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During the very flattering attendance which, for the last, and the present season, has been bestowed on the botanical lectures in this place, and the prevailing taste which has been manifested for the study of plants; it was impossible not to feel the great inconvenience arising from the deficiency of botanical books. The common standard works of the science, those containing the genera and species of plants, are hardly so much as heard of by name in our bookstores. These works, even when obtained, being principally in Latin, are useless to a great class of amateurs of the science, who are not conversant in the learned languages. To this it may be added, that a great number of American plants have never been fully described, that all that is known concerning them is contained in the few words of a specific character, which to the student, or inexperienced botanist, can hardly afford a necessary degree of satisfaction and certainty.

I have been influenced by these circumstances in determining to offer to the friends of botany in this section of the country, the present collection of plants, which has been undertaken with the hope

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that it may be found to answer some useful purpose as a book of practical reference, until some more extensive work may appear among us.

The plants described in this book have been collected during the two last seasons in the vicinity of Boston, within a circuit of from five to ten miles. These limits have only been exceeded in the case of a few remarkable plants, as Magnolia, Podophyl. lum, &c. whose places of growth and distance from Boston are distinctly noticed. It is presumed however that the vegetables of this part of the coun. try will serve as a tolerable specimen of the botany of the whole New England states, and particularly of the maritime parts.

No plants have been inserted, which were not found growing spontaneously, or in their wild state. Of these a majority are originally native, the rest have emigrated to us from other countries. Plants which are found growing only in a state of cultiva. tion, are omitted ; and among others the numerous cultivated trees and shrubs.

In describing the plants, the genera have been placed at the head of each class, and the species afterward in the same order, with corresponding numbers. On account of the smallness of their number, it has not been thought necessary to repeat the generic characters singly, especially as many of them are given more at large than mere essential characters. In the species I have carefully avoided all changes of names or unnecessary innovations

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of any sort. The specific characters have been taken from authors with as much fidelity as was consistent with translation, except where these characters were found to be obviously imperfect. In a few instances characters of superfluous length have been abridged, (abr.) and sometimes the terms have been changed for more convenient ones of the same import. (m. t.) Occasionally also the character has been taken from a synonym, and marked accordingly. (sub syn.)

In some instances it appears probable, and even evident, that different plants have been intended by different authors under the same name. In these cases I have preferred, for the present, not to change the name, but to give it on the authority of that author who has described the plant intended in this work.

The principal synonyms of recent botanists have been given. To each specific character has been added a more full description of the plant taken from actual specimens, together with the place of growth, time of flowering and duration, and occasional remarks on the properties and uses of particular species, collected from authors, or derived from personal observation.

The present work does not profess to contain a complete collection of the plants of this section of the country. Such an undertaking, neither my present leisure and opportunities, nor the time allotted for this publication, would permit. I may

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perhaps entertain a hope of being able at a future period to atone in some measure for this deficiency. At present I shall be satisfied if the work, now offered to the public, should prove an auxiliary to the study of an interesting science, and be satisfactory to those friends who have obligingly aided me with facilities during its composition. I flatter myself that among its faults, the most numerous will not be its errors; and whatever may be its fate with the public, I shall retain the consciousness, that it has not been the result of superficial inquiry, or negligent observation.

Boston, May, 1814.

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