Skip to Content


People Behind the Names of Eastern Sierra Native Plants

Short Historical Essays by Larry Blakely

Bibliography: A list of works useful for the study of naturalists for whom or by whom Eastern Sierra plants were named. Additional biographical material may be found in the References and Notes section of the individual essays.

Return to Index

Revised 2002 08 09

  3. BOOKS


  1. Brewer, William. H. 1880. List of Persons who have made Botanical Collections in California. Appendix IV to Watson, Sereno. 1880. Botany of California, Vol. II. (Geol. Surv. of Calif.) Little, Brown and Co., Boston.
  2. Eastwood, Alice. 1939. Early Botanical Explorers on the Pacific Coast, and the Trees They Found There. California Historical Society, Quarterly.
  3. Ewan, Joseph Andorfer. 1950. Rocky Mountain Naturalists. Univ.of Denver Press. Longer bios of James, Fremont, Parry, Greene, Porter, Patterson, Jones, Penard and Cockerell; thumbnail sketches of about 1000 other naturalists who visited, or influenced the study of the natural history of, the Rocky Mountains from 1682 to 1932. The author is the premier historian of Natural History in the American West.
  4. Ewan, Joseph, and Ewan, Nesta. 1981. Biographical Dictionary of Rocky Mountain Naturalists. Bohn, Scheltema & Holkema. Utrecht. An extension and update of the thumbnail sketches noted above.
  5. Jaeger, Edmund C. 1940. Desert Wild Flowers. Stanford Univ. Press. About 150 persons for whom desert plants have been named are given a brief introduction, along with the plant descriptions.
  6. Jones, Marcus E. 1933. Botanists Whom I have Known. Contributions to Western Botany, No. 18:1-19. Often acerbic comments on several botanists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
  7. Parry, C. C. 1883. Early Botanical Explorers of the Pacific Coast. The Overland Monthly. II(10):409-416. On-line at:

Return to Top


  1. Beidleman, Richard G. 2000. Willis Linn Jepson - "The Botany Man". Madroño 47(4):273-286.
  2. Bonta, Marcia Myers. 1991. Women in the Field; America's Pioneering Women Naturalists. Texas A & M Univ. Press. Includes bios of Kate Brandegee and Alice Eastwood.
  3. Constance, Lincoln. 1995. Homage to Willis Linn Jepson. Madroño 42:96-102.
  4. Evans, Howard Ensign. 1993. Pioneer Naturalists. The Discovery and Naming of North American Plants and Animals. Holt. NY. Over 100 naturalists are introduced along with a species or two with which they are associated. Engaging and authoritative.
  5. Ewan, Joseph Andorfer. 1950. Rocky Mountain Naturalists. Univ.of Denver Press. Bios of James, Fremont, Parry, Greene, Porter, Patterson, Jones, Penard and Cockerell.
  6. Geiser, Samuel Wood. 1948. Naturalists of the Frontier. Southern Methodist Unviersity. A chapter on Charles Wright is among several others on naturalists and collectors who were active in Texas.
  7. Jepson, Willis Linn. 1928 - 1929. The Botanical Explorers of California. Madroño, Vol. I: Volney Rattan, pp. 167-170; Joseph Whipple Congdon, pp.175-177; George Hansen, pp.183-186; George Dexter Butler, pp. 188-190; Johan Friederich Eschscholtz, p. 253; Archibald Menzies, pp.262-266; Daniel Cleveland, pp. 267-268; Harley Pierce Chandler, pp. 269-270.
  8. McKelvey, Susan Delano. 1956. Botanical Exploration of the Trans-Mississippi West 1790-1850. 1991 Reprint, Oregon State Univ. Press. A marvelous encyclopedic treatment.
  9. Mearns, Barbara, and Mearns, Richard. 1992. Audubon to Xantus; The Lives of Those Commemorated in North American Bird Names. Academic Press. Outstanding biography, mostly ornithologists of course, but you'll find some who did botany in here also.
  10. Nilsson, Karen B. 1994. A Wild Flower by any other Name; Sketches of pioneer naturalists who named our western plants. Yosemite Association. Wonderfully written, researched and illustrated bios.
  11. Peattie, Donald Culross. 1936. Green Laurels; The Lives and Achievements of the Great Naturalists. The Literary Guild, NY. Authoritative and delightfully written chapters presented in a broad historical context, tracing the beginnings of recorded thoughts on natural history through medieval turmoils, but concentrating on the key players of the 18th and 19th centuries.
  12. Reifschneider, Olga. 1964. Biographies of Nevada Botanists; 1844-1963. Univ. of Nevada Press, Reno.
  13. Reveal, James L. 1992. Gentle Conquest; The botanical discovery of North America with Illustrations from the Library of Congress. Starwood Publishing, In., Washington, D.C.
  14. Reveal, J.L. & J.S. Pringle. 1993. "Taxonomic botany and floristics," pp. 157-192. In: Flora of North America Editorial Committee (ed.), Flora of North America north of Mexico Vol. 1. Oxford University Press, New York. 7. TAXONOMIC BOTANY AND FLORISTICS IN NORTH AMERICA NORTH OF MEXICO: A REVIEW. On-line at:
  15. Tiehm, Arnold. 1996. Nevada Vascular Plant Types and Their Collectors. Memoirs of the New York Botanical Garden; v. 77:1-104. From the abstract: "An annotated list of 1038 vascular plant types from Nevada is presented as well as a biographical account of their collectors. The collectors' data are presented chronologically by decade and include the number of types they collected."

