The writers began field, greenhouse, and herbarium studies of the Cactaceae in 1904 and in the years following they made studies and collections over wide areas in the United States, Mexico, and the West Indies. It was first intended that these should be followed by a general description of the North American species only, but a plan for a more complete investigation of the family was proposed by Dr. D. T. MacDougal in January 1911. This was approved by the trustees of the Carnegie Institution of Washington at its next regular meeting and a grant was made to cover the expenses of such an investigation. Dr. Rose was given temporary leave of absence from his position as Associate Curator in charge of the Division of Plants, United States National Museum, and became a Research Associate in the Carnegie Institution of Washington, with William R. Fitch and Paul G. Russell as assistants; Dr. Britton, Director-in-Chief of the New York Botanical Garden, was appointed an honorary Research Associate, while R. S. Williams, of the New York Botanical Garden, was detailed to select and preserve the specimens for illustration. Work under this new arrangement was begun January 15, 1912, and thus several lines of investigation were undertaken in a comprehensive way.
1. Reexamination of type specimens and of all original descriptions: This was necessary because descriptions had been incorrectly interpreted, plants had been wrongly identified, and the errors perpetuated; thus the published geographical distribution of many species was faulty and conclusions based on such data were unreliable. Not only had specific names been transferred to plants to which they did not belong, but generic names were interchanged and the laws of priority ignored. Many valid species, too, had dropped out of collections and out of current literature and had to be restored.
2. Assembling of large collections for greenhouse and herbarium use: Extensive greenhouse facilities were furnished by the New York Botanical Garden and the United States Department of Agriculture, while the herbaria and libraries of the United States National Museum and of the New York Botanical Garden furnished the bases for the researches. The New York Botanical Garden has also cooperated in contributing funds in aid of the field operations, in clerical work, and a large number of the illustrations used have been made there, the paintings and line drawings mostly by Miss Mary E. Eaton.
3. Extensive field operations in the arid parts of both Americas: Many of these deserts are almost inaccessible, while the plants are bulky and if not handled carefully are easily destroyed. Many plants require several years to mature, in some cases many years to flower in cultivation. Through these explorations were obtained the living material for the greenhouse collections and for exchange purposes, as well as herbarium material for permanent preservation. Of much importance, also, were field observations upon the plants as individuals, their form, habit, habitat, and their relations to other species.
Early in 1912 Dr. Rose went to Europe to study the collections there and to arrange for exchanges with various botanical institutions having collections of these plants. He spent considerable time at London, mainly at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, where through the courtesy of the Director, Sir David Pram, he was able to examine the greenhouse, illustrative, and herbarium material for which this institution has long been famed. The collection at the British Museum of Natural History and that of the Linnaean Society of London were examined. At Paris he studied the collections at the Natural History Museum, many of which have historic interest; one of his interesting discoveries there was that the Pereskia bleo, collected by Baron Friedrich Alexander von Humboldt in Colombia, is a very different species from the plant which for nearly a century has been passing in our collections and literature under that name. He also visited the famous botanical garden of the late Sir Thomas Hanbury, at La Mortola, Italy, and through the courtesy of Lady Hanbury was given every possible facility, for the study of this collection; Mr. Alwin Berger, who was then curator in charge, had brought together one of the most extensive representations of this family to be found growing in the open in any place in the world. Here in the delightful climate of the Riviera were grown many species which were apparently just as much at home as they would have been in their desert habitats. Dr. Rose also visited Rome, Naples, Venice, and Florence, where he saw smaller collections in parks and private gardens. At Munich he examined certain types in the Royal Botanical Museum, then under the charge of Dr. L. Radlkofer, and saw some interesting species in the Royal Botanical Garden then being organized by Dr. K. Goebel. At Berlin he examined the herbarium and living specimens in the Berlin Botanical Garden, through the courtesy of Dr. A. Engler, and the West Indian collection through the courtesy of Dr. I. Urban. He then went to Halle and saw L. Quehl's collection of mammillarias; to Erfurt, where he saw the Haage and Schmidt, and Haage Jr. collections; to Darmstadt to see the Botanical Garden under Dr. J. A. Purpus; and to Antwerp to see DeLaet's private collection.
In 1913 Dr. Britton and Dr. Rose visited the West Indies. Dr. Britton, who was accompanied by Mrs. E. G. Britton, Miss D. W. Marble, and Dr. J. A. Shafer, collected on St. Thomas and the other Virgin Islands, Porto Rico, and Curaçao. At the latter island he rediscovered the very rare Cactus mammillaris, which had not been in cultivation for many years. Dr. Rose, who was accompanied by William R. Fitch and Paul G. Russell, also stopped at St. Thomas, and collected on St. Croix, St. Christopher, Antigua, and Santo Domingo.
