Faculty in the News In the News

July 15, 2013 at 10:48 am

Wisconsin State Journal Quotes Ballard on Tiny Violet Discovery

The July 14 Wisconsin State Journal story on “Tiny violet a big find for UW-Madison botany legend” featured Ohio University’s Dr. Harvey Ballard talking about his friend and mentor, Dr. Hugh Iltis, who collected the tiny violet specimen named to the top 10 new species list for last year (Top 10: A Tiny Violet, Stumbled Upon in the Andes). Ballard is a Professor of Environmental and Plant Biology in the College of Arts & Sciences.

The diminutive plant, which experts at the International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University picked to lead the top 10 list of new species identified in 2012, is not the first species that Iltis, 88, is credited with finding.

And it might not be the last. In his decades of collecting, the former director of the UW-Madison Herbarium amassed many other specimens that, like Viola lilliputana, are biding their time until they can be identified or determined to be a new plant never described before.

In the case of the miniature violet, that moment came when Harvey Ballard arrived at the university. Ballard, now an associate professor at Ohio University, came to UW-Madison in 1992 to begin his doctorate work on violets. But before he got around to the violet in question, Ballard had to finish his degree. Then he and Iltis spent years scouring existing resources to confirm the Peruvian specimen had not been previously identified.

“Nobody’s ever seen it since he found it,” Ballard said. “We know it from one site in the world.”

Read the entire article.

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