The Flower Files

November 22, 1996

The Flower Files

Flower Need some flowers to brighten up the office?

The U.S. National Agricultural Library, along with the University of Pittsburgh and the Michigan State Cooperative Extension Service created an online image collection ( of plants and flowers hand-painted in the Curtis Botanical Magazine's collection of prints published between 1797 and 1827, which include drawings of flower species that have become extinct. The searchable database of technically and aesthetically marvelous prints displays images along with horticultural information about each flower. The collection ranges from such sweet-sounding flowers as the "Ever-blowing Rose" and the "Kiss-Me-Over-the-Garden-Gate" to provocative ones like "Lady of the Night" and "Mother of Thousands" to the tongue-twisting "Fiddle-leaved Physic-nut" and the "Hairy Wachendorfia"

University of Pittsburgh Professor Jim Williams, who managed the technical side of putting the collection on-line, said the demand for the collections was so high at the National Agricultural Library(NAL), it was necessary to put the slides on the Internet to be available to the world.

"The NAL maintains enormous collections of slides that are important to entomologists and biologists," Williams said. "Even people who design wallpaper go there because they want to see the flowers to design flowered patterns."

If you have a color printer, the hand painted flowers would make great wall hangings. You might, however, want to avoid the other photo collection on the web site--a database of plant diseases and pests like the not-so-pretty "Wooly alder aphid."

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