a botanist at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew posted one with the comment:   “Sometimes a beautifully pressed specimen just stops me in my tracks.  Mrs Thring’s Centaurea montana collected in Switzerland ‘between the years 1845 and 1855.’”   Jo Wilbraham, curator of algae at the Natural History Museum, London also has a good eye, posting an “elaborately pressed” specimen of the seaweed Mesogloia vermiculata, collected by Edward George in 1895 on the Isle of Man.  When she was asked what was the “most exotic” specimen in the collection of over a million, she “immediately retrieved a folder of Claudea elegans,” including a specimen collected in Australia by the Irish botanist William Henry Harvey

Curators also have an eye for the unusual which explains why Wilbraham posted a very long specimen of Alaria that fills seven sheets—and still required folding the specimen.  It was again collected by Edward George, this time while he was on vacation in Whitby in 1866.  She adds: “Probably the largest specimen in Algae @NHM_Botany. . . . Imagining him trying to press this in a local guest house.”  Also displayed by many curators are their collections’ oldest specimens.  The very active herbarium at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville started a flurry of Tweets when it announced:  “What are your oldest #specimens? We used to think ours was a 𝘏𝘢𝘮𝘢𝘮𝘦𝘭𝘪𝘴 𝘷𝘪𝘳𝘨𝘪𝘯𝘪𝘢𝘯𝘢 collected in Ohio in 1836, but yesterday a student found this 𝘛𝘩𝘶𝘪𝘥𝘪𝘶𝘮 𝘱𝘩𝘪𝘭𝘪𝘣𝘦𝘳𝘵𝘪𝘪 collected in Germany in 1819!”  The herbarium at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Madrid countered with a specimen of Buffonia tenuifolia from 1789.  Then the State Herbarium of South Australia presented a fern Leptopteris hymenophylloides collected in 1768 in New Zealand on Captain James Cook’s first around-the-world voyage.  However, all were silenced when the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh Tweeted about  a 1697 Stoebe cutting from South Africa.

An announcement from the Marie-Victorin Herbarium at the Montreal Botanical Garden began with the statement:  “Digitization of biological collections has numerous advantages, including making discoveries of remarkable material hidden away within them!”  It went on to describe a find made by a volunteer entering label data:  a specimen of Carex longerostrata collected in 1779 on the Kamchatka Peninsula by David Nelson during Capt. James Cook’s third voyage. Until then, the oldest known specimens in the herbarium were collected by Andrew Holmes in Montreal in the early 1820s.  As the article notes:  “The Marie-Victorin Herbarium just got 40 years older!”  Earlier, the specimen had been in the collection from the National Museum of Natural History in Paris.  Digitization also led to the discovery of surprisingly old specimens in the herbarium of Claude Bernard University in Lyon.  It houses the massive collection of Roland Bonaparte (1858-1924), a great-grandnephew of Napoleon I.  All 760,000 of his specimens have recently been digitized, leading to the discovery of plants from 1799, and what the herbarium described as “a real surprise.” 

In all these announcements, there is a sense of  the thrill of finding something new and out of the ordinary.  It is one of the reasons I love herbaria; they are full of such wonders, and digitization is definitely bringing many of them to light, while also making them available for a much broader audience to appreciate.  Of course there are some unpleasant discoveries including what are termed “curation crimes,” with Scotch tape being among the most common.  At RBGE the tip of a very long leaf that wouldn’t fit on the front, was taped to the backLaura Jennings at Kew was distressed to find an inflorescence so covered in glue that it couldn’t be identified.  She also retweeted Brittany Sutherland’s crime-watch post on a pine specimen filed in an Illicium folder; her remark:  “This is why people are not allowed to reshelve their own library books.” 

The University of Reading’s complaint was the use of a ballpoint pen and a felt tip marker on a label, but with the comment that the specimen was “well-pressed.”  I was told by a curator of the Sloane collection that even a few of its stately pages were annotated with ballpoint pen.  Other crimes have also been reported by the NHM, including one where the statute of limitations may very well have run out.  At least two sheets from the herbarium of Miss C. M. Cautley have large gaps where specimens have obviously been cut out, paper and all.  These are included in a project called LoveLincsPlants where specimens collected in Lincolnshire were sent to NHM to be digitized and become part of the museum’s collection, but with a website for this collection so that in one way it retains its identity.  In addition, the project involves continued collecting to document the Lincolnshire area as it changes over time.

