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Plant Exploration and Introduction

Tracer Bullet 11-4

Graphic:  a painting of small, elongated flowers with large green leaves, and a tree branch.
Kiri branch with flowers and leaves.
By Megata Morikaga.

From the Prints & Photographs Catalog,
Library of Congress



Plant exploration and introduction is one of the oldest activities of mankind. Since the dawn of civilization, individuals have gathered new and useful plants from far away places. Seeds and seedlings were routinely included as part of the household as people explored new territories and settled in new lands. While the early colonists subsisted on corn, squash, peas, wild fruits and game of the Native Americans, seed-carrying travelers, immigrants, explorers, and missionaries enhanced the colonist's diet with imported grains and plants, transported great distances in the holds of sailing ships, where temperature, bilge water, vermin and mold took their toll. From exploration and using their European connections and explorations, citizen farmers and founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson acquired and planted new varieties of plants and trees, keeping detailed accounts of their growth and hardiness.

Today, plant hunters scour the rain forest, desert, mountain, and the tundra for plants that might contain a chemical to fight a fatal disease or be used to create a new product. Because genetic diversity is key to maintaining and improving agriculture, today's botanists collect seeds to preserve an endangered species, to improve an existing food plant, or to develop a disease-resistant variety. As wilderness and rainforest habitats are eliminated, plants and diversity disappear, and the role of the plant hunter becomes more critical. This compilation supersedes TB 83-5 and is intended for those who wish to learn something about the history of plant exploration and introduction through a review of the literature available in the collections of the Library of Congress. Invasive Species (TB 05-3) and Biodiversity (TB 97-5) may also be of interest to those using Plant Exploration and Introduction. Not meant to be a comprehensive bibliography, this guide is designed--as the name of the series implies--to put the reader "on target."



Daisey, Peggy. Promoting interest in plant biology with biographies of plant hunters. American biology teacher, v. 58, Oct. 1996: 396-406.
   Bibliography: p. 404-406.

Kaplan, J. Kim. Conserving the world's plants. Agricultural research, v. 46, Sept. 1998: 4-9.
   Pamphlet box <SciRR>

Milius, Susan. Raiders of the lost potato: as genetic diversity dwindles, botanists scour the globe for rare plants. International wildlife, v. 21, Mar./Apr. 1991: 14-17.

Ryerson, Knowles A. A survey of the introduction of various plants into the United States. Agricultural history, v. 50, Jan. 1976: 248-257.



Subject Headings used by the Library of Congress, under which books on plant exploration and introduction can be located in most card, book, and online catalogs, include the following:

Highly Relevant








Aitken, Richard. Botanical riches: stories of botanical exploration. Aldershot, Eng., Burlington, VT, Lund Humphries, 2007. 243 p.
   Bibliography: p. 235.
   QK5.A38 2007 <SciRR>

Coats, Alice M. The plant hunters: being a history of the horticultural pioneers, their quests, and their discoveries from the Renaissance to the twentieth century. New York, McGraw Hill, 1970, c1969. 400 p.
   First published in 1969 under the title, The quest for plants.
   Bibliography: p. 379-384.
   SB404.5.C63 1970 <SciRR>

Dodge, Bertha S. (Bertha Sanford). It started in Eden: how the plant-hunters and the plants they found changed the course of history. New York, McGraw-Hill, c1979. 288 p.
   Bibliography: p. 271-276.

Eifert, Virginia Louise Snider. Tall trees and far horizons; adventures and discoveries of early botanists in America. With photos., maps, and drawings by the author. New York, Dodd, Mead, 1965. 301 p.
   Bibliography: p. 287-292.
   QK26.E35 1965

Fry, Carolyn. The plant hunters: the adventures of the world’s greatest botanical explorers. London, Andre Deutsch, 2009. 63 p.
   “Kew 250th, plants, people, possibilities.”
   Contains removable facsimile documents.
   In slip case.
   QK61.F79 2009 <SciRR>

Haughton, Claire Shaver. Green immigrants: the plants that transformed America. New York, Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, c1978. 450 p.
   SB108.U5H68 1978 <SciRR>

Healey, Ben. The plant hunters. New York, Scribner, 1975. 214 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   QK26.H37 <SciRR>

Howell, Catherine Herbert. Flora mirabilis: how plants have shaped world knowledge, health, wealth, and beauty. Foreword by Peter H. Raven. Washington, National Geographic, c2009. 255 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   QK15.H695 2009 <SciRR>

Lemmon, Kenneth. The golden age of plant hunters. London, Phoenix House, 1968. 229 p.
   Bibliography: p. 219-220.

