Donald Pinkava's journey from Asteraceae to Cactaceae: from the Ohio State University to Arizona State University


  • Melanie L. DeVore Georgia College and State University
  • Kathleen B. Pigg Arizona State University



Asteraceae, Berlandiera, Chemotaxonomy, Opuntia, plant systematics


Donald J. Pinkava is best known for his application of cytogenetics in unraveling the complex interspecific hybridization in the prickly pear genus Opuntia Mill. in the southwestern United States extending down into northern and central Mexico. Using cytogenetics, Pinkava delimited species boundaries within Opuntia for taxonomic treatments. His work on Opuntia in the Chihuahuan Desert led to later comprehensive contributions in the Flora of North America and the Flora of Arizona that include opuntias not only in the Southwest but in every US state. Pinkava's systematic knowledge, as reflected in his taxonomic treatments provided the basic scientific framework needed for ongoing conservation of Cactaceae in the Southwest to the present day. Interestingly, the starting point for all of Pinkava's contributions in Cactaceae began with his initial studies of Asteraceae as a student of T. Richard Fisher at The Ohio State University (OSU), an institution with longstanding research interests in the Asteraceae. It is there that he selected a genus, Berlandiera DC as his dissertation topic. Ironically, this genus has a range from the drier sites of the Eastern Coastal Plains, into the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains, with a disjunct distribution in the mountain floras of southeastern Arizona and Northern Mexico. Like Berlandiera, Pinkava’s own work reflects techniques and training in the eastern US, that migrated and was used as the basis for his groundbreaking studies of Cactaceae in the Southwest.


ALSTON, R.E. & B.L. TURNER. 1963. Biochemical systematics. Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, U.S.A.

CICHAN, M.A. & B.F. PALSER. 1982. Development of normal and seedless achenes in Cichorium intybus (Compositae). Amer. J. Bot. 69:885–895.

DEVORE, M.L. 1994. Systematic studies of Calyceraceae. Ph.D. Dissertation, The Ohio State University, Columbus, U.S.A.

FARABEE, M.J. 1983. Stratigraphic palynology of the lower part of the Lance Formation (Maestrichtian) in Crook County, Wyoming. MS Thesis, Arizona State University, Tempe, U.S.A.

FISHER, T.R. 1957. Taxonomy of the genus Heliopsis (Compositae). Ohio J. Sci. 57:171–191.

FISHER, T.R. 1989. The Vascular Flora of Ohio, Volume Two: The Dicotyledoneae of Ohio—Part Three: Asteraceae. Ohio State University Press, Columbus, OH, U.S.A. Pp. 280.

FUNK, V.A. 2003. 100 uses for an herbarium: well at least 72. American Society of Plant Taxonomists Newsletter.

FUNK, V.A., S. ALFONSO, T.F. STUESSY, & R.J. BAYER. 2009. Systematics, evolution and biogeography of the Compositae. International Association of Plant Taxonomists, Vienna, Austria.

FUNK, V.A. 2018. Collections-based science in the 21st century. J. Syst. Evol. 56(3):175–193.

HALDANE, J.B.S. 1949. What is life? The layman’s view of nature, L. Drummond, London, UK. P. 258.

HEISER C.B., JrR1951. The sunflower among the North American Indians. Proc. Amer. Phil. Soc. 95:432–448.

KEIL D.J., W. HODGSON, M. BAKER, & D. DAMREL. 2018. Four students remember their mentor Dr. Donald J. Pinkava, August 29, 1933–July 25, 2017. Canotia 12:1–9.

LES, D.H. 2011. Dedication. Daniel J. Crawford. Madro?o 58(4):283–284.

LIPSCOMB, B. 2020. In Memoriam: Billie Lee Turner (22 February 1925–27 May 2020). J. Bot. Inst. Res. Texas 14(2):521–536.

MAKINGS, L. 2018. In memoriam Donald J. Pinkava (29 August 1933–25 July 2017). J. Bot. Res. Inst. Texas 12(1):377–385.

MARCK, I. 2019. Dr. Vicki Funk (1947–2019). Rothfels lab accessed 2 May 2022.

NIXON, K.C. 2013. Phylogeny. In: S.A. Levin, ed. Encyclopedia of Biodiversity, second edition. Elsevier B.V., Imprint, Academic Press, Nether-lands. Pp. 16–23.