Return to Top


  1. Allen, Paul. 1814. History of the Expedition under the Command of Captains Lewis and Clark to The Sources of the Missouri, thence Across the Rocky Mountains and down the River Columbia to the Pacific Ocean, Performed during the years 1804-5-6, by Order of the Government of the United States. 1966 Reprint, Readex Microprint Corp.
  2. Brackenridge, Henry Marie. 1814. Journal of a Voyage up the Missouri River in 1811. Pittsburg. On-line at:
  3. Bradbury, John. 1819. Travels in the Interior of America, in the years 1809, 1810, and 1811. London. On-line at:
  4. Davies, John. 1980. Douglas of the Forests; The North American Journals of David Douglas. Paul Harris, Edinburgh.
  5. Coan, Eugene. 1981. James Graham Cooper; Pioneer Western Naturalist. Univ. Press of Idaho.
  6. Dakin, Susanna Bryant. 1954. The Perennial Adventure; A Tribute to Alice Eastwood. Cal. Acad. Sci.
  7. Dupree, A. Hunter. 1959. Asa Gray; American Botanist, Friend of Darwin. 1988 Reprint, Johns Hopkins Univ. Press.
  8. Egan, Ferol. 1985. Frémont; Explorer for a Restless Nation. Univ. of Nevada Press.
  9. Farquhar, Francis P. (ed). 1974. Up and Down California in 1860-1864; the Journal of William H. Brewer. Univ. of California Press.
  10. Goodman, George J., and Lawson, Cheryl A. 1995. Retracing Major Stephen H. Long's 1820 Expedition; The Itinerary and Botany. Univ. of Oklahoma Press.
  11. Graustein, Jeannette E. 1967. Thomas Nuttall, Naturalist: Explorations in America, 1808-1841. Harvard Univ. Press.
  12. Greene, Edward Lee. 1983. Landmarks of Botanical History. Edited by Frank N. Egerton. Stanford Univ. Press. Introductory chapters by Egerton, Robert McIntosh and Rogers McVaugh provide biographical details and assessments of Greene's career.
  13. Gregg, Josiah. 1844. Commerce of the Prairies. 1954 reprint, Univ. of Oklahoma Press.
  14. Horgan, Paul. 1979. Josiah Gregg and His Vision of the Early West. Farrar Straus Giroux, N. Y.
  15. James, Edwin. 1822-23. Account of an Expedition from Pittsburgh to the Rocky Mountains. Two volumes. 1966 reprint, Readex Microprint Corp.
  16. Lenz, Lee W. 1986. Marcus E. Jones: Western Geologist, Mining Engineer & Botanist. Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, Claremont, CA.
  17. McVaugh, Rogers. 1956. Edward Palmer; Plant Explorer of the American West. Univ. of Oklahoma Press.
  18. Moore, Patricia Ann. 1996. Cultivating Science in the Field: Alice Eastwood, Ynés Mexia and California Botany, 1890-1940. PhD Dissertation, UCLA; UMI 9640244.
  19. Morwood, William. 1973. Traveler in a Vanished Landscape; The Life and Times of David Douglas. Potter, NY. Subject apparently well researched and written, but the work is marred by too much unwarranted speculation and imaginative psychoanalysis.
