Person Details: C. F. Austin
( Coe F. Austin )
C. F. Austin
1831 – 1880
Bryophytes; Lemnaceae; Spermatophytes; Lichens
Author, Collector, Determiner
United States of America, New York, New Jersey
[The well-known botanist Coe F. Austin] died on th 18 of March, 1880, at his home, Closter, New Jersey, where he was born on the 20th of June 1831. His health had been failing for a year, but the close was rather sudden.
After completing his education at Rankin's Pinkerton Academy, Austin, who was endowed with the true mind of a naturalist, devoted his time to the study of Chemistry and Botany. Becoming soon most interested in Botany, he accepted the position of Curator of the herbarium of Columbia College, but abandoned it to give his whole time to the study of the Mosses and Hepaticae, and to the search for and collections of these plants.
Without a sufficient supply of books, but with an incomparable perseverance, he soon became an adept in this department of botanical science, and, helped by Sullivant and other American bryologists, he was able to prepare the publication of his first work on Mosses.
As a collector, Austin pursued his explorations with indomitable energy and remarkable success, enriching the American flora with a large number of species, either new or as yet undiscovered in this country. The first work of his, the Musci Appalachiani, is a collection of 450 specimens, raised to 550 by a supplement in 1878, representing above four hundred species, the rest being varieties not less valuable to students.
Mr. Austin contributed in 1869, an article to the Proceedings of the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences, containing 47 species of Hepaticae. After which time appeared his Hepaticae Boreali-Americanae which comprised 150 specimens, 30 of which were varieties, and 15 species previously published.
Work of this kind can be performed only by true devotion to science. It demands a prodigious amount of research in the field for procuring the specimens, and an arduous labor to separate the species (for mosses mostly grow mixed together) and then for the determination of each specimen, which has generally to be done by microscopical examinatin. It is therefore easy to understand how much time has to be spent in the preparation of a single set, and what small material advantage can be derived from such undertakings.
Austin's name is well-known by the readers of the Bulletin [of the Torrey Botanical Club], to which he has furnished the descriptions of 110 species of Mosses and Hepaticae. Sixty four others have been published in the Botanical Gazette.
As an anatomist and judge of the character of the Mosses, Austin had a quick perception, but was often disposed to unreliable conclusions, formed too confidently on incomplete materials. He has, therefore, sometimes recalled his first determinations. But who is the bryologist who has done otherwise? A large number of his species, some of them the finest and rarest in the North American Bryology, stand as wonders of his clear discrimination, and he leaves a name dear to American botanists and well-known to European bryologists.
Collected: Appalachian Mts., Florida, N. Jersey: B, K, MANCH, PRE, BKL, MICH, CAS, US, BH, CM, MASS, NY, PH Florida (1878): NY
Reference: Authors of Plant Names. 1992; NY specimen barcode # 769419; Authors of Plant Names. Cd-Rom; Rev. Bryol. Lichenol. 38: 241; Authors of Plant Names. Cd-rom version; Index Herbariorum - Collectors A-D; Index Herbariorum - Collectors; NYBG barcode #479519; NY specimen barcode # 443888
From a notice by Leo Lesquereux on the death of Coe F. Austin (published in the Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 6: 38-39. 1880):