Amateur botanist Lawrence William Nuttall (September 17, 1857-October 16, 1933) collected plant specimens, including fungi, during the late 1800s and early 1900s. He was born near Philipsburg, Pennsylvania. In 1878, after attending the Perryville (Pennsylvania) Academy, he moved to Nuttallburg in the New River Gorge in Fayette County to join his father, the pioneer coal operator John Nuttall. When he wasn’t working he studied plants, and in just seven years collected about 1,000 species of flowering plants, many of which were named after him, and hundreds of fungi. At least 108 of the fungi species were new to science.
Many of Nuttall’s specimens were sent to various authorities for identification, one of whom was botanist C. F. Millspaugh of West Virginia University. After collaborating for several years, they jointly published Flora of West Virginia in 1896, not to be confused with the later book by the same name. In succeeding years, Nuttall continued collecting in West Virginia and other areas of the nation, contributing to publications including Flora of the Southeastern States, North American Uredinales, and Flora of Santa Catalina Island.
In 1927, just before moving to San Diego, Nuttall donated his plant collection to the WVU Herbarium. This collection included thousands of seed plants and fern specimens, but was particularly valuable for the more than 1,400 species of fungi, most of which were first described from Fayette County.
Nuttall died in San Diego. In 1953, a trail in the WVU Arboretum was named in his honor.
This Article was written by Kathleen Carothers Leo
Last Revised on October 21, 2010
Boone, Weldon. History of Botany in West Virginia. Parsons: McClain, 1974.
Core, Earl. Lawrence William Nuttall. Castanea, (Dec. 1952).