Walter Kittredge

Chuck Davis photo
  • Senior Curatorial Assistant
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Curatorial Work

As a Curatorial Assistant I have participated in major reorganizations of the collections starting with the alphabetization of species and genera that were organized in phylogenetic order, and the alphabetization of states within the U.S. This involves the continual updating of North American taxa as Flora of North America treatments are completed. I participated in retrieving the New England specimens from A and GH to be intercalated with the NEBC collections. I am near to completing the intercalation of the ECON herbarium with the A, GH and NEBC herbaria. I was instrumental in retrieving the type specimen folders from the general collections to be placed at the ends of the families by basionym.

I continue to contribute to the databasing of the type specimens, adding and updating bibliographic, biographic, and geographic information. I have also contributed databasing of specimens for floristic projects including the Flora of China, Flora of Thailand, Flora Malesiana, and for New England specimens. Another large part of my responsibilities is to update the collections by annotating specimens according to monographic treatments. As part of these projects I liaison with botanists at other herbaria to coordinate efforts.

Palfrey Oak (word file, jpeg)

New England Floristic Projects

Wethersfield, Connecticut
My awareness of the flora of Wethersfield began early on in my career at the Harvard Herbaria as I encountered Charles Wright's specimens from all over the world, including his hometown of Wethersfield. But it wasn't until I met my wife Kaye who is a native of the town that I really started to think about actively working on it. As it happens, her parents are very active in the local Eleanor P. Buck Nature Center, and thus I became involved in some of its activities. As a result I started recording Wright's collections from his home town, and making new collections to document the plants in the town's conservation areas. In the course of looking up Wright's specimens I also ran into Steven Hill's collections. As it turns out this was also his hometown, and he collected extensively in it over several decades. Dr. Hill was kind enough to supply me with his data and so I have been able to produce a very comprehensive checklist for the town. It is my intention to donate a set of my specimens to the Nature Center for local students to use and learn from.

In writing Wright's biography his lifelong friend and associate Asa Gray stated that once Wright moved back home to care for his aging family that his botanical career was essentially over. Nothing could be further from the truth! The itinerary presented here shows that Wright was constantly out in the field traveling over a wide area of central Connecticut and collected a very large set of specimens during the last years of his life.

  • Provenance of Wright's Connecticut specimens (word file)
  • Sprague illustration of Wright specimen (jpeg):
    • Wright collected a specimen in Wethersfield of Amphicarpaea bracteata, the Hog-peanut, which was used by Isaac Sprague to make an illustration. These drawings were done under the direction of Asa Gray with the intention of publishing ten volumes illustrating the genera of North American plants. Unfortunately only two of the volumes were published under the title, Genera florae Americae boreali-orientalis illustrata: the genera of the plants of the United States illustrated by figures and analyses from nature, by Isaac Sprague, superintended, and with descriptions, etc., by Asa Gray, published in Boston by J. Munroe and Co., 1848-1849. Gray stated in the introduction that he was receiving no "emolument," an archaic word for payment, for his work on this publication, which helps explain why only two volumes appeared, and why this illustration remained unpublished.
  • S. R. Hill biography (word file)

Andover, Massachusetts
Andover is blessed with more conservation acreage than most suburban towns in the Boston metropolitan area. There is Harold Parker State Forest (3000 acres total including parts in North Andover and North Reading), Ward Reservation (695 acres), the reservations of the Andover Village Improvement Society (AVIS) (1100 acres), and town conservation areas (1600 acres), for a total of over 4000 acres! Living on the border of Andover I have had ample opportunity to spend many years enjoying it's extensive woodlands. My resulting interest in the flora led me to look through the New England collections at the Herbaria and discover that Arthur Pease, a professor of Latin at Harvard, had thoroughly botanized and collected the plants of Andover at the turn of the last century. Over many years I have collected his data into a flora for the town. In addition, in the 1980's I surveyed all the AVIS reservations to produce checklists for them. Unfortunately I lost all this data during the reconstruction of my home. I have since resurveyed some of the reservations in town. I have also begun to survey Harold Parker State Forest and have a beginning checklist for that as well.

Ipswich River Watershed, Massachusetts
In the 1990's I decided that a survey of the wetlands of the Watershed might shed some light on the overall condition of what has been declared the third most endangered river in the United States. I had been working as a consultant for twenty years doing wetlands delineation and so was able to use those skills to easily delineate wetland boundaries by sight along the river banks. I used an ecological assessment system that uses a floristic quality index derived from a coefficient of conservatism. This coefficient assigns a value on an ecological gradient from 0-10 for each species, 0 being used for non-native invasives and 10 for rare taxa. Pioneer species indicating disturbance would have low values, while plants of more stable habitats have higher values. The overall results I found from this survey were that diversity was very high and the floristic quality was excellent in most areas. A few areas did have low diversity and quality due to the dominant presence of invasive Purple Loosestrife.

Middlesex Fells Reservation, Massachusetts
Bryan Hamlin and Debra Wright are currently working on a checklist of the plants of the Fells. I have been assisting them looking up records in the Herbaria to relocate rarer plants, and to confirm novelties. The Herbaria have an extensive collection of plants from the Fells dating back to the 1800's that provide baseline data to compare with current findings. I am also assisting them with the identification of grasses and sedges.

Newton, Massachusetts
The Newton Conservators have been surveying the conservation areas of Newton to produce individual checklists of each area and a master list. I have been assisting them with nomenclature and also finding and identifying plants. Farlow lived in Newton and collected extensively there providing baseline data from the 1800's.