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Dr. John Nelson - Curator of the A.C. Moore Herbarium at the University of South Carolina
My Personal Hobbies: Kayaking (no white-water, thanks), tinkering around with the German language, South Carolina history. I really like to collect plants for the Herbarium and usually end up doing this even during vacation or travel time.
I’m really not much of a gardener. I think I’m a better “garden appreciator,” and I love to be thrilled by walking into someone’s carefully tended backyard, or a botanical garden or greenhouse. I have grown a few things, though. My greatest accomplishment in gardening, I think, was growing gourds. I still have some great big bushel gourds that I grew several years ago. Hot peppers are pretty fun (and easy) to grow, too.
My First Memories of Gardening: One of my very first memories involving plants was when I was a little kid, probably four. I remember crawling around outside, and marveling at the beautiful little hairy purple things on the ground. Of course, I was looking at the flowers of henbit, Lamium amplexicaule. I still think that this species, despite its weediness, has one of the most exquisite flowers of all. Small, but exquisite. (Maybe I was already a botanist!)
I didn’t get really fired up about botany and plant life until I was a senior undergraduate, a biology major, at USC. Up to that point, a lot of the biology courses were pretty boring for me. But I managed to squeeze into Dr. Wade Batson’s “Fall Flora” class, and it was a real life-changer. I then knew that whatever I did later on, career-wise, was going to involve plant taxonomy. Fortunately, I was able to keep this spirit going when I started grad school at Clemson, working under Dr. John Fairey.