The Biannual Botanical Explorer

#OTD Mary Gibson Henry died today in (1884 – April 16, 1967).

She was born to be a plants-woman. Her family’s roots in horticulture went way back. Her great-grandfather, George Pepper, was a member of the First Council of the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society.

She became an avid botanist and plant collector and also served as president of the American Horticultural Society. The daylily Hymenocallis henryae is named in her honor.

In 1909, she married Dr. John Norman Henry. She had a large backyard garden and greenhouses. She had a splendid kitchen garden, native rock plants, and orchards.

Starting in 1929, she went on biannual plant collecting trips. On her first trip, she brought the family - 4 kids and her hubby. Not sure if she continued that, but over the next forty years, she went on over 200 botanical expeditions.

And, she figured out that plant collecting wasn’t for sissies, saying,

"I soon learned that rare and beautiful plants can only be found in places that are difficult of access ... Often one has to shove one's self through or wriggle under briars, with awkward results to clothing and many and deep cuts and scratches ... Wading, usually barelegged, through countless rattlesnake-infested swamps adds immensely to the interest of the day's work.”


On this day in April, Mary died in North Carolina doing what she loved to do: collecting plants.

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Mary Gibson Henry courtesy Royal BC Museum
Mary Gibson Henry courtesy Royal BC Museum
Mary Gibson Henry Grave
Mary Gibson Henry Grave