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William and Lynda Steere Herbarium (NYBG)

Nature's Nobleman: Botanical Legacies of William Canby

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Uncover the historic plant collections of a 19th century amatuear naturalist

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William and Lynda Steere Herbarium (NYBG)

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One of the most distinguished amateur botanists from the 19th century is railway man and philanthropist William M. Canby. Over a 40-year career, Canby collected tens of thousands of wild plants, organized his own herbarium, and financed dozens of expeditions across the United States. Despite having few academic credentials, Canby earned a stellar reputation among leading contemporary naturalists of his time, including Asa Gray and John Muir, who accompanied him on many collecting trips. Even Charles Darwin was impressed by Canby’s acumen for observation, especially relating to carnivorous plants such as the Venus flytrap(Dionea). Modern-day citizen scientists can carry on Canby’s legacy by helping to document all 30,000 of his original plant specimens that now reside within The New York Botanical Garden herbarium.

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Minimum Age: 13

Languages: English

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