James Everard Benedict, Jr.

(4 February 1885 — 3 September 1969)

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Herbarium (NCU) has cataloged approximately 50 vascular plant specimens collected by James Everard Benedict, Jr. With only about 10% of the collection catalogued, no doubt more specimens collected by him will be found. He usually used “J. E. Benedict” on his labels.

Benedict collected specimens throughout the southeastern United States. The earliest specimen that we have found to date is Rudbeckia umbrosa collected in 1923 from Montgomery County, Maryland, while the latest we have found is Lygodium palmatum collected in 1960 in Charles County, Maryland.

Many of NCU’s specimens collected by Benedict were sent as gifts from the Herbarium at Virginia Polytechnic Institute.  For more information on Benedict’s specimens at VPI, see Mitchell, Richard S. and Leonard J. Uttal (1970)  The Benedict plant and seed collections now at Virginia Polytechnic Institute.  Castanea 35(2):  150-152.

In June, 2010 Salli Benedict (granddaughter of James Benedict), Gwendolyn Cummings and Jason Cummings, visited the University of North Carolina Herbarium, and curators showed them some of Benedict’s fern specimens.  Another granddaughter, Betsy Benedict, visited the Massey Herbarium at Virginia Polytechnic Institute:

August 9, 2010    :  Found our way to the biology building and met the friendly and informative curator of the herbarium, Tom Wieboldt.  He was so welcoming and open… he was generous with his time and showed us so many things.  He showed us where the ferns are, most mounted as they were originally.  He showed us the field note journals that were donated and said they were still being used, also that the ferns are still being used for research.  Showed us some ferns that have never been mounted that are still layered in the original newspapers… and the seed collection that I didn’t even know he had, and some huge pine cones – as big as pineapples – that he shows to students to pique their interest in biology.  This was more than I could ever have hoped for and well worth the effort to make the connection.  I learned more about Granddaddy than I had known and it was great to have [my sons] Ben and Christopher make this connection.


Benedict, James (1953)  Autobiography of and by JAMES E. BENEDICT  graduating from Biltmore Forest School (pp. 198-201) in 1907 IN The Biltmore Immortals.  L.C. Wittich, Darmstadt, Germany.

Born:  Washington, D.C., February 4, 1885
1887 to 1889 lived in St. Paul, Minnesota, where my father was in the real estate business.
1889:  Returned to Washington where my father entered the services of the United States National Museum as assistant curator of Marine Invertebrates.
Primary education in elementary and high schools of Washington and nearby Maryland.  Graduated from Central High School in June 1906.
Entered Biltmore Forest School in October 1906.  Graduated in September 1907.
September 1907 secured temporary position in the Seed Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  Position made permanent under Civil Service in 1908.
October 1910:  Established and operated for a year the Virginia State Seed Laboratory in Richmond.
October 1911:  Established and operated the first complete commercial seed testing laboratory for the Seed Trade Reporting Bureau in Chicago.
December 28, 1911:  Married Frances Burket in Washington and returned to Chicago.
July 1912:  Bought the seed testing business from the Seed Trade Reporting Bureau and moved it to Washington where I have been operating it ever since under the name of Commercial Seed Laboratory.
1919:  Opened branch laboratory in Toledo, Ohio.
On the side have given several lecture courses on Bryophytes and general field botany at George Washington University and Catholic University.  Am a member of the Biological Society of Washington, the Washington Biologists’ Field Club and the American Fern Society.
Hobbies:  My main hobby is collecting plants, mostly ferns and grasses of which I have an herbarium of about 3000 mounted sheets.  Have covered much of the United States on automobile field trips with various botanists, chiefly Dr. Edgar T. Wherry of the University of Pennsylvania and have obtained many plants by exchanging with collectors in foreign countries.  Also collect seeds and have a seed herbarium of several thousand specimens.  Among minor hobbies, now dropped, was archery and for several years was a member of the Potomac Archers.
Paternal grand-parents:  James Benedict and Thirsa Dibble Benedict, both of old established Connecticut families of English ancestry.
Maternal grand-parents:  Charles Junken from Hannover, Germany and Eliza Morrison Junken of Scotch-Irish parentage.
Father:  James Everard Benedict, Phd.  Born in South Norwalk, Connecticut, January 5, 1854.  Graduated from Union College in 1880.  Was resident naturalist on board the U.S. Fish Commission steamers “Fish Hawk” and “Albatross” for several years after graduation.  Married Elizabeth Morrison Junken in November 1883.  After two-year try at the real estate business in St. Paul, Minn., he returned to scientific activities in Washington.  His work at the National Museum consisted mainly of systematic studies of marine crustaceans and annelids.  At his retirement, in 1930, he held the position of Chief of Biological Exhibits.  As a sideline, he manufactured deepsea sounding devices, many thousand of which were used by the U.S. Navy during World War I.  He retired from government service in 1930 and died January 7, 1940.
Mother:  Elizabeth Morrison Benedict, born in Washington, D.C., August 4, 1861.  Died February 1, 1940.
Brother:  Charles Junken Benedict, born September 24, 1887.
Sisters:  Elizabeth Jenny Benedict, born November 25, 1889.  Ruth Benedict, born June 24, 1892.
Wife:  Frances Burket Benedict.  Born March 2, 1887 in Washington, D.C.  Graduated from Central High School, Washington, in 1908.  Employed in Seed Laboratory, U.S. Department of Agriculture until our marriage in 1911.  A trained seed analyst, she has been a real help in running the laboratory whenever time and circumstances permitted.
Daughter:  Frances Benedict, born May 15, 1913, graduated from University of Maryland in 1936.  Hel positions in three separate government agencies engaged in scientific work; Bureau of Home Economics, Bureau of Standards and National Archives.  Died July 15, 1950.
Son:  James Everard Benedict III, born March 1st, 1915, graduated from University of Alabama engineer school in 1940.  Being in the R.O.T.C., he was called in the Army in 1941 before Pearl Harbor.  As an engineer attached to the Air Force he spent twenty-seven months in the Pacific theatre during World War II.  His speciality [sic] was building landing strips.  In 1945 married Josephine Mosley Smith.  They have two children, Sarah Frances Benedict, aged five, and James Everard Benedict IV, aged two.  Is now in the Air Force with rank of lieutenant-colonel stationed at Langley Field, Virginia.
Son:  Joseph Burket Benedict, born April 25, 1922.  After several years of pre-flight and flying training in various camps, he received commission as a pilot in the Air Force and was expecting over-seas assignment when the war ended in 1945.  Entered Virginia Polytechnic Institute and graduated in 1949.  Married Rebecca Mosley in 1947.  Two children, Anne Farrior Benedict and Judith Benedict, three and two years old respectively.  Joseph is branch manager of the Universal C.I.T. Credit corporation in their Wilmington, Del. [Delaware], office.


