From Plant Press, Vol. 17, No. 3, July 2014.
By Meghann Toner and Rusty Russell
In early June, the U.S. National Herbarium hosted the Board of Directors of the Bull Run Mountains Conservancy, Inc. for their annual outing. The goal of this organization is to preserve the Bull Run Mountains through a strong program of education and research. The purpose of their visit was to connect with past research in the Bull Run Mountains by seeing firsthand the vouchers collected through the floristic work of Harry Ardell Allard (1880-1963), former U.S. Department of Agriculture biologist and Smithsonian collaborator. Allard’s collections are included with many others that document the diversity of the Washington DC -Baltimore Region. These collections are kept in the appropriately named Washington DC and Vicinity Herbarium segregated within our main collection. On the day of the visit Mark Strong and Meghann Toner gave a tour of the herbarium and Floyd Shockley provided a behind the scenes tour of the Department of Entomology.
The area of most interest to our first time visitors was the Allard collection. Allard, born in 1880, was a plant pathologist who found special pleasure in the plant diversity he saw on day trips through our region, especially the Bull Run Mountains. In 1943, he and E.C. Leonard coauthored “Vegetation and Floristics of Bull Run Mountains, Virginia” (Castanea 8: 1-64). More than a dozen of Allard’s 240 scientific publications focused on the Bull Run Mountains. The Board of Directors examined 15 Allard collections selected by Toner, as well as 2 of 34 types based on his collecting efforts. Each of these represents a snapshot in time and provides a tangible link to the past.
Allard is also well known for his studies in photoperiodism, not only of plants, but of birds and insects. A fascinating account of his life and work can be read on The Field Book Project blog.