Munger, Susan H. Common to this country: botanical discoveries of Lewis and Clark. New York, Artisan, 2003. 128 p.
   Bibliography: p. 126.
   QK133.M86 2003 <SciRR>

Musgrave, Toby, and Will Musgrave. An empire of plants: people and plants that changed the World. London, Cassell; New York, Distributed in the United States of America by Sterling Pub., 2000. 192 p.
   Bibliography: p. 188.
   SB71.M87 2000

Reveal, James L. Gentle conquest: the botanical discovery of North America with illustrations from the Library of Congress. Washington, Starwood Pub., c1992. 160 p.
   Bibliography: p. 158.
   QK21.N6R48 1992 <SciRR>

Spongberg, Stephen A. A reunion of trees: the discovery of exotic plants and their introduction into North American and European landscapes. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1990. 270 p.
   Bibliography: p. 245-252.
   SB435.65.S66 1990 <SciRR>

Ward, Bobby J. The plant hunter’s garden: the new explorers and their discoveries. Portland, Timber Press, 2004. 340 p.
   Bibliography: p. 315-330.
   SB454.W248 2004 <SciRR>



Brayshaw, T. C. Plant collecting for the amateur. Victoria, B.C., Royal British Columbia Museum, c1996. 44 p.
   Bibliography: p. 35-43.
   QK61.B65 1996

Clarke, Philip A. Aboriginal plant collectors: botanists and Australian Aboriginal people in the nineteenth century. Dural, N.S.W., Rosenberg Publishing, 2008. 191 p.
   “Endnotes”: p. 152-167.
   Bibliography: p. 168-179.
   QK46.5.H85C583 2008 <SciRR>

Dunmire, William W. Gardens of New Spain: how Mediterranean plants and foods changed America. Austin, University of Texas Press, 2004. 375 p.
   Bibliography: p. 343-362.
   S451.7.D86 2004

Flanagan, Mark, and Tony Kirkham. Plants from the edge of the world: new explorations in the Far East. Portland, Timber Press, c2005. 312 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   QK379.5.E38F59 2005

Gribbin, Mary, and John R. Gribbin. Flower hunters. Oxford, New York, Oxford University Press, 2008. 332 p.
   Bibliography: p. 312-316.
   QK26.G75 2008 <SciRR>

Knapp, Sandra. Plant discoveries: a botanist’s voyage through plant exploration. Buffalo, NY, Firefly Books, 2003. 336 p.
   Originally published as Potted histories: an artistic voyage through plant exploration. London, Scriptorum Editions, 2003.
   Bibliography: p. 330-331.
   QK50.K59 2003 <SciRR>

Knoblock, Irving W. (Irving Wallace). The plant collectors of northern Mexico. East Lansing, Latin American Studies Center, Michigan State University, 1979. 98 p. (Latin American Studies Center monograph series, no. 17)
   Bibliography: p. 76-83.

Lyte, Charles. The plant hunters. London, Orbis Pub., 1983. 191 p.
   Bibliography: p. 186-187.
   QK26.L9 1983

Plant hunting for Kew. Edited by F. Nigel Hepper; foreword by Sir David Attenborough. London, H.M.S.O., 1989. 222 p.
   Bibliography: p. 214.
   QK5.P55 1989

Wulf, Andrea. Founding gardeners: the revolutionary generation, nature, and the shaping of the American nation. New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 2011. 349 p.
   Bibliography: p. 303-325.
   SB451.3.W85 2011 <SciRR>



Correspondence, Reminiscences and Biographical Material

Andrews, Henry N. (Henry Nathaniel). The fossil hunters: in search of ancient plants. Ithaca, NY, Cornell University Press, c1980. 421 p.
   Bibliography: p. 399-416.

Bartram, John, and William Bartram. John and William Bartram's America: selections from the writings of the Philadelphia naturalists. Edited with an introduction by Helen Gere Cruickshank. New York, Devin-Adair Co., 1957. 418 p. (American naturalists series)

Bartram, William. Travels through North & South Carolina, Georgia, east & west Florida, the Cherokee country .... Introduction by James Dickey. New York, Penguin Books, 1988. 414 p.
   Reprint of 1791 ed.
    F213.B282 1988

Bowden, Jean K. John Lightfoot, his work and travels: with a biographical introduction and a catalogue of the Lightfoot Herbarium. Kew, Bentham-Moxon Trust, Royal Botanic Gardens; Pittsburgh, Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, Carnegie Mellon University, 1989. 254 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   QK31.L54B68 1989

Collinson, Peter. Brothers of the spade: correspondence of Peter Collinson, of London, and of John Custis, of Williamsburg, Virginia, 1734-1746. By E. G. Swem. Barre, MA, Barre Gazette, 1957. 196 p.
   “Reprinted from the Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society [v. 58, pt.1] copyright 1949.”
   “Bibliographical note”: p. 97-131.
   Bibliographical references included in “Footnotes”: p. 145-147.
   QK31.C7A4 1957

Collinson, Peter. "Forget not mee & my garden...": selected letters, 1725-1768 of Peter Collinson, F.R.S. Edited and with an introduction by Alan W. Armstrong. Philadelphia, American Philosophical Society, 2002. 300 p. (Memoirs of the American Philosophical Society, v. 241)
   Bibliography: p. 283-285.
   Q11.P612, v. 241

Cox, E. H. M. Plant-hunting in China. With an introduction by Peter Cox. Hong Kong, New York, Oxford University Press, 1986. 230 p.
   QK21.C6C68 1986

Desmond, Ray. Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker: traveller and plant collector. Preface by Ghillean Prance. Woodbridge, Antique Collectors' Club with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, 1999. 286 p.
   Bibliography: p. 275-278.
   QK31.H78D47 1999

Fairchild, David, Elizabeth Kay, and Alfred Kay. The world was my garden; travels of a plant explorer. London, C. Scribner's Sons, Ltd., 1938. 494 p.