In 1914 and 1915 Dr. Britton again visited Porto Rico and, assisted by Mr. John F. Cowell and Mr. Stewardson Brown, explored the entire southwestern arid coast and the small islands Desecheo, Mona, and Muertos.
In 1914 Dr. Rose went to the west coast of South America, making short stops at Jamaica and Panama. He made extensive collections in central and southern Peru, central Bolivia, and northern and central Chile. At Santiago, Chile, he examined a number of Philippi's types in the National Museum and obtained some rare specimens from the Botanical Garden through the courtesy of Johannes Sohrens.
In 1915 Dr. Rose, accompanied by Paul G. Russell, visited Brazil and Argentina on the east coast of South America, collecting extensively in the semiarid parts of Bahia, Brazil, and in the region about Rio de Janeiro, so rich in epiphytic cacti. In the deserts about Mendoza and Córdoba, in Argentina, collections were also made. Here he also arranged for exchanges with the leading botanists and collectors. The following persons have made valuable contributions from the regions visited: Dr. Leo Zehntner, Joazeiro, Brazil; Dr. Alberto Lofgren, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Dr. Carlos Spegazzini, La Plata, Argentina; Dr. Cristóbal M. Hicken, Buenos Aires, Argentina; and Dr. Carlos S. Reed, Mendoza, Argentina.
In October and November 1916, Dr. Rose, accompanied by Mrs. Rose, visited Curaçao and Venezuela, studying especially the cactus deserts about La Guaira and Puerto Cabello. A number of photographs were taken by Mrs. Rose.
While en route for Venezuela, arrangements were made with Mr. Harold G. Foss to make a collection of cacti at Coro, Venezuela. Among the specimens obtained were species not found farther east in Venezuela, so far as known.
In 1916 Dr. Britton, assisted by Mr. Percy Wilson, studied the cacti of Havana and Matanzas Provinces and those of the Isle of Pines, Cuba.
In 1918 Dr. Rose, assisted by George Rose, visited Ecuador on behalf of the United States Department of Agriculture, aided by the Gray Herbarium of Harvard University and the New York Botanical Garden; about thirty rare or little known species were obtained.
Through the expenditure of about $2,400, contributed by Dr. Britton, a very important collection of cacti was made by Dr. J. A. Shafer during a six months' exploration from November 1916 to April 1917 of the desert regions of northwestern Argentina, southeastern Bolivia, northeastern Argentina, and adjacent Uruguay and Paraguay. Fortunately, for the purposes of this work, this collection was brought back to New York by Dr. Shafer in time for the information yielded by it and by his field observations to be used in the manuscript. It has given us first-hand information concerning over 120 species of cacti as to which we have previously known little.
There are still a few cactus regions which ought to be explored, but the following summary will show the wide field from which we have obtained information.
Our field investigations have covered practically all the cactus deserts of Mexico. The most important of these are the vicinities of Tehuacán and Tomellín, the plains of San Luis Potosí, the chalky hills surrounding Ixmiquilpan, the lava fields in the Valley of Mexico and above Cuernavaca, the deserts of Querétaro, the west coast of Mexico extending from the United States border to Acaponeta, and the seacoasts and islands of Lower California. Other regions in Mexico containing cacti, but not in such great abundance as the foregoing, are those about Pachuca, Oaxaca City, Mitla, Jalapa, Iguala, Chihuahua City, and Guadalajara. All the work in Mexico, however, was done prior to 1912, for, owing to political disturbances, no field work there has been feasible since that time.
In the United States our work has extended over the cactus regions of Florida, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, southern California, western Kansas, and southeastern Colorado.
In the West Indies we have explored all of the Greater Antilles, the Bahamas, the Virgin Islands, St. Christopher, Antigua, Barbados, and Curaçao.
In South America our field study included the most important deserts of Peru, Bolivia, and Chile, and parts of Brazil, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Argentina. The cactus deserts of South America are so extensive and so remote from one another that it was possible to visit only a part of them in the four seasons allowed for their exploration.
