History of the Vermont Botanical & Bird Club

A complete recounting of the history of the club will be posted here in the future. In the meantime, here's an article from our 2004 newsletter:


On Thursday evening, Dr. David Barrington, Curator of the Pringle Herbarium and Chair of the Vermont Botany Department from 1991 – 2002, presented through images and words many interesting insights into a talk that Cyrus G. Pringle presented to the Vermont Botanical Club in 1897 (the Club was then in its second year).

From a manuscript of Cyrus Pringle's notes for the talk in 1896, we learned of his personal development as a botanist in the early years in Vermont and then his pursuit of further botanical research beginning in 1880 west to the Columbia River and south to the mountains of Mexico.

We learned about the state of botany in New England, especially the knowledge of the native ferns during the middle to late nineteenth century; and we witnessed the exciting discoveries of ferns and of flowering plants made in many of Vermont's mountain notches and summits: Mt. Mansfield, Smuggler's Notch, and Mount Pisgah at Lake Willoughby.

In 1873, George Davenport was beginning his study of ferns. "A letter from him asking for me [CP] to look for Woodsia glabella, smooth woodsia, started me on a fern hunt". An intensive study was conducted for the next three years. Cyrus Pringle, who lived in Charlotte, VT, made many visits to Camel's Hump, "the peak most accessible to me". On June 20, 1876, he discovered Woodsia glabella, smooth woodsia, and Dryopteris fragrans, fragrant fern, after having "clambered over every shelf of its great southern precipice and peered into every fissure amongst the rocks. On June 15, 1876, Cyrus Pringle visited Mount Mansfield and found "its vastly more extensive field, more alpine in character and admirably vast; so I never again climbed the Camel's Hump" [except once five days later].

On the summit of Mt. Mansfield, Cyrus Pringle found Dryopteris fragrans, fragrant fern, Asplenium viride, green spleenwort (first occurance in the United States), and Diapensia lapponica, Diapensia. He also found 3 species new to Vermont: Vaccinium caespitosum, dwarf blueberry; Polygonum viviparum, alpine bistort; and Prenanthes boottiii, Boott's rattlesnake-root.

Later in the same summer, Pringle collected Woodsia glabella, smooth woodsia, from Mt. Pisgah at Lake Willoughby; and an additional speciman that Prof. Eaton determined was Woodsia alpina, alpine woodsia, another first occurance in the United States. One month later, he discovered Woodsia alpina, alpine woodsia in Smuggler's Notch and on Mt. Mansfield. In his 23 years of botanical travel, he gathered all but 36 of the 165 species of North American ferns and added 16 new species. "Yet, I trust that the fern hunt upon which he [Davenport] started me in 1873 is still far from its close."

In 1902, Cyrus Pringle's herbarium came to the University of Vermont and Cyrus Pringle was instated as the Curator. In September, 2003, The Centennial Celebration of the Pringle Herbarium was held at the Robert Hull Fleming Museum from September 13 – December 14, 2003.

["Reminiscences of Botanical Rambles in Vermont", Cyrus G. Pringle, Vermont Botanical and Bird Club Joint Bulletin No. 20, pp. 8 – 14, November 1986.]



Quick Links:

> VB&BC home page

Home | About VB&BC | Officers | History | Contact Us | Join/Renew | Support the Club | Scholarships | Past Meetings | Newsletters | Bulletins | Bird Images | Bird Web Resources | Plant Images | Plant Web Resources

Copyright © 2005 - 2015, Vermont Botanical & Bird Club. All rights reserved.