Meeting Time and Place

Fourth Monday of each month from 6:45 - 8:30 P.M.

REI store in Boca Park

710 S. Rampart Boulevard, Las Vegas, NV 89145

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Jeanne Sharp Howerton

The Astonishing Backstory Behind

the Discovery & Naming of

         Primula nevadensis:

        the Nevada Primrose

Due to a series of unfortunate events, the speaker who had planned to address SNRAA on September 23, has withdrawn. Jeanne Sharp Howerton has agreed to fill in with her newest presentation. Now be forewarned—it’s not really about rock art, but it goes hand-in-hand with the whole rock art experience and is guaranteed to open your eyes to a whole new world of knowledge.

Out in nature there is much more to experience than just rock art. Each area abounds with rocks and animals and insects and birds and flowers and beautiful scenery. These objects would have been observed by the makers of the petroglyphs and pictographs and there is little doubt that the Indians noticed all these things.

This is The Astonishing Backstory Behind the Discovery & Naming of Primula nevadensis: the Nevada Primrose, as Jeanne tells it:

“This whole project came about by accident when I noticed a photograph of Primula nevadensis on the Nevada Natural Heritage Program website that was attributed to the wrong person. I recognized the photo for I had guided Margaret Williams up to the cliffs of 11,302-foot Troy Peak on July 26, 1967, so she could see and photograph this lovely flower that grows nowhere else in the world. Well maybe. Sort of. Possibly. Or maybe not. After 80 years no one is really sure how to classify this primrose or an even figure out what to name it!

I called the webmaster and pointed out the mislabeling. She thanked me and then suggested that since I seemed to know quite a bit about the primrose perhaps I would write a 2–3-page article about the flower, plus add a picture, for the Nevada Native Plant Society newsletter. ‘Well that will be easy,’ I thought, so, I said ‘Yes.’ Eight months, 32-pages, and 56 photographs later, the project was done. Or rather, I stopped because the ending is being written even as we speak.

This is the most astonishing research I have ever done. It involves many of the world’s most noted botanists all with a connection to this tiny flower. The parts of the story and all manner of useful information seemed to fall from the sky into my lap and the timing of information was almost eerie.  I was unfolding a story full of drama and twists and turns and near misses. I found letters and notebooks and documents unseen for 80 years and learned a whole lot about taxonomy and binomial nomenclature—the scientific naming of specimens.”

Jeanne has been involved with SNRAA and exploring rock art since 1995. She is especially interested in archaeoastronomy and is thrilled to be giving this talk on the day of the Autumnal Equinox. Somewhere on this day the sun has cast a shadow or a dagger or light across a special petroglyph and the ancient stone calendars continue keeping track of time.

Margaret William’s photo of Primula nevadensis. July 26, 1967.

The cliffs on Troy Peak where the primula grows.

Troy Peak where Rogers McVaugh discovered Primula nevadensis in 1941.

Troy Peak & Primula nevadensis. 2019

Speaker for September 23, 2019

Jeanne Sharp Howerton

The Astonishing Backstory Behind

the Discovery & Naming of

Primula nevadensis:

the Nevada Primrose



Jan. 28        Dave Manley    “Photo Tour of Southwest Petroglyphs”

Feb. 25        Richard Jenkinson    “Rock Art of the Dinetah: Stories of Heroes & Healing”

Mar. 25        Scott Seibel    “Rock Art of the Phoenix Area”

Apr. 22        Carol Patterson     “Form Follows Function: Western Basketmaker II”

May 27        Kish LaPierre    “Well Protected Rock Art that most of us will Never See”

June 24       Darwin Johnson    “Rock Art from the Vernal, Utah Area”

July 22        Edna Clem        “Adventure to the Rock Paintings of Baja California”

Aug. 26        Ken Hedges    “Petroglyphs in Hawaii”

Sept. 23        Jeanne Howerton “The Astonishing History of Primula nevadensis”

Oct. 28        Larry Loendrf   “Coso and Dinwoody Petroglyphs”

Nov. 25        Dennis DeVore    “The Curious Case of the Invisible Panel