Monday, June 01, 2009

CBHL Literature Awards Recognize Excellence in Botanical and Horticultural Literature

The Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries, Inc. (CBHL) presented its tenth Annual Literature Awards on May 13, 2009. This presentation was made during the Council’s 41st annual meeting hosted by the Missouri Botanical Garden. The Annual Literature Award, created to recognize significant contributions to the literature of botany and horticulture, honored three exceptional resources this year. Genera Palmarum : the Evolution and Classification of Palms by John Dransfield, Natalie W. Uhl, Conny B. Asmussen, William J. Baker, Madeline M. Harley, and Carl E. Lewis and published by Kew Publishing has won the 2009 award in the Technical category. Fruits and Plains : The Horticultural Transformation of America by Philip J. Pauly and published by Harvard University Press has won the 2009 award in the General Interest category. In celebration of the 10th anniversary of the CBHL Annual Literature Award, a Special Recognition Award was presented to TL-2, more formally known as Taxonomic Literature : a Selective Guide to Botanical Publications and Collections with Dates, Commentaries and Types, 2nd edition. This monumental work is one of the most important resources in taxonomic literature. Originally created by Frans Antonie Stafleu and Richard S. Cowan, this resource was most recently continued by Laurence J. Dorr, Erik A. Mennega and Dan H. Nicolson and honored by CBHL for significant contributions to the literature of botany and the study of plants.
Genera Palmarum was nominated for consideration by Lawrence Currie, Librarian of the California Academy of Sciences Library, who wrote: “The high production quality of this book, coupled with the comprehensive coverage of the subject, will certainly make this the standard reference on palms for many years to come.” Among a field of very good nominees, this work stood out. More than just an update of the first edition, the second edition of Genera Palmarum represents a synthesis of the most current data available on the palms. While the bulk of the book comprises a detailed description of the palm genera, many other aspects are also detailed, such as morphology, palynology, paleobotany, biogeography, and conservation. Nearly anything that a researcher could need to know about palms is in this book.

Fruits and Plains : the Horticultural Transformation of America by Philip J. Pauly has been described as a “provocative and persuasive re-interpretation of several interrelated research fields; namely American plant pathology, biogeography, and cultural history. Moreover, it was a brilliant and novel re-interpretation of nineteenth-century American history using American cultivated plants as a primary resource.” (Thomas J. Schlereth, U. of Notre Dame, in Arnoldia, 66:28-31). This final work of Pauly’s has been honored with the award because “… this historical account of the ways horticulture shaped the American landscape would offer readers a new understanding of what it meant and means to be native, naturalized, or alien. And we hoped that, by understanding the values that shaped the landscape around us, readers of this book would be better able to manage that landscape today.” (Jane Maienschein, President of the History of Science Society).

The Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries, Inc. is the leading professional organization in the field of botanical and horticultural information services. It recognizes the critical importance of collecting, preserving, and making accessible the accumulated knowledge about plants for present and future generations. For more information, visit its web site at


Anonymous said...

The first two awards sound great (one about palms and one about the U.S. transformation of the landscape) , but what is the story on the book about Taxonomic Literature? What is in this book that is so important? I probably wont get to see either of them, but I am interested.

Rita said...

Great question! “TL-2 is the standard reference work for plant taxonomic literature from Linnaean times to 1940. In the field of plant taxonomy, detailed information of particular publication dates is often critical in deciding matters of nomenclatural priority. With the many complexities of botanical and plant taxonomic publications that often were published in parts over periods of months if not years or decades, providing these bibliographic and publication data was a formidable task.” Think of TL-2 as a sort of compass or even a “Rosetta stone” to use when trying to locate elusive details about coauthors, titles, collections, and writings of significant botanists. An amazing and monumental work -- like no other! In the Sterling Morton Library, you'll find this multi-volume work in our Reference Room unless I happen to have it open on my desk!