Harvard Papers in Botany, Vol. 5, No. 1, 2000.


This issue of Harvard Papers in Botany is dedicated to Dr. Shiu Ying Hu, Botanist Emerita of the Arnold Arboretum. Dr Hu arrived in the United States from China in 1946 at the age of 36 to enter graduate school at Radcliffe College. Her doctoral dissertation on the genus Ilex (Aquifoliaceae) was carried out at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University under the direction of Professor E. D. Merrill. Before she arrived in the United States, Dr. Hu was already an accomplished botanist in China. She had conducted field work in western Sichuan in the late 1930s and early 1940s, at a time when only a few men, such as Armand David, Joseph Rock and E. H. Wilson, had been to that region for scientific exploration and before many women in any part of the world were actively involved in botanical field work.

By the time she obtained her doctorate degree in 1949, only three years after she arrived, she had successfully applied for funds from the American Philosophical Society to begin a project to write an account of the flora of China. In support of her grant application to the American Philosophical Society both Carl Sax, then director of the Arnold Arboretum, and Merritt L. Fernald wrote glowing letters of recommendation for her. Sax indicated that she was "exceptionally well qualified for the proposed research project" and that "she is one of the most competent and industrious students I have ever known, regardless of nationality." Those qualities have been obvious to all throughout Dr. Hu's career, and continue to be displayed in her `retirement'. Although retired from the Arnold Arboretum for more than 25 years, Dr. Hu continues to work more hours than many people half her age. Her interests in all aspects of plants, and particularly in the plants of China, and her curiosity and diligence have never waned. She entered the new century, still working 10 hour days and reading proofs of her 900 plus page book on the food plants of China, which will be published within the next few months.

Dr. Hu has always given freely of her time and knowledge to everyone and has set an outstanding example in her quiet, consistent and unassuming way. In honor of her many contributions and for her dedication to botany, and in recognition of all she has given to so many people over the years, both in the United States and China, the Chinese University of Hong Kong held a special symposium and birthday celebration in her honor on 18 February 2000. We wish to add to that tribute by dedicating this issue of Harvard Papers in Botany to Dr. Shiu Ying Hu.

David E. Boufford, Ph.D.
Assistant Director for Collections
Harvard University Herbaria