A visit to the hallowed offices of the BSI and Kolkata's Central National Herbarium allowed for a rare glimpse into the life and prodigious work of Dr William Roxburgh (17511815), a Scottish medical doctor famed as the father of Indian botany.
The largest share of his herbarium specimens is held at the Delessert Herbarium in Geneva.
Smith spent some 60 years studying the Bromeliaceae as a member of the staffs of the Gray Herbarium at Harvard and later at the Department of Botany at the Smithsonian Institution, and in many field trips to Brazil, Columbia, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Argentina and Cuba.
Live material for most plants was not available, and reliance had to be given to the dried herbarium specimens in various herbaria around the world.
Other herbariums would show just one example of each plant.
The findings were made after Prof John Parker, a botanist at the University of Cambridge and Gina Murrell, also from Cambridge, noticed oddities in the university's renowned herbarium - a paper record of plant species.
Small ones are made to slip into a pack or under the seat of a car for field collecting, while most larger ones, 12 inches wide and 18 inches long, are sized to accommodate standard 11 1/2- by 16 1/2-inch herbarium