Among many enthusiastic volunteers whose contributions of specimens and data have greatly supplemented our own collections and field studies, the following deserve especial mention:
Mr. Henry Pittier has made valuable sendings from Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, Costa Rica, and Mexico; Mr. o. F. Cook, from Guatemala and Peru; Mr. G. N. Collins, the late Federico Eichlam, Mr. R. H. Peters, Mr. C. C. Deam, Mrs. T.
D. A. Cockerell, Baron H. von Türckheim, and the late Professor W. A. Kellerman have sent important collections from Guatemala; Mr. A. Tonduz, Mr. Otón Jiménez, Dr. A. Alfaro, Mr. C. Wercklé, and Mr. Alfred Brade, local collectors and naturalists in Costa Rica, have sent much good material from their country; Mr. William R. Maxon has sent new and rare material from Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Cuba; Professor C. Conzatti and his son, Professor Hugo Conzatti, Dr. C. A. Purpus, Dr. Elswood Chaffey, Mrs. Irene Vera, M. Albert de Lautreppe, and the late Mr. E. A. H. Tays have sent us many interesting specimens from Mexico; Mr. W. E. Safford made a valuable collection in Mexico in 1907 E. W. Nelson and
E. A. Goldman, who have collected so extensively in Mexico and the Southwest, have obtained many herbarium and living specimens for our use; Mrs. Gaillard, who lived at Panama several years while the late Colonel D. D. Gaillard was a member of the Isthmian Canal Commission, collected interesting cacti, including Epiphyllum gaillardae; the late Dr. H. E. Hasse sent specimens from southern California and Arizona; C. R. Orcutt, the well-known cactus fancier, has aided us in many ways besides sending us specimens from his collections; Dr. R. E. Kunze has frequently sent specimens, especially from Arizona; General Timothy E. Wilcox, for whom Wilcoxia was named, has sent us specimens from the Southwest, while his son, Dr. G. B. Wilcox, contributed several sendings from the west coast of Mexico and Guatemala; Dr. D. T. MacDougal has sent many specimens from all over the Southwest, especially from Mexico, Arizona, and southern California; he has made several excursions into remote deserts, which have yielded interesting results, and has contributed many excellent photographs, quite a number of which are reproduced in this report (Plate 1, etc.). Professor F. E. Lloyd, while located in Arizona and in Zacatecas, Mexico, made large collections of living, herbarium, and formalin material, often accompanied by valuable field notes, sketches, and photographs. Dr. Forrest Shreve has sent specimens, especially from northern Arizona and Mr. W. H. Long from New Mexico; Mr. S. B. Parish and Mr. W. T. Schaller have furnished interesting specimens and valuable notes on southern California species; Professor J. J. Thornber has made valuable contributions of material and notes from Arizona; Mr. M. E. Jones, Mr. I. Tidestrom, Mr. Thomas
H. Kearney, and Professor A. O. Garrett have all sent specimens from Utah; Professor T. D. A. Cockerell and Mr. Merritt Cary have sent specimens from Colorado; Dr. P. A. Rydberg has brought many specimens from the Rocky Mountain region; Messrs. Paul C. Standley, E. O. Wooton, Vernon Bailey, and H. L. Shantz have sent specimens from the southwestern United States; Brother León, of the Colegio de la Salle, Havana, and Dr. Juan T. Roig, of the Estación Agronómica, Santiago de las Vegas, Cuba, have contributed Cuban specimens, and Dr. J. A. Shafer has collected widely in Cuba; Mr. William Harris, of Hope Gardens, Jamaica, has collected for us in Jamaica; Dr. John K. Small has obtained collections from nearly all over the southeastern United States, aided by Mr. Charles Deering. Dr. Henry H. Rusby and Dr. Francis W. Pennell have contributed plants and specimens from Colombia, collected in 1917 and 1918. Mr. Frederick V. Coville, of the United States Department of Agriculture, has made many valuable suggestions during the progress of the investigation.
In our studies we have also had use of the cacti of the following American collections: Herbarium of the Missouri Botanical Garden at St. Louis; the Gray Herbarium of Harvard University; the Rocky Mountain Herbarium at Laramie, Wyoming; the collection of the United States Department of Agriculture; the herbarium of the University of California, especially the Brandegee collection; and the herbarium of the Field Museum of Natural History.
The types of the new species described in this work are deposited in the herbaria of the New York Botanical Garden and the United States National Museum, unless otherwise indicated.
In greenhouse collections many kinds of cacti grow very slowly, and flower only after many years' cultivation. We have a number of plants of this kind from various parts of America. It is hoped that some of them may bloom during the period of publication of this book and thus enable us to include them in an appendix.
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