PACHECO P., D. CRAWFORD, & T. STUESSY. 1985. Flavonoid evolution in Robinsonia (Compositae) of the Juan Fernández Islands. Amer. J. Bot. 72(7):989–998.

PICKERSGILL, B. & G.J. ANDERSON. 2011. Travels with Charley: sunflowers and beyond: an appreciation of the life and work of Charles B. Heiser, Jr. (1921–2010). Econ. Bot. 64(4):281–286.

PINKAVA, D.J. 1963. Vascular flora of the Miller Blue Hole and Stream, Sandusky County, Ohio. Ohio J. Sci. 63 (3):113–127.

PINKAVA D.J. 1964. Biosystematic study of genus Berlandiera DC. (Compositae). Ph.D. Dissertation, The Ohio State University, Columbus, U.S.A.

POPHAM, R.A. 1966. Laboratory manual for plant anatomy. The C.V. Mosby Company, St. Louis, MO, U.S.A.

POWELL, A.M. 2020. Billie Lee Turner. Native Plant Society of Texas, accessed 2 May 2022.

ROLNIK, A. & B. OLAS. 2021. The plants of the Asteraceae family as agents in the protection of human health. Int. J. Molec. Sci. 22:3009.

RUDOLPH, E.D. 1990. Women who studied plants in the pre-twentieth century United States and Canada. Taxon 39(2):151–205.

RUDOLPH, E.D. 1996. History of the botanical teaching laboratory in the United States. Amer. J. Bot. 83(5):661–671.

RUDOLPH, E.D. & R.L. STUCKEY. 1969. History of Botany in the Ohio State University. Unpublished ms. The Ohio State University. accessed 18 April 2022.

SPOONER, D.M. 1990. Systematics of Simsia (Compositae-Heliantheae). Syst. Bot. Monogr. 30:1–90.

STACE, C.A. 2000. Cytology and cytogenetics as a fundamental taxonomic resource for the 20th and 21st centuries. Taxon 49(3):451–477.

STUCKEY, R.L. 1994. Emanuel David Rudolph (1927–1992): Polar lichenologist and historian of botany. Bryologist 97(4):437–446.

STUCKEY. R.L. 2000. In Memoriam: Tharl Richard Fisher. Pl. Sci. Bull. 46(2):41.

STUESSY, T.F., T. SANG, & M.L. DEVORE. 1996. Phylogeny and biogeography of the subfamily Barnadesioideae with implications for the early evolution of the Compositae. In: D.J.N. Hind, & H.J. Beentje, eds. Compositae: Systematics. Proceedings of the International Compositae Conference, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Vol. 1:463–490.

STUESSY, T.F., R.L. STUCKEY, W.L. BOOMGAARDEN, & W.R. BURK. 1997a. Botanical libraries and herbaria in North America. 2. The Rudolph natural history library and its acquisition by the Ohio State University. Taxon 46:643–648.

STUESSY, T.F., U. SWENSON, D.J. CRAWFORD, G. ANDERSON, & M. SILVA O. 1997b. Plant conservation in the Juan Fernández Island Archipelago, Chile. Aliso 16(2):89–101.

TURNER, B.L. 2015. All my academic children. Texensis Publishing, Gruyes, TX, U.S.A.

TURNER, M. 2020. Bill Lee Turner. Austin American Statesman accessed 1 May 2022.

WEISHAUPT, C.G. 1960. Vascular plants of Ohio: a manual for use in field and laboratory. (7 editions 1960–1971).

WEISHAUPT, C.G. 1967. Gramineae. In: E.L. Braun, ed. The Monocotyledoneae: cat-tails to orchids. The Ohio State University Press, Columbus.

WFO 2022. World Flora Online accessed 1 May 2022.

ZAVADA, M.S. 1976. Palynology of the Upper Cretaceous Fruitland Formation, San Juan Basin, New Mexico. M.S. Thesis, Arizona State University, Tempe, U.S.A.




How to Cite

DeVore, M. L., & Pigg, K. B. (2022). Donald Pinkava’s journey from Asteraceae to Cactaceae: from the Ohio State University to Arizona State University. Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas, 16(1), 273–280.