I’ll end not so much with a crime but a misadventure that the perpetrator readily admitted to.  Yvette Harvey, a skilled botanist and able curator of the Royal Horticulture Society’s herbarium, attempted to press hyacinth specimens.  She reported:  “First attempt at pressing hyacinths into blotting paper…. epic fail no. 1… specimens turned to mush and drying room had a rather exotic fragrance.”  The next day:  “Second attempt… 34 new specimens pressed in parchment and swapped cardboard corrugates for aluminum ones…. epic failure no. 2….. specimens turned to mush, drying room had an intoxicating aroma and I spent a morning removing mould from the corrugate.”  Harvey then decided to admire hyacinths from a distance.

Specimens: Multiples

Jany Renz’s specimens of Serapias orchids, Basel Herbarium at the University of Basel, Switzerland

It is considered good practice in herbaria today to place just one collection on a sheet.  This might include more than one plant, if they are small, but these are the result of one collection event, in one location.  That wasn’t always the case in the past, and even today some curators, conscious of the high cost of herbarium sheets, hate to see a great deal of space go to waste.  If the specimen is small, it might be positioned on a sheet so that there is room for at least one other specimen of the same species collected sometime in the future.  But if the plant is very small the temptation may remain, and result in rather interesting sheets.  At one point on Twitter, there seemed to be a contest to see who could come up with the most crowded sheet, with one entry from the Natural History Museum, London (NHM) a sheet with six specimens, followed by the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh with eight fern specimens.

Then NHM countered with a nine-specimen example, where the barcodes seemed more obvious than most of the plants.  They also upped the ante by noting that one of the specimens had been collected by the great British ecologist Charles Elton.  Later, the Royal Botanic Garden, Kew entered the fray with another nine-specimen sheet, this time of orchids, made more crowded with lengthy accompanying notes.  All these sheets were of flowering plant specimens.  When it comes to mosses, at least in the past, such examples multiply, with several packets attached to a sheet.  Now many curators favor envelopes or packets stored in boxes or drawers, and much work has been done, often in combination with digitization projects, to remove packets from sheets.

Sometimes it is not entire specimens that are pasted on sheets, but multiples of some plant part, often to show variation.  On a visit to the Basel Herbarium, the visual artist Bea Eggli saw pages of orchid flowers and Tweeted that “I always find a piece of my identity in herbaria.”  To me, this is rather cryptic, yet I can relate to it; the order and variation of form are intriguing (see image above).  The flowers from several species of Serapias were preserved by the botanist Jany Renz in the 17th century to show variation within and among species.  They were displayed by the Basel Herbarium during a 2022 conference to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the publication of Caspar Bauhin’s Flora of Basel.

A somewhat similar approach was taken more than 400 years later by Norman Douglas Simpson (1890-1974) with leaves of Hedera ivy species and cultivars.  This reminds me of work done in the tradition of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, with variations on a theme or type.  They display just how much variation there can be even within a single specimen, let alone in genera, and also different kinds of variation from size to wide variations in shape; these leaves vary from entire to having from three to five lobes in various forms. 

There is yet another play on the unity and variety theme.  That’s when collectors amass a number of specimens from the same area at the same time.  Most commonly, the aim is to provide duplicates, herbarium coinage, to be sent to other institutions as insurance against a future calamity, or in trade to build species or geographic diversity in a collection.  But in a post from his lab, Mason Heberling, curator of botany at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburg, discussed five specimens of large-flowered trillium (Trillium grandiflorum).  All of them remain in the herbarium because they are vouchers for a study the collectors, Frederick Utech and Mashashi Ohara, published along with Shoichi Kawano in 1984.  Each sheet shows a different stage in the species’ life cycle, from small seedlings to large plants with flowers.  Since this plant is a spring ephemeral, such a wide variety of stages is more likely to be found in one place.  Heberling notes that Utech and Ohara were ecologists, not taxonomists, so they were more interested in life history.  They found that many herbarium collections did not provide specimens that adequately documented different developmental stages.  So their collections were an attempt to collect differently, and their article an argument for why others should do the same so ecologists would find more valuable material in herbaria and thus become more likely to use what could be an excellent research resource. 

