Use and Construction of the Index

This index to the Journal includes all page citations [The word "citation" is used in a non-standard, technical sense which is explained at point 11. Near the end] for scientific and common names used by Thoreau for vascular plants growing wild or as ornamentals. References to mosses, lichens, liverworts, mushrooms, and fungi have been excluded. Thoreau's study of these groups (except for lichens) was minimal. More importantly, the absence of collections by him in these groups prevents confirmation that he applied the names competently. Plants used for food, clothing, or medicinal purposes are generally included in the Index only if the context of the citation indicates occurrence of the plant in the wild. References to "corn," for example, are excluded. All references to wild fruits are included. Due to Thoreau's special interest in apples, all references to this fruit are also included.

The primary consideration in assigning a modern scientific name in this index to any of the plant names used by Thoreau is to provide an accurate translation of Thoreau's use of the name considering the context of his use. Consequently, the translations of names in this Index are not necessarily valid for sites in New England other than the sites where he used a given name. For example, Polygonatum biflorum in Thoreau's time included Polygonatum biflorum (modern) and Polygonatum pubescens. Since Polygonatum biflorum (modern) is known in New England only in Connecticut, Thoreau's name "Polygonatum biflorum" can be translated as "Polygonatum pubescens" in Concord (or in any other New England state except Connecticut, where it would be translated as "Polygonatum biflorum (modern) / Polygonatum pubescens"). Translation of a name Thoreau used does not always mean that he used that name correctly. However, reference to his herbarium indicates that, considering the state of New England botany at the time, his identifications are relatively accurate, particularly in the latter 1850s. To attempt to confirm the accuracy of every citation would be unduly speculative and time-consuming, and so it has not been attempted. However, in many instances when the herbarium or contextual evidence is clear, clarification or correction of Thoreau's identifications has been provided via notes.

Users of this index will, of course, approach it with varying interests. Most interests will be best served by understanding the clarity and efficiency of scientific names. For convenience, the scientific names in Gray's Manual of Botany (8th edition) by M. L. Fernald have been used throughout when assigning a modern equivalent to one of the names used by Thoreau. Although this edition is in much need of revision, having been published over three decades ago, it remains one of the standard references for the flora of the northeastern United States. Most popular field guides for plants in the Northeast make use of Gray's Manual for their scientific names.

Scientific plant names, which are customarily italicized, consist of two parts. The first is the genus name identifying a group of closely related species; for example, Quercus (OAKS) or Solidago (GOLDENRODS). A number of Thoreau's names designate nothing more specific than genus. To indicate this it is customary to add the abbreviation for "species" ("spp.") to the genus name; for example, Oak = Quercus spp. The second part of the scientific name identifies the particular species within the genus, as in Quercus rubra (RED OAK) or Quercus velutina (BLACK OAK). Within some species varieties are distinguished. In general this index does not identify varieties; however, many varieties of Thoreau's time are now considered full-fledged species, and in these instances the varietal name is provided to clarify the association with modern species names. For example,

The virtue of the scientific name is that, in principle, there is only one correct name for each species and only one species associated with a given scientific name. Common names, on the other hand, are often ambiguous, since a given species may have a multitude of common names, and a given common name may be associated with more than one species. In practice, because of changing opinions among botanists and discovery of old names that sometimes must take priority over more established names, most species have had more than one scientific name associated with them over a period of time. A list of such names for a given species is called the "synonymy" for the species. In spite of this variability, scientific names retain a precision lacking in common names since there is an "official" description and usually an "official" dried plant specimen in some herbarium associated with every scientific name.

Many of the scientific names used by Thoreau are still in use, others have been discarded, and still others are used in a more limited or, occasionally, entirely different sense than Thoreau's. Those names that are unchanged require no translation and in this index are simply supplemented with a modern common name, always indicated by capital letters, as in Cornus stolonifera (RED-OSIER DOGWOOD). Those scientific names used now in a more limited sense are supplemented with a modern common name, and usually an explanatory note at the end of the index lists other modern species that might be included within Thoreau's use of the name, as in Bidens frondosa (STICK-TIGHT)42. Those scientific names that have a different sense now than in Thoreau's time or that, in the modern limited sense, do not agree with the context of Thoreau's use must be translated, as in Acer saccharinum (old usage) = Acer saccharum (SUGAR MAPLE) and Nuphar advena208 = Nuphar variegatum (BULLHEAD LILY), respectively. Notes are indicated by small superscript numbers. Spelling of scientific names used by Thoreau that differs slightly from the modern spelling has been regularized to the modern spelling. The most frequent example is the modern, botanically correct "pensylvanicum" for Thoreau's "pennsylvanicum."

