Book Review: Thomas Walter and His Plants. The Life and Works of a Pioneer American Botanist
Ward, Daniel B. 2017. Thomas Walter and His Plants. The Life and Works of a Pioneer American Botanist. Memoirs of the New York Botanical Garden, Vol. 115, Heritage Series, Number 2. Bronx, New York. 220 p. Hardbound. $59.99. ISBN 978-0-89327-539-6. Thomas Walter (1740?–1789?) is a mystery man in many respects. His birth place and date are uncertain; the year of his death is in doubt. His supposed portrait is that of another man. Yet, Walter is an important figure in American botany. Walter’s Flora Caroliniana (1788) is the earliest regional flora using Linnaeus’ binomial nomenclature and sexual system of classification. Many well-known flowering plants were first described in Walter’s Flora, including Aesculus parviflora, Carpinus caroliniana, Cypripedium reginae, Frasera caroliniensis, Magnolia fraseri, Sarracenia rubra, and Utricularia inflata—all Walter’s coinages.