Fletcher, Harold Roy, Frank Ludlow, and George Sherriff. A quest of flowers: the plant explorations of Frank Ludlow and George Sherriff; told from their diaries and other occasional writings. Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, c1975. 387 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.

Hall, Norman. Botanists of the eucalypts: short biographies of people who have named eucalypts, whose names have been given to species or who have collected type material. Melbourne, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, 1977. 160 p.
   Bibliography: p. 147-148.
   QK26 .H27

Harvey, Athelstan George. Douglas of the fir, a biography of David Douglas, botanist. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1947. 290 p.
   Bibliography: p. 261-275.

Howard, Richard A. (Richard Alden). Charles Wright in Cuba, 1856-1867. Alexandria, VA, Chadwyck-Healey, 1988. 90 p.
   “Four archival quality silver-halide positive microfiches that accompany the book available in HSS/MicroRR.”
   Bibliography: p. 77-80.
   QK31.W75H68 1988

Low, Hugh. A botanist in Borneo: Hugh Low’s Sarawak journals, 1844-1846. Edited and introduced by R. H. W. Reece and with notes on Hugh Low’s plant portraits by P. J. Cribb. Kota Kinabalu, Natural History Publications (Borneo), 2002. 206 p.
   “Works by Sir Hugh Low”: p. 29-30.
    Bibliography: p. 30-33.
   QK31.L68A3 2002

Lyte, Charles. Frank Kingdon-Ward: the last of the great plant hunters. London, J. Murray, 1989. 218 p.
   Bibliography: p. 211-212.
   QK31.K47L98 1989

McLean, Brenda. George Forrest: plant hunter. Woodbridge, Antique Collectors' Club in association with the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, c2004. 239 p.
   Bibliography: p. 228.
   QK31.F72M38 2004

McVaugh, Rogers. Edward Palmer, plant explorer of the American West. Sakonnet, RI, Theophrastus, 1977. 430 p.
   Reprint of the 1956 ed. by University of Oklahoma Press.
   Bibliography: p. 403-420.
   QK31.P3M3 1977

Mee, Margaret. Margaret Mee: in search of flowers of the Amazon forests: diaries of an English artist reveal the beauty of the vanishing rainforest. Edited by Tony Morrison; foreword by H.R.H., the Duke of Edinburgh. Appreciations from Ghillean T. Prance, Richard Evans Schultes, Roberto Burle Marx. Woodbridge, Suffolk, Eng., Nonesuch Expeditions, 1988 (1989 printing). 302 p.
   Bibliography: p. 301.
   F2546.M545 1988

Noltie, Henry J. Robert Wight and the botanical drawings of Rungiah & Govindoo. Edinburgh, Royal Botanic Garden, 2007. 3 v. QK31.W48N66 2007
   Includes bibliographical references.
   QK31.W48N66 2007

Potter, Jennifer. Strange blooms: the curious lives and adventures of the John Tradescants. London, Atlantic, 2006. 464 p.
   Bibliography: p. 430-442.
   QH26.P65 2006

Pringle, Peter. The murder of Nikolai Vavilov: the story of Stalin’s persecution of one of the great scientists of the twentieth century. New York, Simon & Schuster, 2008. 370 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   SB63.V38P35 2008

Reginald Farrer: Dalesman, planthunter, gardener. Edited by John Illingworth and Jane Routh. [Lancaster], Centre for North-West Regional Studies, University of Lancaster, 1991. 102 p. (Centre for North-West Regional Studies, University of Lancaster. Occasional paper, no. 19)
   Includes bibliographical references.
   QK31.F26R44 1991

Rosengarten, Frederic. Wilson Popenoe: agricultural explorer, educator, and friend of Latin America. Lawai, Kauai, HI, National Tropical Botanical Garden, c1991. 182 p.
   Bibliography: p. 173-176.
   SB63.P56R67 1991

Savage, Henry, and Elizabeth J. Savage. André and François André Michaux. Charlottesville, University Press of Virginia, 1986. 435 p.
   Bibliography: p. 411-420.
   QK31.M45S28 1986

Short, P. S. (Philip S.). In pursuit of plants: experiences of nineteenth & early twentieth century plant collectors. Portland, Timber Press, 2004. 351 p.
   Bibliography: p. 335-344.
   QK26.S56 2004

Sutton, S. B. (Silvia Barry). Charles Sprague Sargent and the Arnold Arboretum. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1970. 382 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.

