The Flora of Forfarshire (Scotland) is an emblematic botanical work by the Scottish botanist, William Gardiner (1809-1852), a poet and botanist, well known among the botanical establishment in 19th Century Europe. Born into a poor family with little schooling as a child and being an umbrella maker for a big part of his life, Gardiner pursued his passion for plants fostered by his father and uncle, which led him to take classes by night and to do extensive readings. Despite his humble pedigree, he eventually became so well regarded that by 1849 he was enrolled as an associate in the Linnaean Society of London. He developed a reputation as an expert field botanist and supplemented his income by collecting sets of plant on commission for numerous patrons. This proved so successful that in 1841 he became a full-time plant collector and later was able to publish three books, all of which were well received. The Flora of Forfarshire was published in 1848 and comprises 300+ pages of plants, fungi, lichens, and algae growing in Forfar (Angus) County, Scotland. To fund this project, Gardiner recruited patrons who were rewarded with folios of pressed samples of representative species, each with taxonomic and locality information. Most of these volumes no longer exist, but one of them is accessioned at the University of Texas Libraries, where it has been preserved in collaboration with the UT Plant Resources Center.
Given the historical and botanical value of the Flora of Forfarshire, the present project was designed to curate and interpret this rare and wonderful book.
(2017) Diaz, Amalia; Wigley, Jessica; Yatskievych, George
William Gardiner (1809-1852) spent his life in the Dundee region of Scotland. He was born into a humble family and received a basic education, but his passion for botany and exploration brought him recognition from other botanists including William Jackson Hooker. His collections became popular among benefactors and botanical societies, who paid him for volumes of dried plants illustrative of the Scottish Flora. One of his most important works is The Flora of Forfarshire (Scotland), published in 1848, which comprises an annotated catalog of plants documented during his years of traveling the local countryside. The book is one of the most detailed snapshots of plant diversity in a local area in the mid-1840s. In order to help fund his field work and the publication of the book, Gardiner produced a limited number of supplementary volumes containing pressed specimens of selected species. One of the remaining copies of this plant folio is accessioned at the University of Texas Libraries. Given the historical and botanical value of this work, The UT Plant Resources Center initiated a project with the main goal of making it available to the scientific community and the public. This project also provides a student enrichment opportunity through the new Museum Studies Certification Program. The project consists of four main components:
1. Digitizing the book and the accompanying specimen folio.
2. Updating the botanical nomenclature and checking and correcting possible botanical misidentifications in the accompanying volume.
3. Introducing the updated information and the images into the herbarium database.
4. Making the book and botanical information available online through the Texas Scholar Works repository through the University of Texas Libraries.
The supplementary volume contains specimens and information on 59 species of angiosperms, 17 ferns and allies, 37 bryophytes, 11 algae, and 10 lichens, collected at 36 total localities in Forfarshire (Forfar, or Angus, County) in Scotland. We have generated digital images of each page, and high quality prints with barcodes for each species. These data and links to image files are included in a database. To accomplish the last stage of the project, the images and a series of metadata that include collector, locality, date, and plant name will be compiled and uploaded to the Texas Scholar Works repository. A link to the images and the information will also be included in the Plant Resources Center herbarium website.