S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science




Culver, Mr W (plant collection)

Born: Date not known, Place not known.
Died: 1893, Barberton, South Africa.

W. Culver lived in Uitenhage during 1882-1884, where he made meteorological observations for the Cape of Good Hope Meteorological Commission. He also collected and studied orchids around Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage, and attempted unsuccessfully to cultivate Disa grandiflora. In 1886 he moved to Barberton, which had been established a mere two years earlier after the discovery of gold in the region. Here he and two other persons, late in 1888, determined the height of the town above sea level using aneroid barometers and a hypsometer. He was presumably the "Culver" (withouth initials) listed as a jeweller and watch maker in Barberton in 1890/1.

Culver joined the Barberton Scientific and Literary Society as a foundation member, and at its first regular meeting on 9 July 1888 was accorded a vote of thanks for the promised loan of a mircroscope. At the sixth ordinary meeting, on 26 November 1888, he read a paper on "Orchids", dealing with their taxonomic position, structure, characteristics, and propagation. At the society's annual general meeting on 12 June 1889 he was elected a member of its committee, but the society's meetings ended in December that year. He corresponded with H. Bolus* during this time and in a letter of 5 November 1889 mentioned some of the orchid specimens that he had collected in the region. He also kept a record of the local rainfall and his measurements for 1889 to 1892 were published in the De Kaap Annual for 1893.

Culver died late in 1893. His widow wrote to Bolus in February 1894, informing him that she had sent her late husband's orchid collection to F.R.R. Schlechter*, who was travelling in the Eastern Transvaal in December 1893 and who offered to send them on to Bolus. The orchid species Habenaria culveri was named in Culver's honour by Schlechter.


List of sources:
Barberton Scientific and Literary Society. Proceedings, 9 July 1888 to 28 October 1889. (Johannesburg Africana Library).

Cape of Good Hope. Report of the Meteorological Commission, 1882-1884.

De Kaap Annual, 1893, p. 33. Barberton: A.W. Bayly.

General Directory of South Africa, 1890/1, directory of Barberton.

Gold Fields News (Barberton), 1 November 1888: "Altitude of Barberton".

Gunn, M. & Codd, L.E. Botanical exploration of southern Africa. Cape Town: Balkema, 1981.

Plug, C. Early scientific and professional societies in the Transvaal: Barberton 1887-1889. South African Journal of Cultural History, 1990, Vol. 4(3), pp. 190-199.


Compiled by: C. Plug


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