Taylor, Walter Kingsley, and E. M. Norman. André Michaux in Florida: an eighteenth century botanical journey. Gainesville, University Press of Florida, c2002. 246 p.
   Bibliography: p. 217-223.
   QK31.M45T38 2002

Tiehm, Arnold. Nevada vascular plant types and their collectors. Bronx, New York Botanical Garden, c1996. 104 p. (Memoirs of the New York Botanical Garden, v. 77)
   QK1.N525, v. 77

Tyler-Whittle, Michael Sidney. The plant hunters, being an examination of collecting, with an account of the careers & the methods of a number of those who have searched the world for wild plants. New York, Lyons & Burford, c1997, c1970. 281 p.
   Originally published in Philadelphia by Chilton Book Co., 1977.
   Bibliography: p. 268-272.
   QK15.T95 1997

Voss, Edward G. (Edward Groesbeck). Botanical beachcombers and explorers: pioneers of the 19th century in the upper Great Lakes. Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Herbarium, 1978. 100 p. (Contributions from the University of Michigan Herbarium, v. 13)
   Bibliography: p. 91-97.
   QK1.M545a, v. 13

Ward, Francis Kingdon. In the land of the blue poppies: the collected plant hunting writings of Frank Kingdon Ward. Edited and with an introduction by Tom Christopher. New York, Modern Library, 2003. 243 p.
   QK5.W27 2003

Wilson, Ernest Henry. China, mother of gardens. New York, B. Blom, 1971. 408 p.
   Reprint of 1929 ed. DS710.W53 1971
   Published in 1913 and 1977 as A Naturalist in western China.

Conservation and Diversity

Darwin’s harvest: new approaches to the origins, evolution, and conservation of crops. Edited by Timothy J. Motley, Nyree Zerega, and Hugh Cross. New York, Columbia University Press, c2006. 390 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   SB106.O74D37 2006

Fisher, John. The origins of garden plants. London, Constable, 1982. 338 p.
   Bibliography: p. 319-325.
   SB404.5.F57 1982

Fowler, Cary. Unnatural selection: technology, politics, and plant evolution. Switzerland, Langhorne, PA, Gordon and Breach, c1994. 317 p. (International studies in global change, v. 6)
   Bibliography: p. 283-299.
   SB123.5.F68 1994

Hancock, James F. Plant evolution and the origin of crop species. 2nd ed. Wallingford, Oxon, Eng., New York, CABI Pub., c2004. 313 p.
   Bibliography: p. 251-305.
   SB106.O74H36 2004 <SciRR>

Klose, Nelson. Ameria’s crop heritage: the history of foreign plant introduction by the Federal Government. Ames, Iowa State College Press, 1950. 156 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.

Plant conservation genetics. Robert J. Henry, editor. New York, Food Products Press, c2006. 180 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   QK981.7.P58 2006 <SciRR>


The Arctic world: its plants, animals, and natural phenomena. With a historical sketch of Arctic discovery, down to the polar expedition: 1875-76. London, New York, T. Nelson and Sons, [1876?] 339 p.
   G608.A67 FT MEADE
   "On cover: New and enl. edition, with a narrative of the British polar expedition of 1875-76, and other recent voyages."

Coville, Frederick V. (Frederick Vernon), and Josephine Adelaide Clark. Botany of the Death Valley expedition: report on the botany of the expedition sent out in 1891 by the U. S. Department of Agriculture to make a biological survey of the region of Death Valley, California. Washington, Govt. Print. Off., 1893. 363 p. (U. S. Dept. of Agriculture. Division of Botany. Contributions from the U. S. National herbarium, v. IV)
   Bibliography: p. 284-300.
   QK1.U5, v. 4

Earle, A. Scott, and James L. Reveal. Lewis and Clark's green world: the expedition and its plants. Helena, MT, Farcountry Press, c2003. 256 p.
   Bibliography: p. 243-244.
   QK133.E27 2003

Fairchild, David. Exploring for plants: from notes of the Allison Vincent Armour expeditions for the United States Department of Agriculture, 1925, 1926, and 1927. New York, The Macmillan Company, 1931. 591 p.
   SB109.F18 1931
   “Published June 1930; reprinted, January 1931.”

Frémont, John Charles. Report of the exploring expedition to the Rocky Mountains in the year 1842, and to Oregon and north California in the years 1843-44. Under the orders of Col. J. J. Abert, Chief of the Topographical Bureau. Printed by order of the House of Representatives. Washington, Blair and Rives, Printers, 1845. 583 p.
   F592.F83 <Rare Book RR>
   Full text available online at Hathi Trust (

Gentry, Howard Scott. Land plants collected by the Allan Hancock Atlantic Expedition of 1939. Los Angeles, Univ. of Southern California Press, 1948. 46 p. (Allan Hancock Atlantic Expedition. Report, no. 6)
   Bibliography: p. 36.
   Q115.L65, no. 6

Lack, H. Walter. Alexander von Humboldt and the botanical exploration of the Americas. Munich, New York, Prestel, 2009. 278 p.
   Bibliography: p. 271-272.
   In Process