Common names used by Thoreau have been translated into the modern (Gray's Manual) scientific names on the basis of the context of his use (indicated by geographical locale, habitat, time of year, and other clues at citations). Modern common names are indicated in capital letters and have been selected from the most popular field guides and botanical manuals used in New England. An attempt has been made to select the most frequently used and appropriate common name for each species. Occasionally, two modern common names are provided with the modern scientific name when both names appear to be equally popular. Modern common names accompany every modern scientific name in the body of the index for the benefit of laypersons except where no common name exists. This provision occurs even when the modern common name is the same as that used by Thoreau, as in Sassafras = Sassafras albidum (SASSAFRAS). To aid laypersons in finding the appropriate modern scientific name for a modern common name, modern common names not used by Thoreau have been indexed and translated, as in NANNYBERRY = Viburnum lentago.

This index makes a distinction between use of a plant name as a noun, as an adjective, and as a present participle. References to the plant name used as a noun are given first. It should be noted that the plural use of a name is treated as equivalent to the singular and is not indexed separately. Use of the plant name as an adjective is indicated by a blank space (where the plant name would occur) preceding the object, enclosed in parentheses, that the name modifies. These citations are provided following those for use of the plant name as a noun and are in alphabetical order of the noun being modified; for example, "__ (bough) -- X 65; __ (bud) -- XIII 38; __ (bur) -- IX 107," all citations under "Chestnut." Lastly, citations for use of the plant name as a present participle are given and are indicated as shown for "Chestnut": "__ (-ing) -- IX 130; __(a-) __ (-ing) -- IV 462, VII 520."

Cross-indexing is provided to permit systematic location of all citations for a given species, though to take advantage of it the user must first determine the modern scientific name (Gray's Manual) of the species in question. Most popular field guides for the northeastern United States give this scientific name for their entries. This index can in most instances also be used to find the modern scientific name, whether the user starts with one of Thoreau's names (common or scientific) or with a modern common name. Once the modern scientific name has been determined, the user can locate all citations to the species in question by referring to the entry for this name in the index. Here, citations for Thoreau's use of this modern scientific name, if any, are provided, as well as all other names used by Thoreau that yield all additional citations in the Journal for the species in question. For example,

indicates that all citations for this species using the name "Castilleja coccinea" occur on V 127 and that all additional citations to the species are listed under the names "Castilleja" and "Painted Cup." In this example Thoreau's use of the generic name "castilleja" always refers to Castilleja coccinea (PAINTED CUP). In other instances Thoreau's use of a generic name does not refer consistently to one species but might on occasion implicitly apply to a particular species. These citations are usually not cross-indexed at the particular species. Theuser, therefore, should check citations at the genus name as well as at the modern species name when searching for all citations for a species.

Alternate names Thoreau used for a species will be listed only at the modern scientific name, which is in effect the rallying point for the species. Not all alternate names are listed at the modern scientific name, but only those sufficient to yield all additional citations to the species. However, by checking all citations, any additional alternate names will be found. For example, at "Lycopodium obscurum (TREE CLUBMOSS)" one finds listed the alternate names "Evergreen" and "Lycopodium dendroideum." One does not find listed the alternate name "ground-pine" that Thoreau uses only on IV 195 since this page citation is already included among those for "Lycopodium dendroideum."

This index was compiled by reading the 1906 edition of Thoreau's Journal and recording each plant reference sequentially on sheets of paper. At the conclusion of this stage the citations were entered onto index cards kept in alphabetical order. Once all references had been transferred to the cards, translation of the citations and insertion of cross-references was undertaken in alphabetical order. Finally, the data from Thoreau's herbarium were transcribed and used to provide clarifications and corrections to Thoreau's Journal identifications before the manuscript was typed from the cards. The plant references in the so-called "Lost Journal" have been incorporated by indexing the first volume of the Princeton Edition of the Journal. Citations to the Princeton Edition in this index are indicated by the use of the lower case Roman numeral "i."

Finally, the following conventions and policies have been adopted in this index: