A little history lesson about Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden - Part 1

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

David Fairchild
David Fairchild (1869-1954) was one of the greatest plant explorers of all time. At the age of 22, he created the Section of Foreign Seed and Plant Introduction of the United States Department of Agriculture, and for the next 37 years, he traveled the world in search of plants of potential use to the American people. His far-reaching travels brought into cultivation in the U.S. many important plants, including mangos, alfalfa, nectarines, dates, horseradish, bamboos and flowering cherries.

Dr. Fairchild retired to Miami in 1935, sharing his vast knowledge and experience in tropical plants with Col. Robert H. Montgomery, who founded the botanical garden and named it to honor his friend. Many plants still growing in the Garden were collected and planted by Dr. Fairchild, including a giant African baobab tree not far from the entrance. In 1940 Dr. Fairchild embarked on the first official collecting expedition for FTBG, sailing from the Philippines to the Indonesian archipelago on a special oceangoing Chinese junk called the Cheng Ho. The voyage provided many of the early botanical specimens before the outbreak of World War II forced the explorers to return home.



Robert H. Montgomery and David Fairchild,
founders of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden,
at the dedication ceremony,
March 23, 1938

Here is a list of plants that were collected by David Fairchild and are currently alive.  The accession number can be seen on the metal label on each plant.

Plants Collected by David Fairchild Currently in FTBG (from FTBG Plant Records)

Arenga tremula (DF126A, DF126B) plots 149, 70.  Collected in the Philippines.

Barringtonia racemosa (X.3-64A, B) plot 55A.  Collected in the Philippines. 

Bulnesia arborea (X.13-90A, C) plots 34, 37.  Collected in Venezuela

Capparis micrantha var. henryi (X.5-109A) plot 27C.  Collected Celebes, Indonesia

Clerodendrum minahassae var. brevitubulosum (X.3-47A) plot 51. Collected Celebes, Indonesia

Diospyros digyna (X.3-28A) plot 35.  Collected Luzon, Philippines.

Diospyros maritima (X.3-197A, B) plot 35.  Collected on El Templo Island, Philippines.

Diospyros subrhomboidea (X.5-111A, B) plot 35.  Collected Celebes, Indonesia.

Dracaena sp. (X.9-13A, B) plot 27D.  Collected in Indonesia.

Dracaena sp. (X.4-133F) plot 32B.  Collected Celebes, Indonesia.

Ficus subcordata (X.3-56A, B) plot 28.  Collected Luzon, Philippines.

Ficus tinctoria (X.5-112A) plot 95.  Collected Celebes, Indonesia.

Hernandia sonora (DF 311B) plot 21.  Collected Moluccas, Indonesia.

Myrciaria vexator (X.5-36A, B, C) plot 46.  Collected in Venezuela.

Nauclea orientalis (X.3-101D) plot 25.  Collected Luzon, Philippines.

Pittosporum moluccanum (X.7-18A) plot 21. Collected Tagapula Island, Philippines.

Premna odorata (DF 196A) plot 51.  Collected Celebes, Indonesia

Sterculia ceramica (DF 235A, M) plots 35, 61.  Collected Celebes, Indonesia.

Swinglea glutinosa (DF 1005A) plot 39.  Cultivated at the USDA Plt Introduction Station

Click on map to enlarge