Lewis, Meriwether, and William Clark. History of the expedition under the command of Captains Lewis and Clark, to the sources of Missouri, thence across the Rocky Mountains, and down the river Columbia to the Pacific Ocean: performed during the years 1804, 1805, 1806, by order of the government of the United States. Prepared for the press by Paul Allen, esq. Rev., and abridged by the omission of unimportant details, with an introduction and notes, by Archibald M'Vickar. New York, Harper & Brothers, 1868. 2 v.
   The appendix contains "farther enumeration and description of the quadrupeds, birds, fishes, and plants noticed during the expedition, etc."
   Full text available online at
   F592.4 1868

McKelvey, Susan Delano. Botanical exploration of the trans-Mississippi west, 1790-1850. Foreword by Joseph Ewan. Corvallis, Oregon State University Press, c1991. 1144 p.
   Reprint. Originally published in Jamaica Plain, MA, by the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   QK5.M3 1991

McVaugh, Rogers. Botanical results of the Sessé & Mociño Expedition (1787-1803). I, Summary of excursions and travels. Ann Arbor, University Herbarium, University of Michigan, 1977. p. 97-195. (Contributions from the University of Michigan Herbarium, v. 11, no. 3)
   Bibliography: p. 193-194.
   QK1.M545a, v. 11, no. 3

Renner, Susanne. A history of botanical exploration in Amazonian Ecuador, 1739-1988. Washington, Smithsonian Institution, 1993. 39 p. (Smithsonian contributions to botany, no. 82)
   Bibliography: p. 35-39.
   QK1.S2747, no. 82

Riddell, John Leonard. A long ride in Texas: the explorations of John Leonard Riddell. Edited, with an introduction by James O. Breeden. College Station, Texas A&M University Press, c1994. 115 p. (The Centennial series of the Association of Former Students, Texas A&M University, no. 51)
   Includes bibliographical references.
   F392.T47L66 1994

Steele, Arthur Robert. Flowers for the king: the expedition of Ruiz and Pavon and the Flora of Peru. Durham, NC, Duke University Press, 1964. 378 p.
   Bibliography: p. 338-357.

Walker, Egbert H. (Egbert Hamilton). Plants collected by R. C. Ching in southern Mongolia and Kansu Province, China. Washington, U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1941. p. 563-675. (Smithsonian Institution. U. S. National Museum. Contributions from the U. S. National Herbarium, v. 28, pt. 4)
   "Report of the expedition, by R. C. Ching": p. 573-593.
   "Principal publications on Kansu, mostly botanical": p. 566-568.
   QK1.U5, v. 28

Young Readers

Moore, Heidi. Joseph Banks. Chicago, Raintree, c2009. 48 p.
   Bibliography: p. 46-47.
   QH31.B19M66 2009

Patent, Dorothy Hinshaw. Plants on the trail with Lewis and Clark. New York, Clarion Books, c2003. 104 p.
   Bibliography: p. 88-90.
   F592.7.P376 2003

Ray, Deborah Kogan. The flower hunter: William Bartram, America’s first naturalist. New York, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, c2004. 1 v.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   QK26.R38 2004

Ross, Michael Elsohn. Flower watching with Alice Eastwood. Minneapolis, Carolrhoda Books, c1997. 48 p.
   Bibliography: p. 47.
   QK31.E27R67 1997

Wilson, Charles Morrow. Green treasures: adventures in the discovery of edible plants. Philadelphia, Macrae Smith, 1974. 184 p.
   QK26.W54 1974



Anisko, Tomas. Plant exploration for Longwood Gardens. Portland, Timber Press, 2006. 334 p.
   Bibliography: p. 321-325.
   QK15.A55 2006 <SciRR>

Colonial botany: science, commerce, and politics in the early modern world. Edited by Londa Schiebinger and Claudia Swan. Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, c2005. 346 p.
   Bibliography: p. 287-330.
   SB108.E85C64 2005 <SciRR>

Druse, Kenneth. Planthropology: the myths, mysteries, and miracles of my garden favorites. New York, Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2008. 288 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   SB455.D78 2008

Dutton, Joan Parry. Plants of Colonial Williamsburg: how to identify 200 of Colonial America’s flowers, herbs, and trees. Williamsburg, VA, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, c1979. 193 p.
   Bibliography: p. 179-183.

Hays, Wilma Pitchford, and R. Vernon Hays. Foods the Indians gave us. New York, I. Washburn, 1973. 113 p.
   Bibliography: p. vii-viii.

Hobhouse, Henry. Seeds of change: five plants that transformed mankind. New York, Harper & Row, c1986. 252 p.
   Bibliography: p. 233-237.
   SB71.H63 1986

Juma, Calestous. The gene hunters: biotechnology and the scramble for seeds. Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press, 1989. 288 p. (African Center for Technology Studies research series, no. 1)
   Bibliography: p. 249-272.
   S494.5.B563J86 1989 FT MEADE

The Origins of agriculture: an international perspective. Edited by C. Wesley Cowan and Patty Jo Watson with the assistance of Nancy L. Benco. Washington, Smithsonian Institution Press, c1992. 224 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   GN799.A4O75 1992 <SciRR>

Stott, Philip Anthony. Historical plant geography: an introduction. London, Boston, Allen & Unwin, 1981. 151 p.
   Bibliography: p. 133-148.

