|BOTANICAL ELECTRONIC NEWS|
|No. 244 March 21, email@example.com||Victoria, B.C.|
Professor Emeritus of the University of Washington in Seattle, on the occasion of his 80th birthday, March 21, 2000. His name does epitomize the Pacific Northwest botany. All the best, Art!
Just before World War II Art started graduate study at Stanford University, spending the summer and autumn of 1941 working for the Carnegie Laboratory Group (Jens Clausen, David Keck, and William Hiesey) and becoming well imbued with the then rather new concept of ecotypic variation within species. However the Stanford contacts were short-lived, as the war years saw him studying the Japanese language and serving as a language officer in Japan. But in 1946 he returned to botanical pursuits as a graduate student, although at University of California, Berkeley, rather than at Stanford.
At Berkeley, Art soon came under the influence of Herbert Mason, Ledyard Stebbins, and Hans Jenny. Mason had recently written his seminal paper on edaphic endemism (Madrono, 1946) and encouraged Art to embark on a dissertation study involving endemism on serpentine soils. This required little urging, and soon Art was avidly collecting seeds and soil on serpentine and non-serpentine sites in the Coast Range. Four years of intense work resulted in his dissertation "An experimental inquiry into the nature of endemism on serpentine soils", and his first publication, "Intraspecific variability in the response of certain native plant species to serpentine soil" (Amer. J. Bot. 38: 408-419), both in 1951.
When he moved to Seattle later that year, he brought seeds and soil with him, and continued to work on Californian species, especially the Streptanthus glandulosus complex. In the first decade at the University of Washington, he also worked extensively on hybridization and cytogenetics of several wide-ranging American genera. At the same time he began studies of ultramafic soils and their vegetation in the Pacific Northwest, with emphasis on ecotypic responses to serpentine and non-serpentine substrates.
As well as working on specific research problems, Art has published some very useful general syntheses: "Plant life on serpentinite and other ferro-magnesian rocks in North America" (Syesis 2: 16-114, 1970); "California serpentines: flora, vegetation, geology, soils, and management problems" (Univ. of California Publications in Botany 78: 1-180, 1985); "Endemic metallophytes: their taxonomic, genetic, and evolutionary attributes" (Pp. 301-312 in J. Shaw [ed.] Heavy metal tolerance in plants: evolutionary aspects, CRC Press, 1991).
Along with his dedication to serpentine, Art has been very active in other areas. During his long teaching career, he took special interest in undergraduate students, but also guided 10 graduate students in doctoral dissertations, and 14 students in their M.Sc. studies. Conservation of nature was high in his priorities long before this received more popular notice. He was an early member of the Advisory Council of the Washington State Heritage Program, and a leader in the successful efforts to have the Eldorado Creek serpentine area near Mt. Stuart set aside as a research natural area. Also he was a co-founder of the Washington Native Plant Society, and long-time editor of its newsletter, Douglasia. At the national level, he was a member of the Science Advisory Board of the Center for Plant Conservation. Coming from a Los Angeles family long associated with agriculture and horticulture, it is not surprising that he has had a lifelong interest in horticultural and garden plants. He combined his horticultural and native plant expertise in the very useful and popular book "Gardening with native plants of the Pacific Northwest" (Univ. of Washington Press, 1982). His recent book "Natural history of the Puget Sound country" (Univ. of Washington Press, 1991) is of much broader scope, combining his interest in plants, geology, soils, vegetation, and history.
In finishing this sketch, let me comment on his way of living and working. He is gregarious, devoted to family and friends, and an effective and sought after leader of field excursions and discussion groups, always ready to help others, and a wise counselor. Also he maintains an active correspondence with colleagues over the world. But in his own work and writing, he is an individualist, doing his plant trials by himself, making his own evaluations of results, formulating his own essays, and rarely collaborating with others. His greatest delights and relaxation are in reading (voracious and wide-ranging) and in growing plants. Art also plays clarinet, oboe and bassoon, but it is the bassoon which he often plays in the ensembles. Characteristically he may be seen late in the day at the greenhouse bench, seeding some serpentine endemic or ornamental plant. We are all fortunate to be influenced by this serpentinophile.
Botany and Horticulture are regarded as separate disciplines with separate purposes, distinct faculties, often housed in different colleges altogether. As recently as the early 19th Century, however, Thomas Nuttall was both director of Harvard's botanical garden overseeing the growing of plants and the college's botanist at the same time. From the time of Theophrastus until the last century, the professions of medical doctor, herbalist, gardener and taxonomist were inextricably intertwined.