Obituary, Washington Post 1970 [A more complete citation will be provided when it is found.]
Ran Seed Testing Laboratory: James E. Benedict Jr. Dead at 84
James E. Benedict Jr., 84, who operated a seed testing laboratory in the Washington area for 56 years, died Wednesday after surgery at Washington Sanitarium and Hospital in Silver Spring.
Mr. Benedict graduated from the Biltmore Forestry School in North Carolina and, in 1913, opened his laboratory at 945 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.  The firm, which analyzed seed quality for commercial houses, did business there for 50 years, until the site was acquired by the federal government in 1963 for the new FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation] building now under construction.  Mr. Benedict then moved the laboratory to 901 Pershing Dr., Silver Spring, where he continued to do business as Commercial Seed Laboratories until his death.  Born in Washington, he attended Central High School here. He taught a course in botany at George Washington University in the 1930’s and 40’s and until recently conducted an annual student nature hike through Rock Creek Park.  He was a past president of the Washington Biologists Field Club and was a member of the Washington Botanical Society. He had lived at 9403 Warren St., Silver Spring for more than 50 years.  Survivors include two sons, James E. III of Hollywood, Fla. [Florida], and Joseph B., of Greenville, Del. [Delaware]; two sisters, Elizabeth J. Benedict and Ruth Benedict, both of Silver Spring [Maryland], and five grandchildren.

James E. Benedict, Jr. died 3 September 1969 at age 84; he is buried in a family plot in Colesville Cemetery in Silver Spring, Montgomery County, Maryland. (1, 2)

PUBLICATIONS (incomplete list):

1. Benedict, J. E., Jr. (1924) An occurrence of the Southern Maiden-hair in Maryland. American Fern Journal 14(1): 21-22.
On the stone wall built around a spring on the Noyes Estate in the new subdivision of Woodside Park, Montgomery County, Maryland, the writer discovered in the fall of 1922 a thriving plant of the southern Maiden-hair, Adiantum Capillus-Veneris L. The fronds shriveled up during the winter but new ones came out the following spring, and when they appeared to have attained their maximum development, in July, were photographed and a few fronds collected. Shortly thereafter the plant disappeared, having evidently been pulled up by some chance visitor; although the clearing of the land for building purposes would soon have obliterated the locality in any case.
Tests of the reaction material (a mixture of fragments of cement and decomposed moss) in which the roots of the fern were imbedded, made by Dr. Edgar T. Wherry, showed a specific alkalinity of 10. The spring water itself was neutral and the alkalinity evidently came from the decomposing cement.
How the plant got there in the first place can not be definitely determined, although there is a greenhouse less than half a mile away and the spores may well have come from there, on of the reaching by chance this favorable location on the spring wall. The noteworthy fact in the case is that this southern species was able to establish and maintain itself over one winter at least, so far north; the spring is located approximately ten miles north of Washington. – J. E. Benedict, Jr., Washington, D.C.

