Charles Christopher Parry

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Parry circa 1875

Charles Christopher Parry (August 28, 1823 – February 20, 1890) was a British-American botanist and mountaineer.


Parry was born in Gloucestershire, England, but moved to the United States with his parents in 1832, settling first in Washington County, New York. He studied medicine at Columbia University, and botany under John Torrey, Asa Gray and George Engelmann.

He moved to Davenport, Iowa in 1846 where he practiced as a doctor for a short time before joining the United States and Mexican Boundary Survey (1848–1855) as surgeon and botanist. He made extensive plant collections along the U.S.-Mexico border in California, and later in Colorado, Utah and other western states, many of which proved to be new species.

Important plants he discovered include the Torrey pine and Engelmann spruce, which he named in honour of his mentors. Several plants are also named after him, including the Parry Pinyon, Parry's Lily and Parry's Penstemon. In addition, the genera Neoparrya and Parryella were named in his honor.[1][2]

Parry made the first barometric measurements of the heights of many of Colorado's mountains. Although he did not reach the summit, he estimated the height of Longs Peak, and he was the first to climb and measure Grays Peak. Parry Peak (4,082 m / 13,391 feet) in Colorado is also named after him.[3]

His archive is held at Iowa State University.


  1. ^ Mathias, Mildred E. 1929. Studies in the Umbelliferae II. Ann. Mo. Bot. Gard. 16:393-394, Plate 33.
  2. ^ Gray, Asa. 1868. Characters of New Plants of California and Elsewhere principally of those collected by H. N. Bolander in the State Geological Survey. Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 7: 397. 1868
  3. ^ W. H. Brewer, Explorations in the Rocky Mountains and the High Peaks of Colorado, Journal of the American Geographical Society of New York, Vol 3 (1872); pages 193-215.
  4. ^ IPNI.  Parry.

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