Oakes Angier Ames

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Oakes Angier Ames

Birthplace: Easton, Bristol, MA, USA
Death: Died
Immediate Family:

Son of Oakes Angier Ames and Eveline Orville Ames
Husband of Catherine Ames
Father of Marie Hobart Harte; Hobart Ames; Winthrop Ames; Oakes Ames; Oakes Angier Ames and 1 other
Brother of Oliver Ames, Governor; Frank Morton Ames; Susan Eveline French and Henry Gilmore Ames

Managed by: Nicholas Harte Matlin
Last Updated:

About Oakes Angier Ames


Oakes Ames (/eɪms/; September 26, 1874 – April 28, 1950) was an American botanist specializing in orchids. His estate is now the Borderland State Park in Massachusetts.

Ames was born into a wealthy family from North Easton, Massachusetts as the youngest son of Governor Oliver Ames. At age fifteen, he collected his first orchids in Easton. He was educated at Harvard University, receiving his A.B. in 1898 and his A.M. in 1899. He married Blanche Ames (no relation) in 1900, resulting in her married name of Blanche Ames Ames.

Ames spent his entire professional career at Harvard. As administrator, he was Assistant Director (1899–1909) and Director of the Botanic Garden (1909–1922); Curator (1923–1927), Supervisor (1927–1937), Director (1937–1945), and Associate Director of the Botanic Museum (1945–1950); Chairman of the Division of Biology (1926–1935) and Chairman of the Council of Botanical Collections and Supervisor of the Biological Laboratory, the Atkins Garden in Cuba, and the Arnold Arboretum (1927–1935). As teacher, he was an instructor in botany (1900–1910), associate professor of botany (1915–1926), professor of botany (1926–1932) and Arnold professor of botany (1932–1935). From 1935 to 1941 he was a research professor of botany. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1911.

The Orchidaceae were little-known before Ames' study and classification. He made expeditions to Florida, the Caribbean, the Philippines, and Central and South America, with his wife creating scientifically accurate drawings of the plants they cataloged. The Ames' work was published in the seven-volume Orchidicae: Illustrations and Studies of the Family Orchidicae. They also developed the Ames Charts, illustrating the phylogenetic relationships of the major useful plants, which are still used.

Ames built up an extensive orchid herbarium, with library, photographs, and paintings, which he gave to Harvard in 1938. Today the Orchid Herbarium of Oakes Ames contains about 131,000 specimens, plus 3,000 flowers in glycerine, 4,000 pickled specimens, and hundreds of line drawings. Its library includes about 5,000 books, reprints, and journals.

The standard author abbreviation Ames is used to indicate this individual as the author when citing a botanical name.

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Oakes Angier Ames's Timeline

April 15, 1829
Easton, Bristol, MA, USA
October 13, 1856
Age 27
Easton, Bristol County, Massachusetts, United States
May 8, 1858
Age 29
January 21, 1861
Age 31
August 21, 1865
Age 36
Easton, Bristol County, Massachusetts, United States
November 25, 1870
Age 41
Easton, Bristol County, Massachusetts, United States
January 11, 1874
Age 44
Easton, Bristol County, Massachusetts, United States
Age 69