Bob Powell Published

March 21, 1886: Botanist P.D. Strausbaugh Born

P.D. Strausbaugh

Botanist P. D. Strausbaugh was born on March 21, 1886. After becoming head of West Virginia University’s department of botany in 1923, his first challenge was to reestablish the school’s herbarium, which he considered essential to the study of botany.

WVU’s plant collection had been put into storage in 1892. Strausbaugh and his colleagues spent the summer of 1924 collecting, mounting, and filing the nucleus of a new collection.

In 1926, Strausbaugh initiated a summer field course called “botanical expeditions,” which were perhaps the first of their kind. These summer-long excursions, renamed biological expeditions two years later when zoological studies were added, took students all around West Virginia on extended camping and collecting trips. Students studied plant and animal life and collected specimens for the university’s herbarium and zoological collections. Even though Strausbaugh retired from WVU in 1948, he continued his expeditions for another four years.

P. D. Strausbaugh died in 1965 at age 79. His most lasting legacy is the book Flora of West Virginia, co-authored with his former student Earl Core and published in four parts between 1952 and 1964.