Mary Gibson Henry

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Mary Gibson Henry (1884-1967) was an American botanist and plant collector from Philadelphia, who also served as president of the American Horticultural Society. The Hymenocallis henryae is named in her honor.

Mrs. Henry had a lifelong interest in botany, and after her children had grown up, she set out collecting in her chauffeured car to remote areas of the American coastal plain, piedmont, and Appalachian Mountains, and in later ventures to the Ozarks and then the Rocky Mountains from New Mexico to British Columbia. As she recalled in her memoirs:

"I soon learned that rare and beautiful plants can only be found in places that are difficult of access.... Often one has to shove one's self through or wriggle under briars, with awkward results to clothing and many and deep cuts and scratches.... Wading, usually barelegged, through countless rattlesnake-infested swamps adds immensely to the interest of the day's work."

At one point she and her daughter were held up by three armed men. As she later observed: "It all took place so quickly we felt as though we were at the movies. I had often wondered how it would feel to be held up and really it was not so bad at all."

Her 50-acre (200,000 m2) private botanical garden has now become the nonprofit Henry Foundation for Botanical Research, and is open to the public.


  • Henry, M. G., "Mary Gibson Henry: an autobiography", Herbertia 6: 8-28. 1956.
  • Harrison, Mary. "Mary Gibson Henry, Plantwoman Extraordinaire", Arnoldia 60, no. 1: 2-12. 2000.

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