Charles Noyes Forbes

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Charles Noyes Forbes
BornSeptember 24, 1883
DiedAugust 09, 1920
Honolulu, Hawaii
Alma materUniversity of California
Known forField work and plant collecting in Hawaii
Scientific career
InstitutionsBishop Museum
Author abbrev. (botany)C.N.Forbes

Charles Noyes Forbes (1883–1920) was an American botanist who primarily worked on Hawaii.


Forbes was born in Boylston, Massachusetts on 24 September 1883.[1] He was the oldest child of Edmund Cushing Forbes. His siblings were sister Carrie Hyde Forbes, born 1884, brother Edmund Cushing Forbes, Jr., born 1891, step-sister Ruth Persis Forbes, born 1900, and step-brother James Eli Forbes, born 1903 (two other step-brothers, Robert Long Forbes and Donald Long Forbes, died in infancy).

After finishing the elementary school Charles attended the Ray School in Southborough, Massachusetts from 1895 to 1897 and afterwards the high school at National City, California. In 1904, he joined the University of California where he graduated to Bachelor of Science in 1908.[1] While being an undergraduate he worked as a cadet for the emergency service during the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.[2] During his senior year, on December 30, 1907, in Cedar Cañon, San Diego County, California, Forbes discovered a new species of cypress tree. In 1922, Willis Linn Jepson, then a full Professor at the University and President of the California Botanical Society,[3] named the new species Cupressus forbesii, in memory of his former student, Forbes.[4] The species has recently been reclassified as Hesperocyparis forbesii.[5]

From 1908 to 1920 he was curator of Botany at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu.[1] During that time he made several expeditions to the bogs, cliffs, mountain ranges and valleys in the Hawaiian islands and collected many plant taxa which were new to science. In 1919 he was the first botanist who explored the flora of the Haleakalā bog in eastern Maui.[6] Among the plants which were scientifically described by Forbes are several which are either very rare or even extinct, including Portulaca molokiniensis, Cyanea parvifolia, Hibiscadelphus bombycinus and Clermontia tuberculata. The International Plant Names Index listed 52 taxa described by Forbes. Species such as Pipturus forbesii and Cheirodendron forbesii were named in his honour.

In 1913, Forbes married Helen Jean ("Nell") Stokes, whom he had met the previous year during an extended visit to Hawaii from her home in Australia to see her brother, John F. G. Stokes, the Museum's curator of Polynesian Ethnology. The couple had three children, Mary Noyes Forbes, born 1914, Helen Jean Forbes, born 1916, and Douglas Gray Forbes, born 1918. Charles Noyes Forbes died at age 36 on 9 August 1920 in Honolulu.



  1. ^ a b c Occasional papers of the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum of Polynesian Ethnology and Natural History. ISSN 0067-6160, 1984 (Reprint from Occasional papers of the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum of Polynesian Ethnology and Natural History Volume 8, p. 9, 1923)
  2. ^ "Giving to the University Library". UC Berkeley Library. Retrieved 2016-03-14.
  3. ^ The Jepson Herbarium, University of California, Berkeley, obituary of Willis Linn Jepson (1897-1946);
  4. ^ Annual Dinner For 1914, Madroño, Vol. 1, No.4 (October, 1922), p.75 (published by California Botanical Society)
  5. ^ The Jepson Manual Vascular Plants of California, Second Edition (University of California Press, 2012), pp. 135, 138.
  6. ^ Lloyd L. Loope, A. C. Medeiros, Betsy H. Gagné: Studies in montane bogs of Haleakala National Park. In: Technical report (Cooperative National Park Resources Studies Unit, Hawaii). Vol. 76–78, p. 5, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 1991
  7. ^ IPNI.  C.N.Forbes.