Flora of the Great Plateau

Jones’ last and largest manuscript, “The Flora of the Great Plateau,” reflects nearly a lifetime of work exploring the flora of an enormous region of the American West, which roughly encompasses the entire area from Canada to Mexico west of the Great Plains. This was undoubtedly a Herculean undertaking that speaks to Jones’ inflated self-confidence, and there were certainly gaps in his coverage of certain regions, particularly the northwest, central California, and Wyoming. However, Jones remained committed to this task up until his death; his wife, Anna, had opened a boarding house in Utah to generate income for his continued research, and the completion of the manuscript was the primary motivation for the sale of his herbarium to Pomona College. The manuscript remained unpublished upon his death in 1934.

The existing manuscript at RSABG is divided into two volumes of typed text, both of which are heavily annotated by hand. The first 690-page volume was completed around 1907, though the second volume was never fully completed. Jones included several hundred drawings and figures (likely by Clara Brooks) to accompany the text, which according to Jones represented all genera from the Great Plateau region. Jones uses a dichotomous key that had appeared before in his previous works; in the case of his Astragalus monograph, Rupert C. Barneby qualified it as “impenetrable.” However, Jones’ work still remains a significant accomplishment that deserves attention for its considerable scientific and historic value.

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