Howard scott gentry (1903–1993)

Howard Scott Gentry was recognized as the world's leading authority on agaves. He made his first field trip into the Sierra Madres in 1933 and then spent most of the next twenty years exploring the flora, fauna, and fossil record in northern Mexico and the American Southwest. During World War II he searched for sources of natural rubber in Mexico and the United States and afterwards completed his Ph.D. in botany at the University of Michigan in 1947.

From 1950 to 1971 Gentry explored North and Central America, South Asia, the Middle East, parts of Africa, and the Mediterranean for germ plasm for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, New Crops Research Branch. Over the course of his explorations, he introduced 15,000 plants into the United States for study. In addition to his pioneering exploration of the Sierra Madre Occidental, assited by his wife Marie Ann Gentry, his most notable contributions would include the development of a cortisone precursor compound, the introduction of disease-resistant wild beans, the development of jojoba oil, the introduction of the seedless grape from Afghanistan, and the introduction of Proteas from South Africa as exotic ornamentals.

In 1971 Gentry became affiliated with the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix and spent the next ten years focusing on cataloging the extensive Agave genus for publication. In addition, until his death in 1993, he managed the Gentry Experimental Farm in southern California for the investigation of dryland crops. His pricipal written works include Agaves of Continental North America, Rio Mayo Plants of Sonora-Chihuahua, The Warihio Indians of Sonora-Chihuahua: An Ethnographic Survey, and The Agave Family of Sonora.

Written by Linnea Gentry for the exhibit Gentry's Agaves