Miles Joseph Berkeley     (1803 - 1889)

Image of Miles Joseph Berkeley from Curtis Gates Lloyd (1898 - 1925) Mycological Notes
Miles Joseph Berkeley

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Further Sources
Selected publications


1825     graduates from Christ's College, Cambridge University, with a bachelor's degree in Theology; is curate in Apethorpe

1833     curate in Wood Newton

1868     vicar in Sibbertoft
I have also seen the date of his death given as 1887

Berkeley was mainly a namer. As you can see from the list of his species below, he ended up naming quite a few members of our "basic" fungal flora, at a comparatively late date. His one sort of basic scientific contribution is the discovery the basidium at about the same time as Léveillé. I haven't read "Berkeley's article", so I don't know if he realized how important it was; but Léveillé generally gets "the credit" for the discovery (in as much as we even do things like that in mycology), as he realized its significance and did a good job of incorporating it into the existing taxonomic system. But Berkeley's independent discovery remains an important confirmation of Léveillé's work.

The start of Berkeley's career is a tremendous puzzle to me. His first mycological job ever was writing the section on fungi for English Flora (a work that Isley attributes to J. E. Smith and my other sources attributes to Sir William Jackson Hooker; I think that Hooker took the later editions over from Smith) in 1836. This was the major, standard work on English plants at the time. I have no idea why an unknown person with no previous professional experience was selected for the task. Maybe Berkeley and Hooker knew each other through Cambridge, or through the younger Hooker.

Photo of Tremella fuciformis by Susan B. Lee
Tremella fuciformisIn any case, this job gave him a reputation; people started sending him fungi; he started publishing names for them (mostly in his Notices and "Decades"); and the rest is history. His first job established his position in the British botanical community; he published more names and became more famous; people sent him more fungi... it sort of snowballed. Hooker in particular sent him the fungi that came to Kew from the various biological expeditions of the time.

Photo of Laccaria ochropurpurea by John Denk
Laccaria ochropurpurea Isley gives him credit for the discovery of the basidium and almost all the important work on Phytophthora infestans (its life history, its responsibility for the Irish potato blight). This is almost certainly incorrect (Berkeley was a namer, not a scientist), and probably derives from the turn-of-the-century British sources that he uses. I'll have to check that out. But I suspect that Isley is unwittingly quoting the sort of scientific jingoism that also inflated the career of Worthington George Smith. Berkeley did publish his independent discovery of the basidium (a year after Léveillé), and his work is an important confirmation of Léveillé's work. But Berkeley didn't go into the kind of depth that Léveillé did, nor did he build upon the discovery scientifically, the way Léveillé did. Likewise, Berkeley is the person who alerted Britain that (a) the stuff growing on the blighted potatoes was Phytophthora infestans, and (b) it might actually be causing the plague - - the conventional belief at the time was that fungi were agents of decay only, and the Phytophthora's appearance on the diseased plants was taken to mean that they were close enough to death (from the "true" infectious agent) that a fungus was able to grow on them. I do want to give Berkeley full credit for getting the word out: after all, the British might never have believed a foreigner no matter how much scientific proof he had. But all the important scientific work on it was done by de Bary. For instance, in Constantine John Alexopoulos, C. W. Mims & Meredith Blackwell's (1996) Introductory Mycology:

"Although other individuals, including the Belgian Charles Morren and an English clergyman, the Reverend Miles Berkeley, previously had suggested that this fungus was the cause of the potato murrain, it was actually de Bary's work that confirmed the fact. In two papers published in 1861 and 1863, de Bary described the life cycle of the fungus and proved its role in the blight." (p. 718)

see also the entry for Worthington George Smith for more background on the blight and Britain's mycological competence.
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Heinrich Dörfelt & Heike Heklau (1998) Die Geschichte der Mykologie
      (Die Geschichte der Mykologie)

Duane Isley (1994) One Hundred and One Botanists

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Further Sources

AnonPhytopathology Classics: #8 (Berkeley article series )

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Selected Publications

Miles Joseph Berkeley (1836) The English Flora: volume 5, part 2
In this huge, multi-volume work edited by Sir William Jackson Hooker, Berkeley wrote the section on the fungi.

Miles Joseph Berkeley (1837 - 1885) Notices of British fungi
A long-running series of articles, in which he published many of his new names

Miles Joseph Berkeley (1838) "On the fructification of the pileate and clavate tribes of hymenomycetous fungi" in Annals of natural history 1:2 pp. 81 - 101
This is the paper in which Berkeley published his discovery of the basidium, apparently unaware of Léveillé's publication of the same discovery a year earlier.

Miles Joseph Berkeley (1839) "Description of exotic fungi in the collection of Sir W. J. Hooker, from memoirs and notes of J. F. Klotzsch, with additions and corrections" in Annals of natural history 3 pp. 325 - 401

Miles Joseph Berkeley (1840) "On the fructification of 99,Lycoperdon, 121,Phallus, and their allied genera" in Annals of natural history 4 pp. 155 - 159

Miles Joseph Berkeley (1843) "Notices of some Brazilian fungi" in The London Journal of Botany 2 pp. 629 - 643

Miles Joseph Berkeley (1844 - 1856) "Decades of Fungi" in Journal of Botany
Another major vehicle for Berkeley's publication of names. I'm not sure if he issued exsiccati along with these, or just the descriptions.