  20. Nuttall, Thomas. 1821. A Journal of Travels into the Arkansa Territory, During the Year 1819. 1980 Reprint, Univ. of Oklahoma Press.
  21. Pursh, Frederick. 1869. Journal of a Botanical Excursion in the Northeastern Parts of the States of Pennsylvania and New York During the Year 1807. 1969 reprint, Ira Friedman, Inc.
  22. Rafinesque, Constantine S. 1836. A Life of Travels and Researches in North America etc. Rafinesque's autobiography; see Sterling, 1978.
  23. Rodgers, Andrew Denny. 1942. John Torrey; A Story of North American Botany. Princeton Univ. Press.
  24. Ross, Michael E. and Caple, Laurie A. 1997. Flower Watching with Alice Eastwood. Carolrhoda Books, Inc. Minneapolis. 48 pp. A "Naturalist's Apprentice Series" book; a charming young person's book with many photos of Eastwood.
  25. Sterling, Keir B. 1978. Rafinesque; Autobiography and Lives. Arno Press, NY. Introduction by Sterling; Rafinesque's Autobiography, "A Life of Travels and Researches in North America and the South of Europe, from 1802-1835; Call, R. E., "The Life and Writings of Rafinesque"; Fitzpatrick, J. J., "Rafinesque: A Sketch of his Life with Bibliography".
  26. Stroud, Patricia Tyson. 1992. Thomas Say; New World Naturalist. Univ. of Pennsylvania Press. Not an avid botanist himself, Say was a friend and colleague of Nuttall, James, Rafinesque, and others.
  27. Wilson, Carol Green. 1955. Alice Eastwood's Wonderland; the Adventures of A Botanist. Cal. Acad. Sci.
  28. Wislizenus, F. A. 1840/1912. A Journey to the Rocky Mountains in the Year 1839. Rio Grande Press, 1969 reprint. [Wislizenus' rare 1840 book, in German, was translated by his son and published in 1912.]
  29. Wislizenus, F. A. 1848. Memoir of a Tour to Northern Mexico, 1846 and 1847. Rio Grande Press, 1969 reprint.
  30. Wyeth, Nathaniel J. 1899. The correspondence and journals of Captain Nathaniel J. Wyeth, 1831-6. Eugene, Ore., University Press. On-line at:
  31. Young, Bob and Jan. 1966. Plant Detective: David Douglas. Julian Messner, N. Y. Apparently written for "young readers", yet still a very nice bio of Douglas.

Return to Top


  1. Catlin, George. 1841. Letters and Notes on the North American Indians. 1975 Reprint edited by Michael MacDonald Mooney. Gramercy Books, NY.
  2. DeVoto, Bernard. 1947. Across the Wide Missouri. Bonanza, NY. This classic work on western history is liberally illustrated with early 19th century paintings by Alfred J. Miller, Charles Bodmer, and George Catlin.
  3. Ewers, John C. 1973. Artists of the Old West. Doubleday, NY.
  4. Poesch, Jessie. 1961. Titian Ramsay Peale. Am. Philosophical Society, Philadelphia.
  5. Taft, Robert. 1953. Artists and Illustrators of the Old West, 1850-1900. Bonanza, NY.

