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University of Wyoming

William Adams Dayton

W. A. Dayton

The brief chronology of the life of William A. Dayton was taken from an article by E. L. Little, Jr., published in Taxon (8: 185-187) in 1959.

1885 December 14, he was born the son of William Adams Dayton, a physician, and Emma Sampson Dayton. His maternal grandfather was president of Columbia College (George Washington University).

1905 He received a B.A. and a M.A. (1908) from Williams College.

1906 He worked for the U. S. Post Office Department in Washington, D.C., until 1910.

1910 He joined the Forest Service as a plant ecologist and with Arthur W. Sampson, pioneered in rangeland research on national forests. His early work was in Arizona, California, and Oregon.

1910 He founded the Forest Service Herbarium.

1942 He became chief of the new Division of Dendrology and Range Forage Investigations.

1943 He served as dendrologist with a forest survey party in Costa Rica.

1950 He was a delegate to the Seventh International Botanical Congress, Stockholm.

1955 He retired but remained active as a collaborator. The Department of Agriculture bestowed its highest honor on him, the Distinguished Service Award.

1958 October 20, the forest ecologist, dendrologist, and authority on range plants and English plant names died suddenly of a heart attack in Arlington, Virginia, age 72.


Publications: He authored more than 150 scientific articles, bulletins, notes, and reviews and the following books:

"Important Western Browse Plants" (1931), "Range Plant Handbook" (supervised, 1937), "Standardized Plant Names" (with H. P. Kelsey, ed. 2, 1942), "The Forests of Costa Rica" (with others, 1943), "United States Tree Books, a Bibliography of Tree Identification" (1952), "Check List of Native and Naturalized Trees of the United States" (supervised, E. L. Little, Jr., author, 1953), and "Notes on Western Range Forbs: Equisetaceae through Fumariaceae" (1960).


"A brilliant scholar with a remarkable memory for details, Bill Dayton, as his friends called him, was an encyclopedia of knowledge about plants. He had an excellent command of words and languages, particularly of classical Greek and Latin. This bibliophile assembled a valuable personal library on plant sciences which he so generously shared with others."