History and Collectors

The Early Years

The Botany Department was founded as part of the California Academy of Natural Sciences in 1853. The early herbarium (now CAS) included specimens collected by Dr. Albert Kellogg, a medical practitioner and one of the founders of the Academy. Over the next fifty years, Kellogg's collections were augmented by the collections of Dr. John Allen Veatch, Dr. Hans Herman Behr (author of the first flora of San Francisco), William G.W. Harford, Dr. Gustav Eisen, Dr. Katherine Layne Curran Brandegee, and Miss Alice Eastwood. These early collections of California, Oregon, Alaska, Baja California, and other parts of western North America were some of the most important of their day.


The Big Fire

By the early 1900's, the Academy's herbarium collection was extensive. However, most of what we know about that early collection comes from publications of the period. The Academy's Market Street building was destroyed by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and resulting fire. In a classic tale of heroism the CAS curator, Alice Eastwood, rescued nearly 1500 specimens, mostly types, from the damaged and burning building. These specimens, plus some specimens that were out on loan at the time of the earthquake, and nearly 3,000 specimens collected by Alban Stewart during the Academy's 1905 and 1906 Galapagos excursion became the foundation for the Academy's current collection.



During the tenure of John Thomas Howell, the collections doubled in size, due to his active collecting in California and the Galapagos as well as the collections of his collaborators. Elizabeth McClintock, among other achievements, was responsible for the fine collections of ornamental plants. Dennis Breedlove was an active collecter in Mexico, especially Baja California and Chiapas.


The Dudley Herbarium is Added

In the 1960's, as a result of Stanford University's decision to dismantle its natural history collections, arrangements were made to integrate the Stanford's Dudley Herbarium (DS) with the herbarium of the California Academy of Sciences (CAS). The integration was overseen by Dr. Alva Day and took 10 years to complete. Although each voucher continues to carry distinguishing identification, DS and CAS are now housed as a single unit and financed and curated by Academy staff.


History of the Dudley Herbarium

The Dudley Herbarium of Stanford University (DS) dates to 1891 when Douglas Houghton Campbell began teaching systematic botany at Stanford. He was joined a year later by William Russell Dudley. Dudley collected vascular plants, fungi, and lichens throughout California. His collections, including those he brought from Cornell, collections of students, and a set of duplicates acquired from the herbarium of William Harvey (focusing on Australia, the Cape region of South Africa, and cultivated material from botanical gardens of Europe, dating to 1758) became the Dudley Herbarium collection. Other notable staff in DS's history were Dr. LeRoy Abrams, Ms. Roxana S. Ferris, Dr. Ira L. Wiggins, and Dr. John Hunter Thomas.


A more detailed account of the History of Botany at the Califronia Academy of Sciences, written by Tom Daniel, PhD and Curator, can be found at the following link:


One Hundred and Fifty Years of Botany at the California Academy of Sciences (1853–2003)

Notable Collections and Collectors from the California Academy of Sciences and Dudley Herbarium

The Botany Department contains two herbaria, the herbarium of the California Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the Dudley Herbarium of Stanford University (DS). These two herbaria function as a single unit although the Dudley Herbarium is still the legal property of Stanford University.


I. From the California Academy of Sciences:

Almeda, F. - Central America, Madagascar, Mexico, and South America
Bartholomew, B. - Bhutan, California, China, and Mexico
Behr, H. - Early California
Breedlove, D. E. - California and Mexico
Cannon, E. - Early Central California
Daniel, T. F. - Arizona, California (particularly San Francisco), Honduras, Mexico, and Madagascar
Eastwood, A. - Western North America (particularly California and Arizona)
Heller, A. A. - Western North America
Ho, T. N. - China (Qinghai)
Hoover, R. - California (particularly San Luis Obispo County)
Howell, J. T. - Western North America and Galapagos Islands
Kearney, T. - Arizona
Kellogg, A. - Early California and Baja California
Liu, S. W. - China (Qinghai)
J. F. Maxwell - Thailand
Mexia, Y. - Mexico and Brazil
McClintock, E. - Cultivated plants of California
Pollard, H. - California (particularly Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo counties)
Raven, P. - California and Onagraceae
Rose, L. - Western North America and extensive person worldwide exchange program
Rubtzoff, P. - California (particularly marsh plants and Sonoma County)
Shevock, J. R. - southern Sierra Nevada vascular plants and bryophytes
Smith, G. - California (Mendocino County)
Stacey, J. W. - Carex
Stokes, S. - Eriogonum
Steward, A. - Galapagos Islands
True, G. - Sierra Nevada, California (Sierra Nevada particularly Nevada County)
Twisselmann, E. - Southern California (particularly Kern County and adjacent counties)
Wilson, E. H. - China and Japan


II. From the Dudley Herbarium of Stanford University:

Abrams, L. - Western North America (particularly Pacific States)
Anderson, C. I. - Poaceae
Applegate, E. - Northern California and Oregon
Beatley, J. - Southern Nevada
Carnegie Institute of Washington, Division of Plant Biology - Vouchers for the works of Clausen, Keck, and Hiesey
Congdon, J. W. - California (particularly Sierra Nevada foothills)
Dudley, W. R. - New York and California
Elmer, A. D. E. - Plants of California, Philippines, and Indonesia (Borneo)
Ferris, R. S. - Western North America and China
Heller, A. A. - Western North America
Knoche, H. - California, Mediterranean region, Canary Islands, and Balearic Islands
Orcutt, C. R. - Southern California and Mexico
Parish, S. B. - Southern California
Rattan, V. - California
Raven, P. H. - California and Onagraceae
Rzedowski, J. - Mexico
Smith, C. P. - Lupinus
Stokes, S. - Eriogonum
Taylor, R. and J. Calder - Canada (particularly Queen Charlotte Island)
Thomas, J. H. - Central California, arctic Alaska, and Baja California
Wiggins, I. L. - Western North America, Alaska, Baja California, Western Mexico, Galapagos Islands, and Ecuador
Wolf, C. B. - Cupressus and Western North America


Important Historic European Herbaria Included in the CAS Collections

The Albert Praeger Herbarium, purchased by the Academy in 1920, contains 40,000-50,000 specimens including collections of Boissier, Ecklon & Zeyher, Endress, Meyer, Schaffner, Schimper, Von Egger, and Schlechtendahl.

The herbarium of Gaston Gautier containing in excess of 126,000 sheets from the Mediterranean region, Asia Minor, the Balkans, North Africa, Madagascar, Cape of Good Hope, and the West Indies. These were purchased by Dr. Herman Knoche from the Gautier heirs and given to Stanford University in 1945. This collection contains specimens made by such prominent botanists as Berlandier, Bovin, Bosc, Commerson, Cuming, Dushassaing, Ecklon & Zeyher, Bombey, Forskal, Gaudichaud, Gautier, Guillemium, Kotschy, Miers, Perrottet, Schomburgk, Spruce, Verreaux, and Wallich. The Gautier Herbarium also contains about 15,000 Hieracium specimens that were the basis for Arvet-Touvet's 1913 monograph.

The Harvey Herbarium which represents one of several sets of duplicates from William Harvey of Trinity College, Dublin, was purchased by Mr. David Peel Secor and given to Stanford University in 1891. It contains some 70,000 specimens representing over 19,000 species. It is rich in early material from Europe, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and from many botanical gardens in Europe, particularly Paris and St. Petersburg. Most of these specimens date from 1750 to 1865.

Contact the Department

  • Botany Administrator
  • California Academy of Sciences
  • 55 Music Concourse Drive
  • San Francisco, CA 94118
  • 415-379-5361 (direct)