The University of North Carolina Herbarium
(NCU) has catalogued approximately 40 of James Benedict's specimens. With
only about 10% of the collection catalogued, no doubt more specimens
collected by him will be found. He usually used "J. E. Benedict" on
Benedict collected specimens throughout the
southeastern United States. The earliest specimen that we have found to date
is Gratiola viscidula collected in 1925 from the District
of Columbia, while the latest we have found is Lygodium palmatum
collected in 1960 from Charles County, Maryland.
Many of NCU’s specimens collected by Benedict
were sent as gifts from the Herbarium at Virginia Polytechnic Institute. For more information on Benedict’s
specimens at VPI, see Mitchell, Richard S. and Leonard J. Uttal (1970) The Benedict plant and seed collections now
at Virginia Polytechnic Institute.
Castanea 35(2): 150-152.
In June, 2010 Salli Benedict (granddaughter of
James Benedict), Gwendolyn Cummings and Jason Cummings, visited the
University of North Carolina Herbarium, and curators showed them some of
Benedict’s fern specimens. Another
granddaughter, Betsy Benedict, visited the Massey Herbarium at Virginia
9, 2010 : Found our way to the biology building and
met the friendly and informative curator of the herbarium, Tom Wieboldt. He was so welcoming and open… he was
generous with his time and showed us so many things. He showed us where the ferns are, most
mounted as they were originally. He
showed us the field note journals that were donated and said they were still
being used, also that the ferns are still being used for research. Showed us some ferns that have never been
mounted that are still layered in the original newspapers… and the seed
collection that I didn’t even know he had, and some huge pine cones – as big
as pineapples – that he shows to students to pique their interest in
biology. This was more than I could
ever have hoped for and well worth the effort to make the connection. I learned more about Granddaddy than I had
known and it was great to have [my sons] Ben and Christopher make this
Benedict, James (1953) Autobiography of and by JAMES E.
BENEDICT graduating from Biltmore
Forest School (pp. 198-201) in 1907 IN The
Biltmore Immortals. L.C. Wittich,
Washington, D.C., February 4, 1885
1887 to 1889 lived in St. Paul, Minnesota, where my father was in the real
1889: Returned to Washington where my
father entered the services of the United States National Museum as assistant
curator of Marine Invertebrates.
Primary education in elementary and high schools of Washington and nearby
Maryland. Graduated from Central High
School in June 1906.
Entered Biltmore Forest School in October 1906. Graduated in September 1907.
September 1907 secured temporary position in the Seed Laboratory of the U.S.
Department of Agriculture. Position
made permanent under Civil Service in 1908.
October 1910: Established and operated
for a year the Virginia State Seed Laboratory in Richmond.
October 1911: Established and operated
the first complete commercial seed testing laboratory for the Seed Trade
Reporting Bureau in Chicago.
December 28, 1911: Married Frances
Burket in Washington and returned to Chicago.
July 1912: Bought the seed testing
business from the Seed Trade Reporting Bureau and moved it to Washington
where I have been operating it ever since under the name of Commercial Seed
1919: Opened branch laboratory in
On the side have given several lecture courses on Bryophytes and general
field botany at George Washington University and Catholic University. Am a member of the Biological Society of
Washington, the Washington Biologists’ Field Club and the American Fern
Hobbies: My main hobby is collecting
plants, mostly ferns and grasses of which I have an herbarium of about 3000
mounted sheets. Have covered much of
the United States on automobile field trips with various botanists, chiefly
Dr. Edgar T. Wherry of the University of Pennsylvania and have obtained many
plants by exchanging with collectors in foreign countries. Also collect seeds and have a seed
herbarium of several thousand specimens.
Among minor hobbies, now dropped, was archery and for several years
was a member of the Potomac Archers.
Paternal grand-parents: James Benedict
and Thirsa Dibble Benedict, both of old established Connecticut families of
Maternal grand-parents: Charles Junken
from Hannover, Germany and Eliza Morrison Junken of Scotch-Irish parentage.
Father: James Everard Benedict,
Phd. Born in South Norwalk,
Connecticut, January 5, 1854.
Graduated from Union College in 1880.
Was resident naturalist on board the U.S. Fish Commission steamers
“Fish Hawk” and “Albatross” for several years after graduation. Married Elizabeth Morrison Junken in
November 1883. After two-year try at
the real estate business in St. Paul, Minn., he returned to scientific
activities in Washington. His work at
the National Museum consisted mainly of systematic studies of marine
crustaceans and annelids. At his
retirement, in 1930, he held the position of Chief of Biological
Exhibits. As a sideline, he
manufactured deepsea sounding devices, many thousand of which were used by
the U.S. Navy during World War I. He
retired from government service in 1930 and died January 7, 1940.
Mother: Elizabeth Morrison Benedict,
born in Washington, D.C., August 4, 1861.
