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COLLECTION Identifier: arn00021

Shiu Ying Hu field notes

Scope and Contents

This collection contains field notes by Shiu Ying Hu from 1939-1994. Her specimens are housed in the Harvard University Herbaria and these notes are related to the specimen collections.


  • 1939-1994


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is available by appointment for research. Researchers must register and provide one form of valid photo identification. Please contact for additional information.


0.8 linear feet (2 document boxes)

Biographical note

Shiu Ying Hu was born in China in 1905. She graduated from Ginling College in Nanking in 1933, and received her Master of Science degree from Lingnan University in 1937. In the following years, she established herself as an authority on Chinese botany, and lead expeditions to study the panda. She was the first Chinese woman to receive a scholarship from Harvard University to study botany, and in 1946 she came to the United States to pursue a Master’s degree in Botany at Radcliff College. In 1949 she graduated with a doctorate from Harvard University, completing her doctoral dissertation on the genus Ilex (Aquifoliaceae) under the direction of Professor E.D. Merrill. Receiving a grant from the American Philosophical Society, Dr. Hu began work on her manuscript Flora of China. Throughout her career, she produced and identified over 185,000 plant specimens and published over 160 papers. She researched specimens and literature in monographic, floristic, economic, and horticultural aspects of plants. She was considered an authority on Ilex, Hemerocaulis, Paulonnia, Compositae, Orchidaceae, and brocade ferns. Over 300 out of the 400 known hollies were named by Dr. Hu. Due to her extensive research and contribution to the field of botany, she was coined the “walking botanical encyclopedia” and nicknamed Holly Hu. In 1968 the Chinese University in Honk Kong invited Dr. Hu to join their faculty. For over thirty years she traveled to and from Hong Kong and Cambridge, teaching and researching in both locations. Establishing the Chinese University’s first specimen and research laboratory, she made a significant contribution to the study of botany and Chinese herbal medicine in Hong Kong. Auburn University established the Shiu-Ying Hu award in 1992. This award recognizes individuals who made a significant contribution in the field of botany. Dr. Hu was the award’s first recipient. In addition, she was also awarded the Bronze Bauhinia Star by the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in 2001. After retiring from teaching in the early 1990s, she continued to do research in preparation for three published manuscripts. She passed away in Hong Kong on May 22, 2012 at age 102.


In 2005 the Shiu Hing Yu papers were transferred to the Botany Libraries. In 2012 the collection was transferred to the Archives of the Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain, MA because that is where Dr. Hu did most of her work. Her botanical specimens are in the Harvard University Herbaria in Cambridge so her related field notes were retained by the Botany Libraries.

In 2018 Dr. Hu's remaining field notes were transferred from the Archives of the Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain to the Harvard Botany Libraries.

Related Materials

The bulk of Shiu Ying Hu’s papers are at the Arnold Arboretum Archives in Jamaica Plains, MA.

Conservation note

In 2019 five volumes were disbound in preparation for digitization.

Processing Information

Initial processing and biographical sketch by Laura Uglean, April 2006. Additional processing by Danielle Castronovo, April 2019.
Link to catalog
Hu, Shiu-ying. Shiu Ying Hu field notes, 1939-1994: A Guide.
Botany Libraries, Arnold Arboretum Library (Cambridge), Harvard University.
Description rules
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Botany Libraries, Arnold Arboretum Library (Cambridge), Harvard University Repository

Harvard University Herbaria
22 Divinity Ave
Cambridge MA 02138 USA
(617) 495-2366