Modern Names for Historical Plants

I am trying to locate some plants that are named in Gene Stratton-Porter's book The Harvester. It is based in northern Indiana, and written in 1910. Many of the plants may have had local common names or now be considered rare. For example, I tried looking for "jewel flower" in the BHG plant encyclopedia, but there were no listings for that exact name. Could you refer me to a book or website that might tell me modern names for old plants? Thanks for any suggestions you can give!
Submitted by BHGPhotoContest

I pulled my 1928 copy of L. H. Bailey's "Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture" off the shelf to check on jewel flower. Like you, I found no exact match,but jewel-weed is listed. Jewel-weeds (Impatiens biflora and I. pallida) are native plants - certainly likely candidates for the jewel flower mentioned in the book. Check with the reference librarian at your local library or historical society. They may be able to show you materials on garden history or natural history that would fit the historic period and location. There are several historic gardens that have websites. The Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants is Historic Williamsburg in Virginia ( and Tryon Palace Historic Sites & Gardens in North Carolina ( also have a staff of garden history specialists. Garden History Links is a large collection of internet resource at There are a lot of books on the topic, for example "Gardens and Historic Plants of the Antebellum South", by James R. Cothran. Many of the books have a regional focus like this one. Here are a few other books- "Historic Virginia Gardens: Preservations by the Garden Club of Virginia", by Dorothy Hunt Williams; "Preservation and Restoration of Historic Gardens and Landscapes", by Grady Clay;
""Landscapes and Gardens for Historic Buildings: A Handbook for Reproducing and Creating Authentic Landscape Settings"", by Rudy Favretti. Favretti's book has plant lists and lots of references. Your library should be able to help you locate these and others for you on interlibrary loan.

Community Answers 0

Answer this Question

Enter an Answer to this Question
500 characters left