Wolberg, Donald L., and Patsy Reinard. Collecting the natural world: legal requirements & personal liability for collecting plants, animals, rocks, minerals & fossils. Tucson, AZ, Geoscience Press, c1997. 330 p.
   KF5640.W65 1997 <LawRR>



Brooks, Reid Merrifield. The Brooks and Olmo register of fruit & nut varieties. 3rd ed. Alexandria, VA, ASHS Press, c1997. 743 p.
   Rev. ed. of Register of new fruit and nut varieties. 2nd ed. 1972.
   SB361.B84 1997 <SciRR>

The Cultural history of plants. Ghillean Prance, consulting editor; Mark Nesbitt, scientific editor. New York, Routledge, 2005. 452 p.
   Bibliography: p. 433.
   SB71.C86 2005 <SciRR>

Desmond, Ray. Dictionary of British and Irish botanists and horticulturists, including plant collectors, flower painters, and garden designers. With the assistance of Christine Ellwood. Rev. and completely updated ed. London, Bristol, PA, Taylor & Francis; London, Natural History Museum, 1994. 825 p.
   Bibliography: p. xxi-xxxviii.
   QK26.D47 1994 <SciRR>

Elzebroek, A. T. G., and Koop Wind. Guide to cultivated plants. Wallingford, UK, Cambridge, MA, CABI, c2008. 540 p.
   Bibliography: p. 495-516.
   SB107.E49 2008 <SciRR>



Funk, V. A. (Vicki A.), and Scott A. Mori. A bibliography of plant collectors in Bolivia. Washington, Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989. 20 p. (Smithsonian contributions to botany, no. 70)
   Bibliography: p. 19-20.
   QK1.S2747, no. 70

Hicks, Arthur James, and Pearl M. Hicks. A selected bibliography of plant collection and herbarium curation. Taxon, v. 27, Feb. 1978: 63-99.
   QK1.T34, v. 27

Lawrence, George H. M. Plant explorers and their introductions with a bibliography. Pittsburgh, Carnegie-Mellon University, 1970. 14 p.
   Pamphlet box <SciRR>

Torry Botanical Club. Index to American botanical literature, 1886-1966. Boston, G. K Hall, 1969. 4 v.
   Reproduction of an index published serially since 1886 in the Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club.
   Excellent coverage of the writings of D. G. Fairchild, E. H. Wilson, F. N. Meyer, etc.
   Z5358.A4T6 <SciRR>



Floristics for the 21st century: proceedings of the workshop. Sponsored by the American Society of Plant Taxonomists and the Flora of North America Project, 4-7 May 1988, Alexandria, Virginia. Edited by Nancy R. Morin and others. St. Louis, Missouri Botanical Garden, c1989. 163 p. (Monographs in systematic botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden, v. 28)
   Includes bibliographical references.
   QK1.F658 1989

International Symposium on Plant Introduction, Escuela Agrícola Panamericana, 1966. Proceedings. Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Escuela Agrícola Panamericana, c1967. 169 p.
   Held Nov. 30-Dec. 2, 1966.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   SB109.I55 1966

Plant exploration: protocols for the present, concerns for the future: symposium proceedings. Held March 18-19, 1999, Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe, Illinois. Edited by James R. Ault. Glencoe, IL, Chicago Botanic Garden, c2000. 87 p.
   “Organized by The School of the Chicago Botanic Garden, Chicago Botanic Garden Collections Dept., Chicago Botanic Garden Research Dept.”
   Includes bibliographical references.
   QK5.P535 2000

Use of plant introductions in cultivar development: proceedings of a symposium. Sponsored by Division C-1 of the Crop Science Society of America. Editors, H. L. Shands and L. Wiesner. Madison, WI, Crop Society of America, 1991-1992. 2 v. (CSSA special publication, no. 17, 20)
    Pt. 1. Symposium held in Las Vegas, Nev., 19 Oct. 1989; pt. 2. Symposium held in San Antonio, Texas, 23 Oct. 1990.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   SB108.U5U83 1991



Fairchild, David. Japanese bamboos and their introduction into America. Washington, Govt. Print. Off., 1903. 36 p. (U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. Bureau of Plant Industry. Bulletin, no. 43)
   Also online at
   QK1.U45, no. 43

Fairchild, David. Systematic plant introduction: its purposes and methods. Washington, Govt. Print. Off., 1898. 24 p. (U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. Division of Forestry. Bulletin, no. 21)
   SD11.A2, no. 21

Guidelines for seed exchange and plant introduction in tropical crops. Edited by Jorge León and Lyndsey A. Withers. Rome, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 1986. 207 p. (FAO plant production and protection paper, 76)
   Revision of 1974 edition.
   Bibliography: p. 183-207.
   SB109.G85 1986

Womersley, J. S. Plant collecting and herbarium development: a manual. Rome, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 1981. 137 p. (FAO plant production and protection paper, 33)
   Includes bibliographical references.
   QK75.W65 1981



Dissertations can be identified by using online resources or the following print indexes located in the Main Reading Room. Please consult a reference librarian about options. Some dissertations may be available in full text through electronic resources on public terminals in the Library of Congress.

