Herbaria Specialists. Plant Taxonomists

Ronald L. Jones, Ph. D
Foundation Professor of Biological Sciences
Eastern Kentucky University
Richmond, KY 40475

Dr. Ron Jones is a professional Plant Taxonomist who
participated in the Tropical Dendrology course in 2001. In April 2008 he wrote the following: 

  “ … I had been to Ecuador the year before to teach, and was interested in gaining additional knowledge to help me teach tropical biology courses.  This course certainly filled my needs.  It was one of the best learning experiences of my life.  Although it lasted only 2 weeks, I was able to absorb a great amount of material because of the manner in which the course was taught.  With Dr. Humberto Jimenez-Saa, the main organizer and instructor, and with 3 other specialists also involved, the students had a wealth of knowledge available to them during the two weeks. “

“Utilizing Dr. Jimenez´s Matrix method, we systematically were introduced to the typical families and genera in the region.  With the emphasis on family and generic features, we were instructed to keep careful notes on the most important characteristics, and to organize the notes into a form in which an unknown specimen could be quickly located. “

“ The instructors continually challenged us to identify specimens with our Matrix notes, and the students had great fun trying to see who could be the first to identify the specimen. Many of the participants did not have much background in botanical terminology and systematics, but they too became quite successful in their identifications.  The whole course was great fun, meeting people from many different countries and backgrounds, and especially being able to interact with these experienced specialists in tropical botany, and to share their obvious excitement in learning about their tropical flora.”

”I have since made two additional trips to Ecuador, and used my Matrix notes extensively and with great success on these trips.  In addition, I conducted a 4-month sabbatical study in 2007, with the assistance of Humberto, involving a study of woody plants of Los Cusingos,  in southern Costa Rica, and a property of the Tropical Science Center.   I had a number of resources available to help in identifying these woody plants, but my Matrix notebook was again of great help to me.  I often checked these notes first when I encountered a specimen that I did not immediately recognize as being in a particular family or genus.”

”Also, I completed a book in 2005, Plant Life of Kentucky, in which I provided keys and family descriptions for 2,600 taxa *.  In the preparation of these keys and descriptions, I found myself thinking about what I had learned about families in the Tropical Dendrology course, and this information helped to shape my thinking and how I described families and emphasized important characteristics.  I cannot overemphasize the importance of the Tropical Dendrology course in providing me a background to learn about tropical plants, and also in expanding my knowledge on the diversity of plant families.”

* JONES, RONALD L.; 2005.  Plant life of Kentucky; an illustrated guide to the vascular flora. Lexington, KY. University Press. 834 p.



For. Eng. Augustina Addai

Forestry Research Institute of Ghana
U.S.T. Box 63
Kumasi, Ghana, West Africa

Augustina received a fellowship from the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO). "The course is good, it is up to date; I even think that in the future it must be raised to a diploma level..." "I also think it is well organized because we have traveled within all the ecological zones of Costa Rica; it was not centralized only in San José..."

As flora in Africa is different than in Tropical America, Agustina was asked whether she had troubles to attend the course. She said: "No, ...because plant families are almost the same; only the species differ; so I think this course is useful, for everybody".


Dr. Keith Shawe
Forestry Department
The Natural Resources Institute

Chatham, Kent
United Kingdom


Keith has a M.Sc. and a Ph.D degree in Plant Taxonomy and took the course in 1996. He said: "...The advantage that I had, having done an M.Sc. and Ph.D. in plant taxonomy, which is most laboratory based, was that I was already familiar with most of the botanical terms, but most students caught up with those in the first week. So my big disadvantage was lack of field knowledge; everyone else started at the same position, and they are also here because they do not have field knowledge; so I do not think that having qualifications on plant taxonomy necessarily puts me ahead of the others, at all. So I think the course really is a general course for everyone from all backgrounds, whether or not you have a good technical background".

"Accommodations have been excellent; more than I expected, I must say. Costa Rica is a very developed country anyway, so the accommodation reflected the needs of the tourist who flock here in large numbers, we also had a fairly well organized daily structure, traveling, lunch, etc. The group as a whole tended in the first week of field work particularly to come together in the evening and discuss what we collected during the day and what the characteristics were; that helped enormously. We went from wet forest to dry forest and in between, and we sorted samples in each case that were specific to those habitats, or found elsewhere; there were a lot of exceptions even in the early days, exceptions to the rule, particular families, that was the only confusing thing for some people; .... but that is a minor criticism...".

"... I will certainly recommend it if anyone is interested, but for me it is a very good training for people intending to get into plant identification, whether it be running a variant, whether it be a cutting a plant, for specific purpose like medicinal plants, it is the fastest way... So in cost-effectiveness terms, it is very cost-effective for me. It would probably take me months on my own".



Lic. Alicia Mena Marmolejo
Universidad Tecnológica del Chocó
Quibdó, Chocó

Alicia received a fellowship from the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO). She said: " ...la gente que trabaja en el herbario debe tener un conocimiento general sobre como identificar plantas básicamente y este curso de dendrología tropical nos enseña eso, de una manera muy práctica y en corto tiempo... ". " ...creo que lo he aprovechado muy bien el curso, porque antes de venir acá no conocía este método tan fácil como es el que tiene el CCT".

Alicia: " ...People working in an herbarium should have a good knowledge on how to recognize plants; this course taught us this subject in a fairly practical manner and in a short time... ". " ...I think that I took good advantage of the course. I did not know this easy method to identify plants".



Mr. Hector Mai
Nº 5, Sapodilla Street
Belmopan, Belice
(501)-8-23 650
fax: (501)8-23 695

Hector works for the Forestry Department in the Ministry of Natural Resources, Belize. He declares: "....Dr. Keith Shawe, presently working in Belize, had already participated as a student in this course and he gave me encouragement for the course. I had a little previous training in botany. From an early age ... I knew the look and the common names but not scientific names or families".

At the begining, Hector had some troubles with terminology. But some days latter he declared: "I have grasped a lot of the terminology we are using in botany; so, now I'm not finding much trouble as before, when we just started. I have found the course very interesting, very informative and educative".