BRIT Press Celebrates 60th Anniversary of Publishing Botanical Discoveries and References

Publication is an essential step in the scientific process. Discoveries are considered unofficial until they have been reviewed by fellow scientists and published in journals. Through publication, scientists learn about new findings and debate new ideas.

Llloyd H. Shinners
Lloyd H. Shinners, founder of the Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas, at work on plant specimens.

This year, BRIT Press celebrates its 60th anniversary of fulfilling this critical role in botany. The hard work of the Press has established it as one of the leading publishers of botanical research, respected around the world.

The Press was first established in 1962 by Lloyd H. Shinners, a member of the Southern Methodist University (SMU) faculty, director of the Herbarium and a prolific botanical researcher. Shinners named the publication Sida, Contributions to Botany, taking the name from a genus of yellow-flowered plants of the mallow family distributed throughout the world and especially common in Texas.

Shinners continued as editor and publisher of Sida until his death in 1971. That year, William F. Mahler, professor of botany at SMU, became editor and publisher. In 1975, Barney Lipscomb was hired as Herbarium Botanist; he served as assistant editor from 1977 to 1982. Lipscomb took over as editor in 1982, a position he still holds today.

Sida became part of BRIT Press in 1987, changing its name to the Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas (JBRIT) in 2007. The journal is published twice a year and includes articles on systematics, anatomy, ecology, evolution, genetics, and paleobotany. New species of plants are regularly described in the journal. The next issue of JBRIT will be released this month. The 356-page issue includes 24 articles describing research discoveries from botanists as far away as India.

A selection of recent BRIT Press Books

The Press began publishing books in 1987 under the series title Sida, Botanical Miscellany. Titles are devoted to the comprehensive study of one topic and include floras (references that detail all of the plant life of a particular region), monographs, botanical histories and biographies.

This month, BRIT Press released the fifth printing of Range Plants of North Central Texas: A Land User’s Guide to Their Identification, Value and Management by Ricky Linex, a guide to the identification and management of plants found on range lands in our region.

Three more books will be released later this year:

Flora of Colorado, Second Edition. This a collaborative publication with Denver Botanic Gardens is a comprehensive guide to the vascular plants of Colorado and includes detailed plant descriptions, distribution maps, color photos, habitat information, flowering times and elevation ranges for all species.

Manual of Montana Vascular Plants, Second Edition. Vegetation in Montana is diverse, thanks to the large size of the state and its variety of ecosystems including high plains, mountains and forests. This guide to the vascular plants of Montana gives readers tools to identify the more than 2,500 species of plants found in the state.

My Father is the Gardener: Devotions in Botany and Gardening of the Bible. This collection of essays combines botanical and horticultural information with meditations on gardening, the Bible and life. The book opens up ancient knowledge and Scriptural treasures in an accessible, enjoyable way to novice and seasoned gardeners alike.

Congratulations to BRIT Press for sixty years of contributions to sharing botanical knowledge with the scientific community and the world.

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