Library of the Gray Herbarium
Riddell and Hale were serious students of the flora of Louisiana who were cited among the chief contributors from Louisiana for Torrey and Gray's Synoptical Flora of North America. Riddell had bachelor's and master's degrees from Rensselaer and earned an M.D. while teaching chemistry and botany at the Cincinnati Medical College in 1835. He published on the flora of Ohio and the west while at Cincinnati. In 1836 he was made Professor of Chemistry at the Medical College of Louisiana, moved to New Orleans, and took up the study of Louisiana flora. Hale studied botany with Rafinesque at Transylvania University 1820-1821. He practiced medicine in Mississippi and Louisiana and made enough money to retire in 1834 and spend all his time on botany, until he lost his money in the crash of 1845-1846.
Riddell contributed a manuscript work--Plants of Louisiana to the Smithsonian Institution in 1851. The manuscript was supposed to include scientific and common names of plants existing in Louisiana, with localities, times of flowering and full descriptions of new species. W.M. Carpenter and Josiah Hale also worked on this manuscript, and Hale was responsible for the Cyperaceae and Gramineae. The Smithsonian declined to publish the manuscript, and Riddell published an abridged version entitled Catalogus florae ludovicianae in the New Orleans Medical and Surgical Journal, vol. VIII, May 1852.
"John Leonard Riddell" by L.H. Bailey, Jr. in Bot. Gazette, 1883, VIII, 269-271
Chronology of Josiah Hale by Joseph Ewan--Biog 2 H13.1
Torrey and Gray, Synoptical Flora of North America, 1:xii
Scope, Content & Provenance:
The library of the Gray Herbarium owns an annotated copy of the Catalogus, bound with other works of Riddell (fl 73 R43). A note at the head of the Catalogus, which appears to be in Sereno Watson's handwriting ( although an accompanying note identifies it as Asa Gray's handwriting), reads: "The MSS. of "Plants of Louisiana", now in Herb. Gray, differs only in having the localities, with descriptions of the "new species," which with the accompanying figures or specimens are in place in the herbarium." There is a tipped in fragment of manuscript which has been identified by Joseph Ewan as the handwriting of J.L. Riddell and belonging to the "original ms sent to the Smiths.Inst. for publication, rejected, sent to Gray and cut and inserted here of occ. in herb." At the end of the Catalogus, 9 pages of manuscript have been bound in: lists of Hales Cyperaceae and Gramineae in Watson's handwriting. The lists may have been copied from Riddell's ms, according to Ewan.
The archives have a folder containing 13 loose sheets of ms, which appear to be the handwriting of Josiah Hale. The sheets contain descriptions of Cyperaceae and Gramineae which correspond to the species marked as new or questionable on Watson't copy of Hale's list (above). The descriptions appear not to have been published. It is possible that these sheets were attached to Riddell's ms, even though they do not appear to be in Riddell's hand, and that they reached the Gray Herbarium by way of the Smithsonian.
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