Griffiths Biography

Sun, 03 Mar 2013 22:44:16 PST
For my own interest and others here is biography of David Griffiths, 1867-1935

American botanist. David Griffiths was born in Aberystwyth, Wales, but emigrated to the United States with his family when he was three years old and grew up on a farm in South Dakota. After graduating from South Dakota Agricultural College in 1892 and receiving his MSc in 1893, he taught science at the local high school in Aberdeen for five years until he enrolled as a doctoral candidate at Columbia University in 1898. His research at this time was focused on the study of fungi and resulted in numerous published articles on powdery mildews, smuts, ergots and others in the Asa Gray Bulletin, Torrey Botanical Club Bulletin and elsewhere. 

After receiving his PhD in 1900, he was appointed professor of botany and botanist at the Experiment Station of the University of Arizona and there began his studies on grasses and other range plants. The following year he joined the Bureau of Plant Industry of the United States Department of Agriculture and for the next 15 years worked as an agrostologist in the Office of Grass and Forage Plant Investigations. This post involved extensive collecting of native pasture grasses, salt bushes, and cacti in the United States and northern Mexico. Griffiths became especially interested in the use of cacti and other xerophytic plants of the Southwest as emergency livestock feed in times of drought. He was also impressed by their economic importance as ornamental plants and assembled a comprehensive collection of species and varieties at the Plant Introduction Garden at Chico, California, including 3,500 numbers of Opuntia. 

His last twenty years were devoted to the study of bulbous plants. As senior horticulturalist on the Bureau's bulb production project, he gained a reputation as a specialist in the culture of imported and native bulbs. His contribution to botany is honoured by the grass genus Griffithsochloa G.J. Pierce (= Bouteloua Lag.) and by the eponyms Agropyron griffithsii Scribn. & J.G. Sm. and Atriplex griffithsii Standl.

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