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Job Bicknell Ellis
by NYBG Herbarium Intern Jamie Ahn

1865-1878: Back to Mycology

Ellis and family moved to Newfield, New Jersey in early August and spending the rest of his years there, rarely moving around or venturing outside of Newfield. The next decade was spent on farming his 15 acres, tending peach orchards, teaching schools sporadically, and steadily developing his mycology (Kaye, 35). Because he was at the time of an early era of American mycology, he had to rely on Europeans for identifications and books at first and then built up his own American resources almost from scratch. He started to correspond with other mycologists and collectors in many countries being familiar with Latin, Greek, Polish, German, French, Swedish, Italian, and Spanish (Kaye, 35). Ellis continued to send out many specimens to other mycologist for determination. In 1875 to 1879, many specimens were sent to M. C. Cooke of England that ended up being published in Cooke's journal Grevillea with designations "Cooke & Ellis." (Kaye, 36). There were some disagreements in species concepts where it ended with Ellis no longer sending Cooke specimen and publishing them himself. His first scientific paper "New species of fungi found at Newfield, N.J." describing 16 new species and published in Bulletin of Torrey Botanical Club in NY in 1874 ( Kaye 36). His last 202nd publication appeared in 1905 after he died (Kaye, 36). Ellis had two volumes of artwork that are currently held in the New York Botanical Garden's Archival Library: Figures of North American Fungi, with 149 watercolor illustrations of fleshy fungi and 25 ink sketches of microscopic structures of various ascomycetes.

Ascomycetes and Pyrenomycetes

Ellis studied fungi of all groups but had a fond interest in Ascomycetes and in particular Pyrenomycetes. He named over 4000 species in Edith Cash's 1953-1954 work (Kaye, 36). Pyrenomycetes are the largest class in the phylum Ascomycota with distinguishing features in the ascoma, or perithecium, which gives rise to the common name for the class perithecial ascomycetes ("Pyrenomycetes"). There are approximately 6,000 species that are saprodes, parasites, hyperparasites, and cosmopolitans.

Exsiccate of his own

In 1876 Ellis started his contact with William Gilson Farlow of Harvard University. Farlow became a huge support and influence to Ellis. 1877 Ellis started his own exsiccate: Fungi Nova-Caesareenses (Fungi of New Jersey; FNC). By 1878 he dropped everything he was doing and devoted his whole time to fungi and distributed the first 2 copies of the first century (volumes containing 100 specimens) one to Farlow and one to Isaac C. Martindale of Philadelphia (Kaye 36). Farlow persuaded him to change the name of the exsiccate to North American Fungi (NAF) to expand the scope of series and to issue bound books rather than loose sheets Ellis also decided to write the exsiccate in English opposed to Latin (Kaye, 37). Few of FNC were reissued in the early centuries of NAF which eventually grew from 35 sets to 60 (century 17). Mrs. Ellis hand made subsequently 34 centuries and as the number of subscribers increased to 60 by the time of the last volume in 1898, she had made approximately 2000 books and prepared and packages some 200,000 specimen in those 20 years (Kaye, 37).

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