Correspondence of Charles Peck and G. W. Clinton
Edited by P. M. Eckel
Res Botanica
Missouri Botanical Garden

March 4, 2011
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The Correspondence of

Charles Peck (1833-1917) and

George William Clinton (1807-1885)


1868 part 2



Vol. 5 (176) [B50, three pieces of paper, one a small drawing on perhaps herbarium paper glued onto the second sheet]


Albany, Nov. 3d 1868

My Dear Sir,


Very glad am I to hear from you. There has been much inquiry after you of late and I am no longer obliged to say I have not heard from you in a long time.


"Rev. M. A. Curtis,


North Carolina"


is the address of the fungus man. You doubtless know him by his botanical reputation. I quote the portion of his letter to which I took the liberty to allude.


"I have had a treatise on the edible mushrooms of America ready  for publication these two or three years; but I can find no  publisher willing to risk it. Printing and engraving are expensive,  and publishers have little idea that a book with colored plates,  upon a subject they never heard of and care nothing about, can have  remunerative sales. They may be right; but I am ready to furnish drawings and descriptions as soon as any one will publish."


In his Catalogue of the plants of North Carolina he gives over one  hundred edible species, and in his letter he says he has them (mushrooms)  constantly on his table. I am confident his book would be very useful if it  could be published. No one in this country is so capable of treating this  subject.


I had been testing in a small way Rafinesque's rule for determining poisonous species and found it entirely unreliable. Judge of my satisfaction when Dr. Curtis, without knowing what I had been doing, wrote thus, "The direction of the Cookery books to test the quality of mushrooms by an onion or a silver spoon - these becoming discolored by a poisonous species - is sheer nonsense. I have tried with the most poisonous kinds and the spoon when it came out, if changed at all, was brighter."


I use the microscope only by daylight, believing it to be bad for the eyes to use it in artificial light.


I have looked over a part of my Phaenogams - find Vaccinium caespitosum (in fruit only) from the top of Whiteface Mountain, Potamogeton amplifolius from Edmond Pond, N. Elba and a Rubus from Sand Lake which I almost believe a new species, meriting the name R. neglecta.


I have known the berries from my boyhood - we called them "Cream berries" - but had carelessly passed the plant by botanically as a variety of R. occidentalis. A careful examination reveals more differences than are sometimes used to make species.


Its mode of growth and appearance is like that of R. occidentalis, but  the prickles are more numerous and straight (sometimes recurved on the  flowering branches and petioles) the veinlets are more prominent on the  underside of the leaves, calyx hispid, berries when fully ripe dark red  with a whitish bloom. Their taste is like neither the red nor the black  raspberries but quite as rich and pleasant as either.


There is a specimen of Tillaea simplex in the Beck Collection, in  general appearance not unlike the plant sent in my last, but the details  differ. Mine has constantly 2 sepals, petals, &c., which will make it come  under Elatine. I send a sketch of the parts of the flower, something as  they appeared when fresh [pencil drawing on card glued to the page]. I  think it must be one of two things Elatine Americana var. or Elatine -  n.sp., the large rose colored spreading petals constituting its chief  distinctive feature, its small size, slender stems, close and erect growth  giving it a peculiar look. I want yet to examine the seeds under the  microscope. Mrs. Peck joins me in kindest regards.


Very truly yours


Charles H. Peck

Judge G. W. Clinton

 Received Nov. 5 & answered



Vol. 5 (182) [B44]

Albany, Nov. 12th 1868

My Dear Sir,


I shall be able to furnish you a specimen of the Potamogeton  amplifolius and of Vaccinium caespitosum but unfortunately have of the  Rubus only the specimens I want to put in the State Herbarium. It was a  little too late, when I visited Sand Lake, to get good specimens and the  plant is only rarely found; but next year I intend not to be caught so. I  have added three species of Juncus to the herbarium, one of which is  apparently new to our flora. It is from Coney Island and I believe it to be  the true J. maritimus. I also find a single unmistakable specimen of  Goodyera Menziesii among my Adirondack captures.


Will Carex gynocrates, the sub-staminate state, be of any interest to  you? It is from one of the Jordonville swamps. I shall commence the  examination of my Cryptogams soon.


