Regina Olson Hughes

Botanical artist

For many years, Regina Olson Hughes led a double life: as the quiet, reserved wife of Gallaudet College’s popular economics professor, Frederick H. Hughes—and as an eminent botanical artist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Later, she worked at the Smithsonian’s Department of Botany. Four of her lifelong passions were art, flowers, language, and travel. She was a skilled multi-lingual translator who loved to sketch and paint scenes from her extensive travels. She is best known, though, for her beautiful, intricately detailed watercolors and pen-and-ink illustrations of exotic plants, orchids, and common weeds. Although she had a flamboyant side, she remained unpretentious, continuing her botanical work even without drawing a salary. Among her many honors and recognitions: a new species of Brazilian bromeliads (plants in the pineapple family) and a genus of the aster (daisy) family were named in her honor. Of course, she illustrated both.

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