2. Benedict, J. E., Jr. (1932) Dryopteris floridana (Hook.) Kuntze in North Carolina. American Fern Journal 22(2): 56.
Early in April, 1931, the writer was one of a party, composed mostly of George Washington University botany students under the leadership of Dr. Robert F. Griggs, which visited the Coastal Plain section in eastern North Carolina. April 6th and 7th found us camped on the north shore of beautiful Lake Waccamaw in Columbus County. The lake at this point is separated only by a narrow ridge of sand, a few yards in width, from a cypress swamp. Along the north edge of this swamp is an area, wet and muddy but not perpetually inundated, lying between the water and the high, cultivated ground. Here the writer found a colony of several dozen plants of Dryopteris floridana (Hook.) Kuntze (J. E. Benedict, Jr., no. 1247). In addition to being the first record of this fern in the state of North Carolina it is a northward extension of its range of approximately 120 miles, the former most northerly station being in the vicinity of Charleston, S. C. The Waccamaw plants are noteworthy also in being of unusually large size, one fruiting frond in the collection of the writer being 118 centimeters long. Specimens have been deposited in the U.S. National Herbarium in Washington and in the herbarium of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. – J. E. Benedict, Jr., Washington, D.C.

3.  Wherry, Edgar T. and J. E. Benedict, Jr. (1939)  Plant finds in June 1939.  Castanea 4(8):  137-138.

4. Benedict, J.E., Jr. (1947) A new form of Asplenium platyneuronAmerican Fern Journal 37(1): 11-12.
Last October I spent a week-end in St. Mary’s County, Maryland, along the lower Potomac River. While walking along a woodland road I noticed a fringe of Ebony Spleenwort growing on the low bank at the edge of the road. Among the plants was a fern that I took at first glance to be another species. A closer inspection, however, showed it to be an unusually luxuriant plant of Ebony Spleenwort, with fronds more dissected than is characteristic of any of the named form or varieties.
The plant was growing in the Gum-Pine association common to this section, in which the dominant species are Sweet Gum (Liquidambar styraciflua) and Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda). Associated plants were Ilex opacaMyrica cerifera, and Quercus rubra (Spanish Oak), with an undergrowth of VacciniumGaylussacia, and other plants. The soil, locally called “white oak soil” because of its extreme hardness, is known as Leonardtown loam, a form in which clay predominates.
Asplenium platyneuron f. dissectum Benedict, f. nov.
A f. typica pinnis usque ad 4 cm. longissubpinnatissegmentis 7-11-jugis, anguste oblongo-spathulatis, sub-pinnatifidis, ala costali perangusta vel subnulla recedit.
Type in the U.S. National Herbarium, No. 1,896,275, collected in woods along “Back Road” at Lanedon (Valley Lee P.O.), St. Mary’s County, Maryland, October 21, 1945, by J. E. Benedict (No. 5230).
This form is nearest to f. Hortonae (Davenp.) L. B. Smith, of which an isotype is in the National Herbarium, but in that form the pinnae are only pinnatifid (the costal wing being relatively broad) and the segments are subentire. In f. dissectum the plants are almost bipinnate-pinnatifid, the primary pinnae being pinnatisect nearly or quite to the costa and the ultimate segments deeply pinnatifid.
[Volume 37, Plate 1 on page 12 is a photograph of the plant.]

5. Benedict, J. E., Jr. (1950) A new form of LorinseriaAmerican Fern Journal 40(2): 174-175.
Although the fronds of Lorinseria areolata and Onoclea sensibilis are similar in general aspect, they can usually be told apart at a distance by the undulate to deeply lobed margins of the primary lobes of the Onoclea. Not so, however, in a large colony found by the writer while on a visit to his on in Hampton, Virginia, last May. The fronds in this colony had the lobing of Onoclea, but showed by their alternate pinnae, finely serrate margins and chain-like venation along the principal veins that they were really Lorinseria. The aspect and character noted are brought out in the accompanying figure, kindly drawn by Mr. Joseph A. Devlin. No fertile fronds were seen. The following formal name was suggested by Dr. E. T. Wherry.

Lorinseria areolata (L.) Presl forma onocleoides J. E, Benedict, f. nov.
A f. typica pinnis profunde pinnatifidislobis obtusisusque ad 8 mm. longis et 6 mm. latis differt.
Differs from the typical form in having the pinnae all deeply lobed, the lobes obtuse, up to 8 mm. long and 6 mm. broad.
Type in the U.S. National Herbarium, no. 1918314, collected one mile due west of the village of Aberdeen Gardens, Elizabeth City County, Virginia, in a loblolly-pine (Pinus taeda) woods, May 30, 1949, by J. E. Benedict, Jr. (no. 5540). The station is 4 miles due north of Newport News, which, however, is in another county.

1.  Find A Grave, Memorial 7991625 https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/7991625/james-everard-benedict  accessed on 4 October 2020.
2.  The Washington Biologists’ Field Club:  Its members and its history (1900-2006).  Matthew C. Perry, Ed.  The Washington Biologists’ Field Club, Washington, D. C.  2007.  (page 80)


Special thanks to Peter Fraissinet, Asst. Curator, BH,  for supplying information on Benedicts death date and burial place.