Jean Pierre Francois Camille Montagne & Miles Joseph Berkeley (1849) "Centurie de plantes cellulaires exotiques nouvelles: 11.5" (One hundred exotic new non-vascular plants) in Annales des Sciences Naturelles. Botanique (Annals of Natural History. Botanical series.) 3:11 pp. 235 - 256

Miles Joseph Berkeley & Moses Ashley Curtis (1849 - 1850) "Contributions to the mycology of North America" in American Journal of Science and Arts
Series 8-10
Publication of species co-determined by Berkeley and Curtis (probably mostly Berkeley, actually)

Miles Joseph Berkeley (1855 - 1860) The botany of the Antarctic voyage: Fungi
Berkeley wrote the section on fungi for volumes 2 (Flora Novae-Zealandiae) and 3 (Flora Tasmaniae). I guess that gives away the secret that most of the Flora-izing was actually done *on the way* to Antarctica... The voyage was Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker's baby, and he edited the series of books on it.

Miles Joseph Berkeley (1857) Introduction to Cryptogamic Botany

Miles Joseph Berkeley & Moses Ashley Curtis (1860) "Characters of new fungi, collected in the North Pacific exploring expedition by Charles Wright" in Proceedings of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences, USA 4 pp. 111 - 130
The "North Pacific" in the title refers to the area of the country that we now call the Pacific North-West. If Wright was at all a good collector, I imagine that they got some great things out of this trip.

Miles Joseph Berkeley (1860) Outlines of British Fungology
Just think: if Berkeley's terminology had caught on, we might all be studying Fungology instead of Mycology.

Miles Joseph Berkeley & Moses Ashley Curtis (1869) "Fungi Cubenses" in The Journal of the Linnean Society. Botany 10 pp. 280 - 392
Part 1 of the article, on the Hymenomycetes, is co-authored; part 2, starting on page 341, covering a variety of non-basidiomycetous fungi, is by Berkeley.
I'm not sure what this is a flora of.

Miles Joseph Berkeley (1872 - 1876) "Notices of North American Fungi" in Grevillea
These are the articles in which Berkeley wrote up most of the collections sent to him by Moses Ashley Curtis.

Miles Joseph Berkeley & Christopher Edmund Broome (1875) "Enumeration of the fungi of ceylon" in The Journal of the Linnean Society. Botany 14 pp. 29 - 140

Miles Joseph Berkeley & Mordecai Cubitt Cooke (1877) "The fungi of Brazil, including those collected by J. W. H. Trail... In 1874" in The Journal of the Linnean Society. Botany 15 p. 363

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Abortiporus fractipes (M. A. Curtis & Berkeley) Ryvarden & R. L. Gilbertson
Aleurodiscus oakesii (M. A. Curtis & Berkeley) Höhnel & Litschauer
Amanita ceciliae (Broome & Berkeley) Bas
Amanita flavorubens (Berkeley & Montagne) Saccardo
Boletus retipes M. A. Curtis & Berkeley
Bovista pila Berkeley & M. A. Curtis
Callistosporium luteoolivaceum (M. A. Curtis & Berkeley) Singer
Cantharellus lateritius (Berkeley) Singer
Cheimophyllum candissimus (M. A. Curtis & Berkeley) Singer
Cortinarius iodes M. A. Curtis & Berkeley
Crepidotus crocophyllus (Berkeley) Saccardo
Cyptotrama asprata (Berkeley & M. A. Curtis) Redhead & Ginns
Cyptotrama chrysopeplum (M. A. Curtis & Berkeley) Singer
Entoloma abortivum (M. A. Curtis & Berkeley) Donk
Ganoderma curtisii (Berkeley) Murrill
Hygrophorus nitidis M. A. Curtis & Berkeley
Laccaria laccata (Scopoli: Fries) Broome & Berkeley
Laccaria ochropurpurea (Berkeley) Peck
Lactarius hygrophoroides M. A. Curtis & Berkeley
Laetiporus persicinus (Berkeley & M. A. Curtis) R. L. Gilbertson
Lycoperdon pulcherrimum Berkeley & M. A. Curtis
Mycena leaiana (Berkeley) Saccardo
Nolanea murraii (Berkeley & M. A. Curtis) Saccardo
Nolanea quadrata M. A. Curtis & Berkeley
Osteina obducta (Berkeley) Donk
Panaeolus subbalteatus (Berkeley & Broome) Saccardo
Peziza succosa Berkeley
Phallus ravenelii Berkeley & M. A. Curtis
Phellinus rimosus (Berkeley) Pilát
Tremella fuciformis Berkeley
Tremella reticulata (Berkeley) Farlow
Volvariella taylori (Berkeley & Broome) Singer

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Badhamia Berkeley
Cyttaria Berkeley
Glaziella Berkeley
Laccaria Broome & Berkeley
Sclerocystis Berkeley & Broome
Strobilomyces Berkeley
Wynnea M. A. Curtis & Berkeley

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