Heberling himself does ecological studies and has published a good review of why ecologists have tended to underutilize herbarium collections and what can be done to make them more useful to this community (Heberling, 2022).  Documenting life history is one strategy and obviously not a new one.  Also used in the past was something that botanist and corn expert Edgar Anderson and W.B. Turrell wrote about in 1935:  mass collections.  This involves supplementing specimens with large numbers of a particular plant part.  One example would be collecting regular specimens from two or three maple trees at a site, and then gathering one leaf from each of 30-50 trees.   In other cases, inflorescences or fruits might be saved.  These could allow studies of the frequency of variations, any discontinuities in these variations, and also correlations between variations.  In other words, multiples matter.


Anderson, E., & Turrill, W. B. (1935). Biometrical studies on herbarium material. Nature, 136 (3451), 986.

Heberling, J. M. (2022). Herbaria as big data sources of plant traits. International Journal of Plant Sciences, 183(2), 87–118.

Specimens: Sloane’s Collections of Herbaria

Specimen of Anemone thalictroides in the Sloane Herbarium, Natural History Museum, London

In the last post, I discussed Hans Sloane’s herbarium at the Natural History Museum, London (NHM) and work being done on exploring its contents.  In this post, I want to highlight some of the fascinating specimens found by Brad Scott in his doctoral research on the collection.  I’ll begin with medieval philosopher and theologian Thomas Aquinas, not the likeliest person to come to mind in relation to herbaria.  However, Scott found labels on James Cuninghame specimens cut from what Scott has identified as a 1567 edition of Aquinas.  Using scrap paper for labels or for pressing specimens was not uncommon since paper was often scarce particularly for a shipboard surgeon like Cuninghame who traveled twice to China.  The book may have been abandoned by him or someone else, and served as a ready source of scrap paper.  The fact that Scott hunted down the paper’s provenance suggests the thoroughness of his work.  He did something similar with scraps the physician and botanist Leonard Plukenet employed in making packets for seeds he attached to sheets along with the specimens.  In one case, the paper seems to be an advertisement for “Nendick’s P,” with the rest ripped off.  Scott couldn’t find the exact same version, but did discover another praising the benefits of Nendick’s Popular Pills for scurvy.  This speaks to aspects of material culture relating to specimens.  Beyond their scientific value, sheets often hold revelations about the culture of a period well beyond their scientific value.   

Another indication of careful research is a recent lecture Scott gave on George Handisyd, also a ship’s surgeon who was involved in plant collecting, particularly in South America and around the Straits of Magellan.  To flesh out the information on the specimens, Scott also examined ship logs and Handisyd’s correspondence to correlate items with specific dates and locations.  In another case, he examined the correspondence of Charles Preston to learn more about a package of 70 mosses that the Edinburgh botanist had sent to Sloane.  And going even farther afield, Scott went to the French Academy of Sciences in Paris to look at an album of specimens from Aleppo, Syria to compare it to a similar album in the Sloane Herbarium.  It turned out that the two were almost identical not only in binding, but in the specimens included and how they were arranged.  Apparently they were both created by an apothecary in Aleppo, Jean Bigot, and possibly brought to Paris by the traveler and botanist Jean Thévenot and sold to collector like Sloane who later donated one of his two copies to the Academy. 

William Courten, also known as Charleton, created some of the tiniest labels in the Sloane Herbarium.  Besides the normal labels with species information, in some cases each specimen—and there were often several on a page—had a tiny dot of paper with a cipher he used.  In other cases, ciphers were affixed to the sheets.  Scott has been able to decode many of them and found that they often cite from whom Courten received the specimens or the geographic locations where they were collected.  He was apparently secretive in part because he was hounded by creditors, but he may also have found that this shorthand saved space and time. 

Scott is not the only one who has been finding interesting items in the Sloane collection.  The NHM botanist Sandy Knapp posted about pages of blighted leaves she saw along with Mark Carine, the NHM curator responsible for the Sloane collection and a major investigator for the Sloane Lab project (see last post).  This might not seem like an exciting find, but think about it:  an opportunity to study what was obviously a serious infection from centuries ago.  And there are other examples of non-plants that made their way into the volumes.  Scott reported on finding hake egg cases and even a starfish.  I remember reading about a woodpecker scull secreted in one volume (Jarvis, 2014), and there are also a number of cases of insects not infesting sheets after the fact, but purposefully placed.  Mark Carine notes that the insects often seem to be used as decoration and are not labeled.  However, he did post on a page where the insects were labeled and most of the plants weren’t.  In the British Library, one of Sloane’s books on insects has specimens pasted into the relevant pages, suggesting it’s impossible to sort a collection like this into absolute categories. 

