Passing of Jim Varnum aka jim-botany

I met Jim Varnum (@jim-botany ) through iNaturalist.. Really. While I knew of his name and received his famous "Jim's This and That" newsletter each month, it was not until I started iNaturalist that I really got to know him. I would post plants and he would identify. He would graciously point out that I needed more views and angles to get primroses, vetch, and other plants down to the species. He also would point out various books to use to help identify. I actually met him in person at the Mansfield Mothing event in Spring of 2015 were we also met fellow inaturalist @sambiology . Jim and I talked much that day about how to teach people how to identify the native flora as people knowing were becoming far and few. Jim knew those special places and times such as where and when all the trout lilies bloomed and where the orchids were hiding and much more. While we were not in the same master nat chapter, he had no issues including me and sharing his knowledge. I'm glad his postings in inaturalist are available to document many of the plants he identified. He was a great person, a knowledgeable naturalist and someone I hope to emulate as the years go by. He freely gave walks to educate others and also offered to go on ID walks at anytime to share his knowledge in the area. There are many things I didn't know about Jim, but I know if he touched me in a special way, he surely had an impact on those that he was following on inaturalist. It may have been because of your friendship or knowledge or something special you had. I wanted to make sure you were aware that he passed away a few weeks ago just in case you did not know and can share with others.

The funeral home has opened a guest book where remembrances of Jim Varnum may be written:

This message is intended for those on inaturalist that he was following, but feel free to share with others. @bob777 @cgritz @donyoung @gcwarbler @gwbrown @itmndeborah @kimberlietx @lauramorganclark @postoak @rehb @squaylei2000 @suz @zooga1961

Update: I figured out how to pull the 70+ people following Jim, so I wanted to pass this information along. I know many of you knew this already, but I wanted to reach out to those that might not have known and thus sending to all.

@abigailmm @acamonda @alusk @amgross @andyk @anewman @apcorboy @atassin @bbelcher @brentano @cari @cjsolberg @coe @crazyhorse @donaldhapp @eglarkspur @e_keith @elizrose @ellen5 @fritzk1 @gloriveenieves @howard @jackiesherbals @jackwlatson @jasmineo1 @jay_33 @jaydubyah @jblinde @karenkroesen @karinsaucedo @kcsemrau @krstldwn @ktcorson @layla @lgbartley @libikavanah @limabenjamin @lkpres @magatr0n @marug @maryejohnson @mc_biology_club @mikegras @mustardlypig @naturalistnickells @ncowey @njohnson @nlrudr @ntc @ntmnobserver1998 @obidaddy @picklepastures @prairiepoint @rclark3141 @rebecca_atx @rolandfarm @sarahedeerman @sbetzen @shutterpug @slbarnes @sonnia @sonniahill @stalinsm @sy25805 @tadamcochran @tonja @trehman

Posted by butterflies4fun butterflies4fun, May 05, 2016 13:13


I, too, benefited from Jim's teachings much like you did. Thanks for sharing this with this group.

Posted by suz over 5 years ago (Flag)

Sorry to hear. He helped me several times and he will be missed. Thanks to iNat his legacy lives on.

Posted by oz4caster over 5 years ago (Flag)

My wife and I enjoyed meeting and speaking with Jim at the spring bioblitz at Oliver Nature Park almost a year ago and his passion for botany was obvious. We spoke since then about John F. Burke Nature Preserve in Farmers Branch as we live in FB and he managed its iNaturalist project. It's closed just now due to flooding but we'll visit as soon as it re-opens and we'll be thinking about Jim while we're there.

Posted by rehb over 5 years ago (Flag)

As someone still relatively new to ID'ing plants, I was surprised by Jim's casual and humorous way of teaching a newcomer. Despite his busy schedule, he made time to meet me and 2 others on a personal walk. I was happy to see him at the Tandy Hills Bioblitz just 2 days before his passing. Those two times were enough to impress upon me his warm and generous spirit. His loss is felt by even the newest of his students.

Posted by kimberlietx over 5 years ago (Flag)

Thank you for letting us all know. The plant community will be much smaller now

Posted by ellen5 over 5 years ago (Flag)

Thank you for your post about Jim. I always looked forward to Jim's messages and he helped me out several times with my ID's. Jim will be missed by me and many others.

Posted by karenkroesen over 5 years ago (Flag)

Thanks for this. One of the last things Jim helped me identify was a largeseed forget-me-not. I will not forget this large-souled man who gracefully gave me countless assists identifying species and helped inspire a love of botany and a love of place.

Posted by atassin over 5 years ago (Flag)

Still doesn't seem real. 😟

Posted by obidaddy over 5 years ago (Flag)

thanks for posting. i gained so much from Jim.

Posted by prairiepoint over 5 years ago (Flag)

I had the distinct pleasure of walking two parks with Jim several weeks before he died. I corresponded with him a number of times before and after that. He was a generous, kind, and beautiful spirit. The world has been diminished by his death.

Posted by jackinaustin over 5 years ago (Flag)

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