Died February 1, 1940.
Brother: Charles Junken Benedict, born
September 24, 1887.
Sisters: Elizabeth Jenny Benedict,
born November 25, 1889. Ruth Benedict,
born June 24, 1892.
Wife: Frances Burket Benedict. Born March 2, 1887 in Washington, D.C. Graduated from Central High School,
Washington, in 1908. Employed in Seed
Laboratory, U.S. Department of Agriculture until our marriage in 1911. A trained seed analyst, she has been a real
help in running the laboratory whenever time and circumstances permitted.
Daughter: Frances Benedict, born May
15, 1913, graduated from University of Maryland in 1936. Hel positions in three separate government
agencies engaged in scientific work; Bureau of Home Economics, Bureau of
Standards and National Archives. Died
July 15, 1950.
Son: James Everard Benedict III, born
March 1st, 1915, graduated from University of Alabama engineer
school in 1940. Being in the R.O.T.C.,
he was called in the Army in 1941 before Pearl Harbor. As an engineer attached to the Air Force he
spent twenty-seven months in the Pacific theatre during World War II. His speciality [sic] was building landing strips.
In 1945 married Josephine Mosley Smith. They have two children, Sarah Frances
Benedict, aged five, and James Everard Benedict IV, aged two. Is now in the Air Force with rank of
lieutenant-colonel stationed at Langley Field, Virginia.
Son: Joseph Burket Benedict, born
April 25, 1922. After several years of
pre-flight and flying training in various camps, he received commission as a
pilot in the Air Force and was expecting over-seas assignment when the war
ended in 1945. Entered Virginia
Polytechnic Institute and graduated in 1949.
Married Rebecca Mosley in 1947.
Two children, Anne Farrior Benedict and Judith Benedict, three and two
years old respectively. Joseph is
branch manager of the Universal C.I.T. Credit corporation in their
Wilmington, Del. [Delaware], office.
Obituary, Washington Post
1970 [A more complete citation will be provided when it is found.]
Ran Seed Testing Laboratory: James E. Benedict
Jr. Dead at 84
James E. Benedict Jr., 84, who operated a seed
testing laboratory in the Washington area for 56 years, died Wednesday after
surgery at Washington Sanitarium and Hospital in Silver Spring.
Mr. Benedict graduated from the Biltmore
Forestry School in North Carolina and, in 1913, opened his laboratory at 945
Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
The firm, which analyzed seed quality for
commercial houses, did business there for 50 years, until the site was
acquired by the federal government in 1963 for the new FBI [Federal Bureau of
Investigation] building now under construction.
Mr. Benedict then moved the laboratory to 901
Pershing Dr., Silver Spring, where he continued to do business as Commercial
Seed Laboratories until his death.
Born in Washington, he attended Central High
School here. He taught a course in botany at George Washington University in
the 1930's and 40's and until recently conducted an annual student nature
hike through Rock Creek Park.
He was a past president of the Washington
Biologists Field Club and was a member of the Washington Botanical Society.
He had lived at 9403 Warren St., Silver Spring for more than 50 years.
Survivors include two sons, James E. III of
Hollywood, Fla. [Florida], and Joseph B., of Greeville, Del. [Delaware]; two
sisters, Elizabeth J. Benedict and Ruth Benedict, both of Silver Spring, and
1. Benedict, J. E., Jr. (1924) An occurrence
of the Southern Maiden-hair in Maryland. American Fern Journal
On the stone wall built around a spring on the Noyes Estate in the new
subdivision of Woodside Park, Montgomery County, Maryland, the writer
discovered in the fall of 1922 a thriving plant of the southern Maiden-hair, Adiantum
Capillus-Veneris L. The fronds shriveled up during the winter but new
ones came out the following spring, and when they appeared to have attained
their maximum development, in July, were photographed and a few fronds
collected. Shortly thereafter the plant disappeared, having evidently been
pulled up by some chance visitor; although the clearing of the land for
building purposes would soon have obliterated the locality in any case.
Tests of the reaction material (a mixture of
fragments of cement and decomposed moss) in which the roots of the fern were
imbedded, made by Dr. Edgar T. Wherry, showed a specific alkalinity of 10.
The spring water itself was neutral and the alkalinity evidently came from
the decomposing cement.
How the plant got there in the first place can
not be definitely determined, although there is a greenhouse less than half a
mile away and the spores may well have come from there, on of the reaching by
chance this favorable location on the spring wall. The noteworthy fact in the
case is that this southern species was able to establish and maintain itself
over one winter at least, so far north; the spring is located approximately
ten miles north of Washington. – J. E. Benedict, Jr., Washington, D.C.
2. Benedict, J. E., Jr. (1932) Dryopteris
floridana (Hook.) Kuntze in North Carolina. American Fern
Journal 22(2): 56.