The Sloane collection is definitely full of surprises, and I am sure there are more to be unearthed because what one researcher might find uninteresting, might very well tickle the fancy of another.  A page fragment from Thomas Aquinas comes to mind as something that could definitely be valued differently by different scholars.  I’ll close with one specimen I found interesting almost in its nonexistence.  It is a typotype specimen for Anemone thalictroides named by Leonard Plukenet and recognized as a species by Linnaeus.  Brad Scott describes it as “barely existent type specimen” (see photo above). 

Note: Much of the information for this post came from Brad Scott’s Twitter feed @Trichocolea.  I realize that Twitter is now a platform with many issues, to say the least.  However, as a recent Nature article noted (Insall, 2023), scientists have found it a useful way of sharing information and ideas.  I’ve learned so much from Twitter posts like Scott’s and many others, that I am not ready to give up that link.  I remain @flannerm, though I’m also on Mastodon at


Insall, R. (2023). Science Twitter—Navigating change in science communication. Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology, 1–2.

Jarvis, C. E., & Cooper, J. H. (2014). Maidstone’s woodpecker – an unexpected bird specimen in the herbarium of Sir Hans Sloane. Archives of Natural History, 41(2), 230–239.

Specimens: The Sloane Herbarium

Portrait of Hans Sloane in seaweed specimens alongside his initials and date; pages from the Sloane Herbarium, Natural History Museum, London.

Over a year ago I wrote a series of posts on herbarium specimens (1,2,3,4) I found particularly interesting.  I’ve encountered many more since then, so it’s time to take up the topic again.  One particularly rich mine is the 265-volume herbarium of Hans Sloane (1660-1753) in the Natural History Museum, London (NHM).  The museum’s principle herbarium curator Mark Carine is one of the investigators involved in the Sloane Lab which aims at digitally linking the Sloane collections at the NHM, the British Library (BL), and the British Museum (BM).  The latter was founded to house the specimens—animals and vegetable—as well as the books, coins, art works, and anthropological materials Sloane had amassed (Delbourgo, 2017).  Eventually the BM’s growing collections were dispersed to new institutions:  the NHM in the 19th century and the BL in the 20th

These rearrangements made sense organizationally, but caused logistical problems for researchers.  For example, after a career in digital publishing, Brad Scott is now a doctoral student at the University of London studying the Sloane Herbarium as part of Sloane Lab.  However, if he wants to consult many of Sloane’s papers, he has to go to the British Library.  Reconnecting Sloane is working on an infrastructure for digitization of the various collections to make this rich trove of material available to a much large audience, not only of researchers but others who are living in a world very much shaped by Sloane and his peers.  He was longtime president of the Royal Society, so he influenced scientific inquiry and exerted political sway over the economic development of Britain’s growing colonization efforts.

All this can be seen through the lens of the Sloane Herbarium, and Brad Scott is going through its volumes, examining the more than 100 collections represented there.  He estimates that only about 3% of the specimens were actually gathered by Sloane.  Most of these are from early in his career while he was studying to be a physician, first in England and then in France, where he was taught by the great French botanist Joseph Pitton de Tournefort.  A few years later he went Jamaica as physician to the governor and collected plants and animals with the assistance of locals, including enslaved and indigenous peoples.  But as his interest in plants grew, so did his collections.  Some were given him by friends at times as bequests, many were purchased, and others were acquired in trade.  While the herbarium specimens are primarily pre-Linnaean, and most do not include updated nomenclature, they are still valuable in documenting how plants moved geographically.  Also, some of them may be sources of DNA that could shed light on plant traits and evolutionary changes.   

A significant portion of Sloane’s wealth came from plantations in Jamaica that had been left to his wife by her first husband.  This wealth was dependent on the labor of African enslaved persons as well as on indigenous peoples, some of whom were also enslaved.  Since he was interested in the increasing number of exotic plants being discovered around the world, he also had many dealings with those involved in shipping and commerce, some involved in slave trade (Murphy, 2020).  So Sloane’s collection can definitely be seen through the lens of exploitation and colonization, making it rich in the kind of information being sought by those involved in what has become known as decolonizing collections (Das & Lowe, 2018). 

