ISSN 1188-603X

No. 239 January 22, 2000 Victoria, B.C.
Dr. A. Ceska, P.O.Box 8546, Victoria, B.C. Canada V8W 3S2

WARREN "HERB" WAGNER (1920-2000)

From: W.R. Anderson & the ASPT web site: [Reprinted with permission.]

Warren H. Wagner, Jr. (known affectionately to all as Herb) died on 8 January 2000; he was in his eightieth year. He was probably the best-known botanist ever to work at the University of Michigan.

After Navy service in the Pacific during World War II, Wagner did his Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley, spent one year at Harvard as an instructor, and came to the University of Michigan as Assistant Professor of Botany in 1951. His primary research focus was the systematics, hybridization, evolution, and evolutionary history of ferns and fernlike plants, but his interests went far beyond ferns, to include (among many other things) oaks and other difficult groups of flowering plants, butterflies, and minerals. His energy was boundless and his enthusiasm famously contagious, which made him one of the most successful teachers of both undergraduates and graduate students in the University.

After retirement he continued to participate in the teaching of courses in plant systematics in both Biology and Natural Resources; indeed, he taught more in retirement than many younger colleagues ever do. He chaired or co-chaired 45 doctoral committees and served as a member of over 240 graduate committees. He served a term as director of the Matthaei Botanical Garden from 1966 to 1971, but administration was never his strong suit. He had more fun stirring things up and getting people excited than smoothing over rough places and finding consensus solutions to little problems that did not really matter in the "big picture," which was one of his favorite phrases.

In the 1950s and 60s, working in collaboration with his wife, Dr. Florence S. Wagner, he published a series of elegant studies showing that ferns hybridize freely and that hybridization is a major source of new species in plants. That idea is now widely accepted, but 45 years ago it contradicted a dogma that had been imported into botany uncritically from zoology, and the Wagners' beautifully documented research helped botanists realize that the constraints of plants' habits and habitats and reproductive styles made a different species concept appropriate for them. Wagner's attempts to infer the ancestors of the Hawaiian fern genus Diellia, and his desire to teach undergraduates how to think about evolutionary history, led him to propose a method of deducing phylogeny that was radical at the time, and with characteristic missionary zeal he went around the country and the world exhorting botanists to abandon their traditionally sloppy approach to the inference of phylogeny and start using methods that are explicit and testable.

Wagner's success and influence were widely recognized during his life. His many honors included election to the National Academy of Sciences in 1985 and the Asa Gray Award from the American Society of Plant Taxonomists in 1990. He served as president of seven professional societies, including the ASPT (1966), the Botanical Society of America, the American Fern Society, and the International Association of Pteridologists. He was in wide demand as a speaker to groups of professional botanists and amateurs, and after the talk he was likely to sit down at a piano and entertain the astonished guests with lively honky-tonk playing. He is survived by his wife, Florence, their children Margaret and Warren, both of Ann Arbor, and two grandsons. Condolences may be sent to: Dr. Florence Wagner, 2111 Melrose, Ann Arbor, MI 48104.

IRVING W. KNOBLOCH (1907-1999)

Michigan State University pteridologist Irving W. Knobloch (or "Knobby", as he was affectionately known) died 27 December 1999 at the age of 92. Born in Buffalo, New York, Knobloch earned bachelor's and master's degrees at what is now SUNY at Buffalo. In the 1930s, he was a naturalist and cultural foreman with the Civilian Conservation Corps for projects in New York's Allegheny Sate Park. In 1937 he went to a rugged part of Mexico to manage a copper mine. He became known for identifying new plants and animals in that region. Knobloch went on in 1940 to Iowa State University where he received a doctorate in botany in 1942. Joining MSU in 1945, Knobloch taught biological science and natural science, then botany and plant pathology. In 1960 he was president of the university's chapter of the American Association of University Professors. After retiring from MSU 25 years ago, Knobloch was a university and community volunteer.

[This note was originally posted on the ASPT web site; posted on BEN with permission.]


From: Katie Stewart []

Botany BC 2000 planning is well underway. It will be held from July 13-15, at Reynolds Ranch (owned by The Land Conservancy of British Columbia), on the west side of the Fraser River near Big Bar Ferry. Accommodation and meals will be provided by Big Bar Guest Ranch, which is an approximate half hour drive from the ferry. Approx. 40 reservations have already been made for most of the camping spots, 3 tepees and 4 cabins; there is still a tepee left for 3-4 people, one cabin space for a woman and a number of twin-bed and queen size bedrooms available.

Please check with the ranch at 250-459-2333 regarding accommodation or email PRIOR to contacting Katie Stewart at 250-386-4792 or email: to register. Early registration and deposits are required because we are staying at the guest ranch at their peak season.

Check the guest ranch web site: !


Lieth, H., J. Berlekamp, S. Fuest, & S. Riediger. 1999.
Climate Diagram World Atlas. Backhuys Publishers B.V., Leiden, The Netherlands. ISBN 90-5782-031-5 [CD-ROM] Price: US$64.50

Available from:
Backhuys Publishers B.V.,
PO Box 321,
2300 AH Leiden,
The Netherlands

Climate diagrams are brief summaries of climatic variables and their seasonal variation. They were originally developed for vegetation studies by Walter & Lieth, but they have proven useful for a wide range of sciences, horticulture, teaching, etc. In biological and geological sciences climate diagrams have been used to show the relationship between soils, vegetation and climate. In agriculture, horticulture, and forestry, they can be used to indicate the range for certain crops, trees, weeds, or cultivated plants.

In the climate diagrams the monthly average temperatures are plotted together with the total monthly precipitation in the scale where 10 deg. C of average temperature correspond to 20 mm of total precipitation. The area where the precipitation line dips below the temperature line indicates dry season; the area where the precipitation line is above the temperature line indicates moist season. The diagrams also show frost periods. Since all the diagrams are plotted in the same scale, it is possible to compare moisture, temperature and other environmental conditions in widely separated parts of the world.

For more information and a demo version, visit the following web site:

[When you order the Climate Diagram Atlas, please, mention that you read about it on BEN. Thanks! - AC]

A NEW CD OF NATIVE WILDFLOWERS OF CALIFORNIA Photographed by Brother Alfred Brousseau F.S.C.

This CD contains the total Brousseau collection of 11,300 wildflowers, 900 mushrooms, 500 tree, and 300 High Sierra scenery pictures. This CD was made using HTML so can be viewed by any web browser such as Netscape or Internet Explorer.

In the Home Page you will find buttons to go to the various sets of pictures. e.g. the first set is that of Native Wildflowers of California by Latin name. Below this appears the alphabet, each letter of which acts as a button for the flowers whose latin name begins with that letter. Click on one of these and up will come the list of flowers belonging to that group. Each flower name acts as a button to the pictures of that flower. After viewing these, you can return to the list by the use of BACK.

Copies of this can be obtained from Brother Eric Vogel, Saint Mary's College, Moraga, CA, 94575. Since this is a not-for-profit project, a donation of $20.00 is requested to help pay the expenses of this project. Make any check out to The Brousseau Project. For further information, Brother Eric can be contacted at the e-mail address of:

P.S. More information about these pictures and about the Brousseau project can be found at:

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