Return to Top


  1. Bigelow, J. M., et al. 1856. Report on the Botany of the [Whipple] Expedition. Vol. IV, part V, of Reports of Explorations and Surveys to Ascertain the Most Practicable and Economical Route for a Railroad from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean, 1853-4. Washington, D.C. On-line at:
  2. Coville, Frederick Vernon. 1893. Botany of the Death Valley Expedition. Govt. Printing Office, Washington, D.C.
  3. Cronquist, Arthur, et al. 1972. Intermountain Flora. Vol. 1, pp. 40-76, "Botanical Explorations in the Intermountain Region". New York Botanical Garden.
  4. Nuttall, Thomas. 1818 (1971 reprint, with introduction by Joseph Ewan). The Genera of North American Plants. Hafner, N.Y. (reprint)
  5. Nuttall, Thomas. 1842-49, 1854, 1857. The North American Sylva (supplemental volumes to the work of F. Andrew Michaux). Rare autobiographical comments in the Preface, written as Nuttall was about to leave the U.S.
  6. Parry, C. C., et al. 1859. Botany of the Boundary. Vol. II, Part I of Report of the US and Mexican Boundary Survey [led by William H. Emory]. Washington, D.C. On-line at:
  7. Pursh, Frederick. 1814 (1979 reprint, with introduction by Joseph Ewan). Flora Americae Septentrionalis. J. Cramer (reprint)
  8. Rafinesque, Constantine S. 1836 (1946 reprint by the Arnold Arboretum, Cambridge, MA). New Flora of North America. Philadelphia.
  9. Torrey, John, and Asa Gray. 1838-43 (1969 reprint, with introduction by Joseph Ewan). Flora of North America. Hafner, N.Y. (reprint)
  10. Watson, Sereno. 1871. Botany, of the King Exploration of the 40th Parallel. Govt. Printing Office, Washington, D.C.

Return to Top


  2. Library of Western Fur Trade Historical Source Documents; Diaries, Narratives, and Letters of the Mountain Men: E-texts of journals kept by early western explorers, including some naturalists.
  3. Making of America: Scanned pages of many important historical works, including reports of western explorations.
  4. National Library of Medicine; Images from the History of Medicine: Photos of some botanists who were also medical doctors (e.g., Asa Gray).
  5. Reveal, James L.; History of Systematic Botany: A course "handout".
  6. Reveal, James L., and James S. Pringle; TAXONOMIC BOTANY AND FLORISTICS IN NORTH AMERICA NORTH OF MEXICO: A REVIEW: An historical treatise.
  7. Ertter, Barbara and Tom Schweich; Carl Albert Purpus, Plant Collector in Western America:
  8. Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation"Hunt Institute specializes in the history of botany and all aspects of plant science and serves the international scientific community through research and documentation."
  9. IPNI, International Plant Names Index, "is a database of the names and associated basic bibliographical details of all seed plants. Its goal is to eliminate the need for repeated reference to primary sources for basic bibliographic information about plant names. The data are freely available and are gradually being standardized and checked. IPNI will be a dynamic resource, depending on direct contributions by all members of the botanical community. IPNI is the product of a collaboration between The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, The Harvard University Herbaria, and the Australian National Herbarium."
  10. ITIS, Integrated Taxonomic Information System.
  11. NBII, National Biological Information Infrastructure, "Your Home for Biological Information on the Web".
  12. New York Botanical Garden Vascular Plant Type Catalog. The New York Botanical Garden has completed cataloging its approximately 89,202 vascular plant type specimens. Basic information from all types in these families has been captured in the database, but some of the records are more complete than others. We have now completed photographing the vascular plant type specimens. Digital images of over 82,000 specimens are now available in this catalog. All families contain images except those marked with an asterisk. Any specimen that does not have an image is probably out on loan and will be imaged when returned to NYBG. Images are best viewed in true color (24 bit) at a resolution of 1024 x 768 or higher.

Return to Top