Comprehensive Dissertation Index 1861-1972
   Z5053.X47 1973

Comprehensive Dissertation Index. Supplement. (1973-2009?)

Dissertation Abstracts International (1938-1999?)
   Z5053.D57 Index

Proquest Dissertations & Theses (1861- )
   Electronic format



Cohen, Barry Mendel. Nikolai Ivanovich Vavilov–his life and work. Ann Arbor, MI, UMI, 1980.
   Collation of the original: 278 p.
   Thesis (doctoral)--University of Texas at Austin
   UMI publication number AAT 8208134

Conner, Lafe. Growing wild: crested wheatgrass and the landscape of belonging. Ann Arbor, MI, UMI, 2008.
   Collation of the original: 152 pages.
   Thesis (masters)--Utah State University.
   UMI publication number AAT 1456507

Dozier, Hallie. Plant introductions to invasion: history, public awareness, and the case of Ardisia crenata. Ann Arbor, MI, UMI, 1999.
   Collation of the original: 113 p.
    Thesis (doctoral)--University of Florida.
   UMI publication number AAT 9945964

Seyler, Barnabas C. Sino-American botanical exchange: encouraging greater botanical collaboration through a mutually beneficial staff exchange program. Ann Arbor, MI, UMI, 2009.
   Collation of the original: 254 p.
   Thesis (masters)--University of Delaware
   UMI publication number AAT 1469607



Abstracting & Indexing Services (A&Is) that index relevant journal articles and other periodical literature, conference papers and proceedings, book reviews, government reports and other literature are listed below. For the current status and availability of any of the electronic format resources listed go to For more information consult a reference librarian.

LC-access A&Is: Print and Electronic Format

   Electronic format

Biological & Agricultural Index (1916-)
   Z5073.A46 <SciRR A&I> and Electronic format

BioOne (1920-)
   Electronic format

Environmental Sciences & Pollution Management (1967-)
   Electronic format

Garden, Landscape, & Horticultural Index (1990-)
   Electronic format

GEOBASE (1980-)
   Electronic format

GPO Monthly Catalog (1976-)
   Electronic format

JSTOR (1850-)
   Electronic format

Readers’ Guide to Periodical Literature (1900-)
   AI3.R48 <BusRR> and Electronic format

Science Citation Index (1961-)
   Z7401.S365 <SciRR A&I> and Electronic format

Open-access A&Is: All Electronic Format

Agricola (1800-)



Journals that often contain relevant articles include the following:

Agricultural History
American Gardener SB1.N3
Archives of Natural History Z7403.S68
Arnoldia QK479.A7
Biodiversity and Conservation QH75.A1B513
Biological Conservation S900.B5
BioScience QH1.A277
Curtis’s Botanical Magazine QK1.K46
Economic Botany SB1.E3
Flower and Garden Magazine SB1.F65
Diversity and Distributions QH75.A1B53
Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution (National Agricultural Library)
HortScience SB317.5.H675
Native Plants Journal SB439.N39
Public Garden (National Agricultural Library)
Taxon QK1.T34



Ascher, Amalie Adler. The plant hunter ... still finds adventure and danger, as well as fascinating new plants. Flower and garden magazine, v. 24, Sept. 1980: 29-32, 45-46.

Barnes, Peter, and Petrit Hoda. Plant exploration in Albania: a short history. Curtis’s botanical magazine, v.18, Aug. 2001: 170-180.

Clausen, Kristin S., and Shiu-ying Hu. Mapping the collecting localities of E. H. Wilson in China. Arnoldia, v. 40, May/June 1980: 139-145.

Core, Earl L. The botanical exploration of West Virginia. In West Virginia Academy of Science. Proceedings, v. 10, 1937: 46-64.

Dosmann, Michael, and Peter Del Tredici. Plant introduction, distribution and survival: a case study of the 1980 SinoAmerican Botanical Expedition. BioScience, v. 53, June 2003: 588- 597.

Ewan, Joseph. Plant collectors in America: backgrounds for Linnaeus. In Essays in biohistory, and other contributions presented by friends and colleagues to Frans Verdoorn on the occasion of his 60th birthday. Edited by P. Smit & R. J. Ch. V. ter Laage. Utrecht, International Association for Plant Taxonomy, 1970. p. 19-54. (Regnum Vegetabile, v. 71)
   QK96.R4, v. 71

Howard, Richard A. E. H. Wilson as a botanist. Arnoldia, v. 40, May/June 1980: 102-138.

