The Flora Borinqueña Digital Herbarium and Library presents items from the LuEsther T. Mertz Library and Archives and the William and Lynda Steere Herbarium relating to the flora of Puerto Rico. Although the digitization aspect is new, the research program that generated the data actually began 100 years ago, and helped established The Garden’s reputation as a center for the study of tropical American plant and fungal biodiversity.
In February 1906, Nathaniel and Elizabeth Britton, founders of The New York Botanical Garden, embarked on their first trip to Puerto Rico, beginning an association with the island that continued the rest of their lives. From 1906 until 1933, The Brittons and their collaborators carried out 16 expeditions to Puerto Rico, during which they collected 10,139 specimens, resulted in 38 new species of flowering plants, lichens, fungi and algae.
Britton’s major scientific publication resulting from this work was the multivolume Botany of Porto Rico and the Virgin Islands (1923-1930). At the time of his death in 1934, he was nearing completion of a popular flora of the island, which was to include non-technical descriptions in English and Spanish of approximately 400 species, illustrated with watercolor paintings by Frances Horne. Horne, a North American who lived in Puerto Rico for 45 years, also illustrated Danforth’s Los Pájaros de Puerto Rico (1934) , and Little, Wadsworth and Marerro’s Árboles Comunes de Puerto Rico y las Islas Virgenes (1967).
The manuscript and illustrations for Flora Borinqueña were never published, but have never been entirely forgotten by the botanical community. The Flora Borinqueña Digital Herbarium and Library makes these available to the public for the first time, and links them to the digitized specimens upon which the flora was based. Also linked is the scanned text of Britton’s works on the Puerto Rican flora, as well as other sources of supplementary information held in The Garden’s Archives, including Britton’s original field books and photographs from the Britton’s expeditions their work. Added to these items will be ethnobotanical information that has been accumulated by Prof. Nilda González and Prof. José García Luiña of Servicio de Extensión Agrícola, Colegio de Ciencias Agrícolas, Recinto Universitario de Mayagüez, Universidad de Puerto Rico.
To search for taxa included in Flora Borinqueña, enter search terms below. Common names and descriptions can be searched in English or Spanish, but most records are in English only. For an index to the species and watercolors in Flora Borinqueña, view the tentative sequence of the species descriptions that N. L. Britton suggested for publication or the alphabetical index of taxa.
This project is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's 122,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute's mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas.