Flora Borinqueña

By Nicole Tarnowsky

Nov 12 2020

In February 1906, Nathaniel and Elizabeth Britton, founders of The New York Botanical Garden, embarked on their first trip to Puerto Rico. The trip began an association with the island that continued the rest of their lives. From 1906 until 1933, the Brittons and their collaborators carried out 16 expeditions to Puerto Rico, during which they collected 10,139 specimens; from which 38 new species of flowering plants, lichens, fungi and algae were described.

Nathaniel Lord Britton’s major scientific publication resulting from this work was the multivolume Botany of Porto Rico and the Virgin Islands (1923-1930). At the time of his death in 1934, he was nearing completion of a popular flora of the island for the general public to enjoy, which was to include non-technical descriptions in English and Spanish of approximately 400 species, illustrated with watercolor paintings by Frances Horne.

The Brittons passed away before this project was completed. The manuscript and illustrations for Flora Borinqueña were never published, but have never been entirely forgotten by the botanical community. They have now been digitized along with all of the Britton's corresponding herbarium collections. Enjoy a selection of them here.