Isern, Thomas D. The erosion expeditions. Agricultural history, v. 59, Apr. 1985: 181-191.
   S1.A16 and Pamphlet box <SciRR>

Rasmussen, Wayne D. Diplomats and plant collectors: the South American Commission, 1817- 1818. Agricultural history, v. 29, Jan. 1955: 22-31.

Rea, Mary-Alice F. Early introduction of economic plants into New England. Economic botany, v. 29, Oct. 1975: 333-356.

Seymour, William. Botanist explorers of two continents. History today, v. 19, Aug. 1979: 497-505.
   The adventures of Scotsmen David Douglas and George Forrest are recounted.

Smith, Beatrice Scheer. The 1872 diary and plant collections of Ellen Powell Thompson. Utah historical quarterly, v. 62, spring 1994: 104-131.

Stieber, Michael T. From Edward to Robert Tatnall: biographical remarks on some contributors to the ‘Flora of Delaware and the Eastern Shore’ with a bibliography of its collectors. Archives of natural history, v. 11, Apr. 1984: 415-429.    Z7403.S68

Troyes, James R. On William Aurelius Harland, collector of Hong Kong plants. Archives of natural history, v. 24, Feb. 1997: 149-152.



Selected Materials available in the Science Reading Room pamphlet boxes include the following:

Barnes, Peter. Japan’s botanical sunrise: plant exploration around the Meiji restoration. Curtis’s botanical magazine, v. 18, May 2001: 117-131.

Farney, Dennis. Meet the men who risked their lives to find new plants: some of our most popular ornamentals, not to mention improved agricultural lines, arrived only after storybook adventures. Smithsonian, v. 11, June 1980: 128-130, 132, 134, 136, 138-140.

Hinkley, Dan. Plant hunters: past, present and future. Garden design, v. 144, Apr. 2007: 82-85.

Janick, Jules. Plant exploration: from Queen Hatshepsut to Sir Joseph Banks. HortScience, v. 42, Apr. 2007: 191-196.

Jarvis, A., and others. Use of GIS for optimizing a collecting mission for a rare wild pepper (Capsicum flexuosum Sendtn.) in Paraguay. Genetic resources and crop evolution, v. 52, Sept. 2005: 671-682.

Prather, L. A., and others. The decline of plant collecting in the United States: a threat to the infrastructure of biodiversity studies. Systematic botany, v. 29, Jan. 2004: 15-28.

Shakespear, George. Plant exploration today. Public garden: the journal of the American Association of Botanical Gardens and Aboreta, v. 21, no. 4, 2006: 7-11.

Stoner, Allan, and Kim Hummer. 19th and 20th century plant hunters. HortScience, v. 42, Apr. 2007: 197-199.

Swingle, Walter. Trees and plants we owe to China--1-2. Asia and the Americas, v. 43, May 1943: 295-299; v. 43, June 1943: 343-347.

Takeuchi, W. Plant discoveries from PABITRA-related exploration in Papua New Guinea. Organisms, diversity and evolution, v. 3, no. 2, 2003: 77-84.

Thornton, Linda. A plant hunter’s legacy: Benny Simpson’s plant collections flourish in arid landscapes in the southwest. American nurseryman, v. 195, Apr. 15, 2002: 30-34.



American Horticultural Society
7931 East Boulevard Drive
Alexandria, VA 22308-1300
Telephone: 703-768-5700

Arnold Arboretum
125 Arborway
Boston, MA 02130
Telephone: 617-524-1718

U.S. Department of Agriculture
Agricultural Research Service
National Germplasm Resources Laboratory

10300 Baltimore Boulevard
Bldg. 003, Room 102
Beltsville, MD 20705-2350
Telephone: 301-504-5115

U.S. National Arboretum
3501 New York Avenue, NE
Washington, DC 20002
Telephone: 202-245-2726



   The Internet offers a growing number of sites useful in the study of plant exploration, plant collecting, and plant introduction. Several of the organizations listed above provide links to related sites from their web sites. You might try the sites described below, or use your favorite search engine and appropriate key words to identify more specific resources. You could also use your favorite search engine to find additional sites.

Germplasm Resources Information Network (NGRP)
   Authorized by the U.S. Congress in 1990, NGRP’s responsibility is to acquire, characterize, preserve, document, and distribute germplasm of all life forms important for food and agricultural production to scientists.

National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS)
   NPGS is a cooperative effort by State and Federal Governments and private organizations to preserve the genetic diversity of plants.

North American China Plant Exploration Consortium
   In the early 1980's, the U.S. National Arboretum took the lead in working in cooperation with other botanical gardens and arboreta to further explore and collect plants from various parts of China. The North American China Plant Exploration Consortium (NACPEC) was born in the early 1990's to formalize this working relationship.

Plants in Print: The Age of Botanical Discovery
   Joint Project of the Chicago Botanic Garden and the U.S. Botanic Garden
   “The advent of book publishing ushered in an exuberant age of plant exploration and discovery. Armed with, and inspired by, the growing botanical knowledge published in books, explorers set out to discover and study the flora of the world.”

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