Early in April, 1931, the writer was one of a party, composed mostly of
George Washington University botany students under the leadership of Dr.
Robert F. Griggs, which visited the Coastal Plain section in eastern North
Carolina. April 6th and 7th found us camped on the north shore of beautiful
Lake Waccamaw in Columbus County. The lake at this point is separated only by
a narrow ridge of sand, a few yards in width, from a cypress swamp. Along the
north edge of this swamp is an area, wet and muddy but not perpetually
inundated, lying between the water and the high, cultivated ground. Here the
writer found a colony of several dozen plants of Dryopteris floridana
(Hook.) Kuntze (J. E. Benedict, Jr., no. 1247). In addition to being the
first record of this fern in the state of North Carolina it is a northward
extension of its range of approximately 120 miles, the former most northerly
station being in the vicinity of Charleston, S. C. The Waccamaw plants are
noteworthy also in being of unusually large size, one fruiting frond in the
collection of the writer being 118 centimeters long. Specimens have been
deposited in the U.S. National Herbarium in Washington and in the herbarium
of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. – J. E. Benedict, Jr.,
3. Benedict, J.E., Jr. (1947) A new form of Asplenium
platyneuron. American Fern Journal 37(1): 11-12.
Last October I spent a week-end in St. Mary’s County, Maryland, along the
lower Potomac River. While walking along a woodland road I noticed a fringe
of Ebony Spleenwort growing on the low bank at the edge of the road. Among
the plants was a fern that I took at first glance to be another species. A
closer inspection, however, showed it to be an unusually luxuriant plant of
Ebony Spleenwort, with fronds more dissected than is characteristic of any of
the named form or varieties.
The plant was growing in the Gum-Pine
association common to this section, in which the dominant species are Sweet
Gum (Liquidambar styraciflua) and Loblolly Pine (Pinus
taeda). Associated plants were Ilex opaca, Myrica cerifera,
and Quercus rubra (Spanish Oak), with an undergrowth of Vaccinium,
Gaylussacia, and other plants. The soil, locally called “white oak soil”
because of its extreme hardness, is known as Leonardtown loam, a form in
which clay predominates.
Asplenium platyneuron f. dissectum Benedict,
A f. typica pinnis usque ad 4 cm. longis, subpinnatis, segmentis
7-11-jugis, anguste oblongo-spathulatis, sub-pinnatifidis, ala costali
perangusta vel subnulla recedit.
Type in the U.S. National Herbarium, No. 1,896,275, collected in woods along
“Back Road” at Lanedon (Valley Lee P.O.), St. Mary’s County, Maryland,
October 21, 1945, by J. E. Benedict (No. 5230).
This form is nearest to f. Hortonae
(Davenp.) L. B. Smith, of which an isotype is in the National Herbarium, but
in that form the pinnae are only pinnatifid (the costal wing being relatively
broad) and the segments are subentire. In f. dissectum the plants are almost
bipinnate-pinnatifid, the primary pinnae being pinnatisect nearly or quite to
the costa and the ultimate segments deeply pinnatifid.
[Volume 37, Plate 1 on page 12 is a photograph of the plant.]
4. Benedict, J. E., Jr. (1950) A new form of
Lorinseria. American Fern Journal 40(2): 174-175.
Although the fronds of Lorinseria areolata and Onoclea
sensibilis are similar in general aspect, they can usually be told apart
at a distance by the undulate to deeply lobed margins of the primary lobes of
the Onoclea. Not so, however, in a large colony found by the writer
while on a visit to his on in Hampton, Virginia, last May. The fronds in this
colony had the lobing of Onoclea, but showed by their alternate
pinnae, finely serrate margins and chain-like venation along the principal
veins that they were really Lorinseria. The aspect and character
noted are brought out in the accompanying figure, kindly drawn by Mr. Joseph
A. Devlin. No fertile fronds were seen. The following formal name was
suggested by Dr. E. T. Wherry.
Lorinseria areolata (L.) Presl forma onocleoides
J. E, Benedict, f. nov.
A f. typica pinnis profunde pinnatifidis, lobis obtusis, usque ad 8
mm. longis et 6 mm. latis differt.
Differs from the typical form in having the pinnae all deeply lobed, the
lobes obtuse, up to 8 mm. long and 6 mm. broad.
Type in the U.S. National Herbarium, no. 1918314, collected one mile due west
of the village of Aberdeen Gardens, Elizabeth City County, Virginia, in a
loblolly-pine (Pinus taeda) woods, May 30, 1949, by J. E. Benedict,
Jr. (no. 5540). The station is 4 miles due north of Newport News, which,
however, is in another county.
Special thanks to Dr. Tom Wieboldt, Curator of VPI, for the gift to NCU in
2002 of several ferns collected in North Carolina by J. E. Benedict. Dr.
Wieboldt was also kind to provide a photocopy of the Washington Post obituary
of J. E. Benedict.