The present studies are hardly the first on the herbarium.  In the late 19th century, a botanist at the NHM James Britten compiled an annotated list of the herbaria in Sloane’s collection along with brief biographies of the principal contributors.  This work was never published.  A later NHM botanist James Edgar Dandy revised and added to the manuscript which appeared in 1958.  It is still the premier reference on the collection, and Scott uses it in his research, making further revisions.  There is no other comprehensive catalogue of the herbarium, but what is invaluable is Sloane’s own copy of John Ray’s three-volume Historia Plantarum, annotated by Sloane with the volume and page number for each species he had in his collection, with additions for those plants not listed in Ray.  It is still used to this day, along with an annotated copy of Sloane’s Natural History of Jamaica that has the same kinds of notations, along with later ones written by the Carl Linnaeus’s student Daniel Solander who was hired by the BM to update the names with Linnaean nomenclature (Rose, 2018). 

It has taken me so long to set the stage for Scott’s work that I will have to dig into it in the next post.  I realize that I haven’t written about even one individual specimen in a post purportedly on specimens.  So I’ll end with two that were Tweeted about by Mark Carine.  They may not be of much scientific value but they are definitely interesting (see above).  The first is apparently a portrait of Sloane done in seaweed, and the other has his initials and the year 1707.  They seem like the kind of thing created in the mid-19th century when there was a craze for algae collecting and preparing scrapbooks of specimens, sometimes with a greater emphasis on design than on science.  I suspect Sloane got a kick out of these, though who made them is unknown.  This may not be the most significant outcome from the Sloane Lab, but I think it is a great reminder that there can be joy and humor in herbaria as well as botanical and cultural revelations.


Das, S., & Lowe, M. (2018). Nature read in black and white: Decolonial approaches to interpreting natural history collections. Journal of Natural Science Collections, 6, 4–14.

Delbourgo, J. (2017). Collecting the World: The Life and Curiosity of Hans Sloane. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Murphy, K. S. (2020). James Petiver’s ‘kind friends’ and ‘curious persons’ in the Atlantic World: Commerce, colonialism and collecting. Notes and Records: The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science, 74(2), 259–274.

Rose, E. D. (2018). Specimens, slips and systems: Daniel Solander and the classification of nature at the world’s first public museum, 1753–1768. The British Journal for the History of Science, 51(2), 1–33.

Taxon and Nomenclature

Turland et al., 2018, published by Koeltz Botanical Books

In my last post in this series (1,2,3) on articles in Taxon, the journal of the International Association for Plant Taxonomy, I want to discuss a group of “perspective” articles on a thorny nomenclatural issue.  The first, by Gideon Smith and Estrela Figueiredo (2022) of Nelson Mandela University in South Africa, dealt with the scientific plant names that refer to people or ideas that can be considered offensive, particularly in a post-colonial context.  The example they use is the root “rhodes-“ to commemorate Cecil Rhodes who made a fortune from diamond mining in South Africa and was prime minister of the Cape Colony from 1890-1896.  He was a symbol of British imperialism and exploitation of indigenous people.  The authors used this example because it was related to a South African movement begun in 2015 called “Rhodes Must Fall,” referring to a statue on the University of Cape Town campus that was eventually removed.  However, the movement developed beyond that and came to embody disposing of lingering reminders of colonialism in other contexts, including botany.  They also mentioned that the Portuguese dictator Antonio Salazar is commemorated in the name, Kalanchoe salazarii, native to the former Portuguese colony of Angola.  In addition they cited an earlier article (Knapp et al., 2020) that brought up the problematic word, caffra, derived from the Arabic for infidel, that is considered an awful racial slur in Africa yet appears in various forms in many botanical epithets. 

Smith and Figueiredo note that the present International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (Turland and Wiersema, 2018) does not allow for a name change for reasons of offensive language.  They call for a change in the code to address this problem, and in fact, a proposal for such a change was published in the December 2021 issue of Taxon.  (This article was published online after the Rhodes article, but there were difficulties publishing paper editions during COVID, so not all the paper issues were published in sequence).  It was written by two Australia systematists, Timothy Hammer and Kevin Thiele.  They cited the examples of caffra and of hibbertia, commemorating George Hibbert a British slave trader and owner who was also a strident anti-abolitionist.  They proposed that the language in the code stating that a name or epithet cannot be rejected “merely because it is inappropriate or disagreeable, or because another is preferable” be changed.  Also, a new article should be added stating that a legitimate name or its epithet may be rejected as culturally offensive or inappropriate.  The actual proposal gives more detail but that is its essence. 

