(Vol.13, 2010-12) Benjamin Carroll Tharp (1885–1964) Remembering a Life Fashioned of Events and Circumstance

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Graham, Alan

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Benjamin Carroll Tharp was a legendary Texas botanist who made fundamental contributions to understanding the vegetation of the state and to developing the University of Texas Herbarium. His publications in the early and middle 1900s were used by numerous writers and artists in the southwest, and throughout his career he contributed generously to students and colleagues needing field collections for teaching and research. Later, however, he became caught up in the changing trends in botany that shifted staffing, administration, and departmental emphasis away from descriptive field studies and more toward laboratory and experimental research and newer methodologies. He was also concerned in later years with completing a lengthy treatise on soil-vegetation relationships and soil development in non-glaciated regions. The result of these many factors was a complex individual with deep feelings for his native state and great respect for those studying its natural history. He also harbored resentments and anxieties manifested as a stoic personality easily interpreted as bitter and even angry. He was all of these but for those closest to him he was admired for his deep reservoir of knowledge about plants which he shared generously with those devoted to Texas and its vegetation.


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