Heiser, Charles B(ixler), Jr. 1920-

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HEISER, Charles B(ixler), Jr. 1920-

PERSONAL: Born October 5, 1920, in Cynthiana, IN; son of Charles Bixler (a businessman) and Inez (Metcalf) Heiser; married Dorothy Gaebler, August 19, 1944; children: Lynn Marie, Cynthia Ann, Charles Bixler III. Education: Washington University, St. Louis, MO, A.B., 1943, M.A., 1944; University of California, Berkeley, Ph.D., 1947.

ADDRESSES: Home—605 Bell Trace Ct., Bloomington, IN 47408-4410. Office—Department of Biology, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. E-mail[email protected].

CAREER: Washington University, St. Louis, MO, instructor, 1944-45; University of California-Davis, associate in botany, 1946-47; Indiana University, Bloomington, associate professor, 1947-51, professor, 1957-79, distinguished professor of botany, 1979-86, distinguished professor emeritus, 1986—.

MEMBER: National Academy of Sciences, American Society of Plant Taxonomy (president, 1967), Society for the Study of Evolution (vice president, 1968, 1972; president, 1974), Society for Economic Botany (member of council, 1968-70; president, 1978), Botanical Society of America (president, 1980), Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi.

AWARDS, HONORS: Guggenheim fellowship, 1953; senior postdoctoral fellowship, National Science Foundation, 1962; Gleason Award, New York Botanical Garden, 1969; merit award, Botanical Society of America, 1972; Distinguished Economic Botanist, Society for Economic Botany, 1984; Pustovit Award, International Sunflower Association, 1985; Asa Gray Award, 1988, and Raven Outreach award, 2002, both from American Society of Plant Taxonomists.


Study in the Evolution of the Sunflower Species Helianthus annuus and H. bolanderi, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 1949.

Nightshades: The Paradoxical Plants, W. H. Freeman (San Francisco, CA), 1969.

(With Dale M. Smith, Sarah B. Clevenger, and William C. Martin, Jr.) The North American Sunflowers (Helianthus), Torrey Botanical Club (New York, NY), 1969.

Seed to Civilization: The Story of Man's Food, W. H. Freeman, 1973, 3rd edition, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1990.

The Sunflower, University of Oklahoma Press (Norman, OK), 1976.

The Gourd Book, University of Oklahoma Press (Norman, OK), 1979.

(With Michael D. Whalen and Denise E. Costich) Taxonomy of Solanum Section Lasiocarpa, L. H. Bailey Hortorium (Ithaca, NY), 1981.

Of Plants and People, University of Oklahoma Press (Norman, OK), 1985.

The Fascinating World of the Nightshades: Tobacco, Mandrake, Potato, Tomato, Pepper, Eggplant, Etc., Dover (New York, NY), 1987.

Weeds in My Garden: Observations on Some Misunderstood Plants, Timber Press (Portland, OR), 2003.

Contributor of more than a hundred articles to scientific journals.

SIDELIGHTS: Botanist Charles B. Heiser, Jr. has written about plants for both scholarly and general audiences. His books typically reveal interesting and little-known facts about various common plant species. In The Gourd Book, for example, Heiser explains how these vegetables have been used throughout history to make everything from containers to musical instruments. "This delightful book," observed Karen Van Epen in the Whole Earth Review, "covers the botany, uses, myths, and legends of our ancestors' longtime plant companion."

In 2003, Heiser published Weeds in My Garden: Observations on Some Misunderstood Plants, in which he reveals how many plants that gardeners and other people have come to dread actually are very useful; others, indeed, can be harmful. Heiser's book definitively describes which is which to uncover for the reader reasons for a greater appreciation of these neglected plant species in a way that is both "erudite and entertaining," according to Carol Haggas in Booklist.



American Biology Teacher, November-December, 1993, Elwood B. Ehrle, review of Of Plants and People, p. 503.

American Scientist, July-August, 1988, John H. Beaman, review of Of Plants and People, p. 402.

Booklist, April 1, 2003, Carol Haggas, review of Weeds in My Garden: Observations on Some Misunderstood Plants, p. 1363.

Horticulture, July, 1981, Gordon DeWolf, review of The Gourd Book, p. 12.

Library Journal, March 1, 1980, Edith S. Crockett and Ellis Mount, review of The Gourd Book, p. 573; May 1, 1985, Annette Aiello, review of Of Plants and People, p. 68.

Science News, August 9, 2003, review of Weeds in My Garden, p. 95.

Whole Earth Review, spring, 1996, Karen Van Epen, review of The Gourd Book, p. 46.


Indiana University Web site, http://www.indiana.edu/ (February 20, 2004), Charles B. Heiser, Jr. Faculty Page.*

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Heiser, Charles B(ixler), Jr. 1920-

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