David Fairchild's Plant hunting Expedition In The Lesser Antilles: Year 1932


Botanical History, Ex situ Plant Conservation, Plant Genetic Resources, Utowana, West Indies

How to Cite

Camas, M., Carrington, S., Saint-Aime, S., & Francisco-Ortega, J. (2020). David Fairchild’s Plant hunting Expedition In The Lesser Antilles: Year 1932. Selbyana, 33(4). Retrieved from https://ojs.test.flvc.org/selbyana/article/view/125912


“The USDA 1931–1932 Allison V. Armour Expedition to the West Indies”, led by Dr. David Fairchild, was a germplasm collecting exercise that took place in the Caribbean Islands, Guyana, and Suriname over the course of five months. The largest portion of the trip targeted the Lesser Antilles (January 22–February 10, 1932; and March 7–17, 1932). Seventeen islands were visited and a total of 358 germplasm collections were made, 242 of cultivated species, 82 of native taxa, 34 of Caribbean Island endemics and 10 of Lesser Antillean endemics. Some collections (113) included herbarium vouchers, and two of these accessions are currently cultivated in Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. The travelogue of this trip was written by expedition member Palemon H. Dorsett with details regarding botanic gardens and botanists of the region. It also included accounts of ethnobotanical/horticultural practices, main crops, interesting plants encountered, landscapes, historical events, and the botany of the Lesser Antilles. Botanical nomenclature used has been totally updated and herbarium specimens collected in the Lesser Antilles were located and examined on-line. A total of 495 photos were also found; many were taken by Fairchild (203) and Dorsett (280). A further 12 photos were taken by expedition members Leonard R. Toy or Harold F. Loomis. A motion picture movie comprising four reels was also shot; however, this film has not been located yet. Research was conducted in the US National Herbarium at the Smithsonian Institution, the Archives and Library of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, and the US National Archives at College Park, MD. Copies of photos and documents found during the study are posted in archive.org.


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