What is the Dexter Collection of Wildflower Images?
The photographs of Texas wildflowers you see on these pages were taken by Anella and Laurence Dexter throughout Texas between 1951 and 1981 and are part of a larger collection presented to the Plant Resources Center by Laurence Dexter in 2000. Of the total collection of 591 flowering plant photographs, 217 have been scanned from the original 35mm slides for presentation here. Framed prints of some of the finest Dexter pictures of both flowering plants and mushrooms, also presented to the PRC by Mr. Dexter in 2000, may be viewed in the Herbarium Library within the Life Sciences Library on the UT campus.
Anella Wieber Dexter (1896-1988) was a dedicated conservationist and naturalist who worked tirelessly and successfully for the establishment of Padre Island National Seashore and the Big Thicket Preserve, as well as on other environmental issues in Texas. Trained as a chemist in her native Wisconsin, she married Laurence N. Dexter of Nebraska in 1930, and the two spent most of the rest of their lives in Louisiana and South and East Texas, ending up in Houston in the mid-1950s. Mrs. Dexter had a deep love of wildflowers, and both she and her husband loved photography. So Mrs. Dexter gave numerous wildflower talks around the state, illustrated by the couple's photographs.
There were plans with Texas A&M Press to publish a wildflower guide based on these photographs and Mrs. Dexter's knowledge in the 1970s, but the plans never came to fruition (partly due to a fire at the press in 1979). Failing health prevented Mrs. Dexter from pursuing this dream further. We are thus very happy to be able to present these photographs to a wider audience now, since they were presented to the PRC by Mr. Dexter with the hope that they could be used in education. The photos have not only aesthetic and scientific merit, but they also have a historical aspect, being film images of Texas plants from several decades ago.