[note the RUSH was due to the fact that the unknown plants would soon all be known, and whoever knew it first would achieve undying fame]


Prof. Hall says the slab containing tracks has not yet been received from Rev. Mr. Cowles.


Very truly yours


Charles H. Peck

Judge G. W. Clinton

 Received Nov. 14



Vol. 5 (185) [B40]

Albany, Nov. 20th 1868

My Dear Sir,


I enclose what they gave me for you at the book store.


Austin sent to me a single plant of the Cynosurus cristatus,  also a single one of his Danthonia compressa, n.sp. - the trivial  name being from the compressed culm. The points wherein it differs from D. spicata are a looser panicle, long subulate teeth of the  palet and a small tuft of hairs jsut below the flower. Probably the stem is more compressed but htis is not perceptible in the dried  specimen. 


I have about concluded to call the little Elatine a distinct species  from E. americana. Pursh describes his Peplis americana as apetalous and says the flower is so small as to require a microscope to see it. Other  descriptions of E. americana attribute to it a minute corolla and none  agree with my plant which has a corolla quite conspicuous for the size of  the plant and plainly visible to the naked eye even in the dried state.


I have at least ten species of moss new to the state only one or two of which are in the Manual. I have also a few new Hepaticae and I think about 200 lichens.


I have received from Prof. Braun some descriptions of species of Chara  and Nitella. He attributes, in these papers, a dozen species of these  genera to America. I have at least half of them from this state.


I am working with all my might to get through with my specimens in time to make up a report (of what I have) for the Secretary by the 1st January.



Yours very truly


Charles H. Peck

 Judge G. W. Clinton

 Received Nov. 22




Vol. 5 (188) [B37]

Albany, Dec. 1st 1868


My Dear Sir,


The mosses are

No 1 Dicranum scoparium, L.

   2 Atrichum angustatum, Beauv.

   3 Dichelyma capillaceum, Bryol. Europ.


I do not remember receiving this last one from you before. In a recent  letter from Mr. Lesquereux he inquires after you and requests me to give  you his sincere regards.


Very truly yours


Charles H. Peck


Judge G. W. Clinton

 Received Dec. 4



Vol. 5 (193) [B32]

Albany, Dec. 12th 1868

My Dear Sir,


I had intended to come to Buffalo ere this and see you and look over  your duplicates for desiderata of the State Herbarium, but I have been so  crowded with work in examining the collections of the past season that I  have not found time, nor do I now see how I can do so and yet get my things ready to report at the beginning of the year. I will do the next best  thing, and send a list of plants that have been reported and which it seems desirable to have represented in the Herbarium though many of them are garden scapes. I would be glad if I could give you credit in my report for furnishing some of these.


I regret thus to be deprived of the pleasure of seeing you and your collection but shall still hope to do so at a future time.


We expect to see you here at the Annual Meeting of the Regents.


I have examined the seeds of the little Elatine sent you some time ago  and send you the result in a rude sketch. They appear to be pitted at  intervals, the interspaces being about equal to the diameter of the  impressions. In E. americana the seed is wrinkled the wrinkles or ridges  separating the impressions and, under the microscope, appearing along the margin of the seed like little elevations or protuberances. These do not appear in the others.


I have also looked at Nuttalls figure of his [Cryta?] minima and find  the stem there represented as having 6 tubes. In my plant there are 8. I  have concluded to describe it as a n.sp. and with your permission I will  dedicate it to you as a token of regard for your many acts of kindness to  me and for your earnest labors in botany.


I find in Torrey and Gray's Flora of North America the following  reference, apparently, to my Rubus neglectus. It is under their description  of R. occidentalis " Mr. Oakes sends specimens collected by Mr. Robbins at Cambridge, Vermont, which are said to bear fruit intermediate between the two, and the habit of the plant is apparently intermediate. 'It is distinguished by the inhabitants and was pointed out by them'. The specimens seem to belong rather to R. strigosus."


These remarks confirm me in my belief that it is a good species, for I  am sure they would never have referred the plant I have in mind, to R.  strigosus, if they had seen it growing or had been supplied with good  specimens. Its mode of growth is just like R. occidentalis - in a clump or  bush with long recurved stems.


Yours very truly


Charles H. Peck


Judge G. W. Clinton

 Received Dec. 14, answered 17th