In the April 2022 issue of Taxon, Sergei Mosyakin, director of the Kholodny Institute of Botany in Ukraine wrote a rebuttal to Smith and Figueiredo.  He notes that his country has suffered from colonialism and ethnic oppression, but argues that dealing with such history through nomenclatural change is fraught with difficulties.  Allowing changes could lead to a “slippery slope” and looks like “a new form of politically motivated scientific totalitarianism and censorship” (p. 251).  Mosyakin goes on at some length about the difficulties in evaluating what is inappropriate and how this is to be decided.  He makes valid points but overall his language is more strident than that in the other articles, and needless to say it provoked a response.

The next article in what was becoming a series was published in the December 2022 issue of Taxon and was written by Smith, Figueiredo, Hammer and Thiele.  It was brief, measured, and to the point, though they do write that Mosyakin “severely misrepresented” their views and proposals.  They address three of his contentions, the first being the slippery slope argument.  The Hammer and Thiele proposal for amending the Code included the creation of a permanent committee, like several others within the Nomenclatural Section, to deal with proposed changes in an orderly fashion.  This would be in keeping with the standard way changes are handled.  The authors admit that there will be some proposed changes that might be considered in a “gray area” between extremes, but contend that this is true of most complex issues and shouldn’t be an argument against dealing with them at all.

The authors also reject the idea that their proposal involves politically motivated censorship.  They see as “far-fetched” the view that the Nomenclatural Section will be conducting “purges” or become a totalitarian regime:  “In our view, if a community of end-users formally decides that a mechanism should be established to restrict the use of some scientific names and epithets for the greater good, this process is not ‘censorship’” (p. 934).  Finally, they don’t think their proposals “erase history” because of how nomenclatural change works.  The previous names do not disappear, but rather, move into synonymy.  This move doesn’t expunge the name but acknowledges that it is no longer considered culturally acceptable.  I think this is the strongest of their arguments.  Whether the change will lead to a slippery slope and what some would consider censorship will only be determined if the Code is amended and proposals for name rejections considered.  In the meantime, this discussion is a fruitful one; it fits well into the much larger conversation about efforts to move toward decolonial natural history collections and beyond that to decolonial societies. 

Since I wrote the first draft of this post, I’ve come upon two more articles on this subject in the December 2022 issue of Taxon, one by Mosyakin and one by Thiele et al.  Not surprisingly they don’t change their positions but do elaborate on them, especially Mosyakin.  He gives several examples of where name change could lead and what new problems it could produce in the future.


Knapp, S., Vorontsova, M. S., & Turland, N. J. (2020). Indigenous Species Names in Algae, Fungi and Plants: A Comment on Gillman & Wright (2020). TAXON, 69(6), 1409–1410.

Smith, G. F., & Figueiredo, E. (2022). “Rhodes-” must fall: Some of the consequences of colonialism for botany and plant nomenclature. TAXON, 71(1), 1–5.

Hammer, T. A., & Thiele, K. R. (2021). (119–122) Proposals to amend Articles 51 and 56 and Division III, to allow the rejection of culturally offensive and inappropriate names. TAXON, 70(6), 1392–1394.

Mosyakin, S. L. (2022). If “Rhodes-” must fall, who shall fall next? TAXON, 71(2), 249–255.

Smith, G. F., Figueiredo, E., Hammer, T. A., & Thiele, K. R. (2022). Dealing with inappropriate honorifics in a structured and defensible way is possible. TAXON, 71(5), 933–935.

Mosyakin, S. L. (2022). Defending Art. 51 of the Code: Comments on Smith & al. (2022). TAXON, 71(6), 1141–1150.

Thiele, K. R., Smith, G. F., Figueiredo, E., & Hammer, T. A. (2022). Taxonomists have an opportunity to rid botanical nomenclature of inappropriate honorifics in a structured and defensible way. TAXON, 71(6), 1151–1154.

*The references are given in the order in which they were first published that is, online.