Art Kruckeberg doesn't practice medicine or dispense herbal cures, but he does exemplify the extraordinary benefits of being a botanist-gardener. His scholarly knowledge of the ecological and edaphic requirements of native plants provided unprecedented underpinnings to his landmark horticultural treatment of gardening with native plants of the Pacific Northwest. This partnership of disciplines is carried a step further: he has tactfully worked alongside his wife Mareen in creating and managing MsK Rare Plant Nursery -- one of North America's premier rare plant nurseries that has provided us with untold treasures for decades. Many of our finest specimens at Denver Botanic Gardens trace their pedigrees to this jewelbox of plant gems.
Over years I have marveled at Art Kruckeberg's vast appetite for Flora and his zest for sharing that love: he is legendary for teaching by motivation, example and inspiration. His landmark research on serpentine endemism has spawned an entire subculture along the West Coast of serpentine gardeners who campaign to protect these fragile natural areas as well as strive to replicate them in their gardens.
Kruckeberg's botany has obviously contributed immeasurably to the art of gardening in America. Likewise, I maintain that Art, the horticulturist, who has observed plants intimately from seed to maturity is a better botanist for this. We can surely say that there has never been another botanist-gardener or gardener-botanist who has excelled in both disciplines to this extent, at least until you go back to Linnaeus that is.
At the University of Washington it was Fall term, 1950. I was an 18-year-old freshman English major. My advisor examined my high school transcript and recommended I get science over with by enrolling in a General Biology course being team-taught by various members of the science faculty. The first term was taught by A. R. Kruckeberg. It was an enormous lecture section offered in a huge sloping room on the first floor of Johnson Hall. I had quite a hike there from the English Department on "upper campus" and often arrived a bit late, taking a seat near the back. On the podium far below Art held forth. I found him a fascinating presence. Tall and skinny, with a handsome profile and somewhat imperious manner, he tended to pontificate a bit, but in a riveting style making use of his legendary vocabulary. I fell under his spell.
I believe this was Art's first teaching term at Yew-Dub. He was fresh from graduate school at Berkeley, and before that some prestigious branch of the military. His vast intellect and enthusiasm for his subject were spell-binding and I began to become a biologist. I found it interesting that he was apparently not at all concerned with matters sartorial. I seem to recall a bony elbow visible though the frayed arm of an old sweater. I doubt he smoked a pipe while he lectured, but his chin usually had an FDR-like upward tilt. I began to spend less time studying Lord Jim and Tess of the D'Urbervilles and more time on biology. When I received a most encouraging mid-term report from Art my mind was made up: it would be more science for me, more time with the interesting people and subject matter on "lower campus."
We now jump to the summer of 1952. Having completed two terms of General Biology I had taken C. L. Hitchcock's spring term Plant Systematics. That of course clinched it -- I would be a botanist! Luckily for me, the Botany Department was offering one of its famous summer field courses that year. This would last from June to August and visit the Wenatchee, Blue and Wallowa Mountains of Washington and Oregon, the Seven Devils of Idaho, and the great National Parks of the Southwest, Zion, Bryce, Mesa Verde and the Grand Canyon. Gas rationing during WWII had made pleasure trips impossible and my family was poor so I had hardly been away from Seattle. It sounded like a dream come true, and, to make it perfect, the course would be taught by Art Kruckeberg and C. L. Hitchcock, my heroes and mentors.
We left Seattle June 18 and drove to our first campsite at Scatter Creek north of Cle Elum with Art as our leader. (Hitchy [C.L. Hitchcock] would join us at various times later.) Bob Ornduff was a member of the party as was Art's future wife, Mareen. In the field, Art wore an old blue Rutgers sweat shirt and a baseball cap. His military training must have been fresh in his mind as he was in the habit of prefacing announcements with the shout, "Now hear this!" and calling us to meals with "Chow down!" He got us up at 5:30 each day and of course expected us to learn the flora of each area we visited. It rained a good deal. The time after dinner was our own to play volleyball, swim, and sing around the campfire. My journal notes that one night Art objected to our singing too late and rousted us off to bed. I wasn't a good student that summer but I had a wonderful time.
Art annoyed a few of the trippers with his sometimes haughty manner. One student went home sending back a poem, one line of which read, "Glabella, adunca, this is the bunk-a." Once on a field exam Art pointed to an unfamiliar bit of herbage and asked for the name. When we faltered and said it didn't look familiar, he informed us that it was a "diseased sterile shoot." Folks got a bit cross at that and later, when camped at Anthony Lake in the Wallowas a number of us got up a good-hearted little play. This was a courtroom drama in which one of our members donned the Rutgers shirt, baseball cap and pipe and played a stern and unmoving judge. I played the unrepentant prisoner in chains, "Silene Sal," who went to her fate still proclaiming that the genus Silene did not exist. (Art was researching that genus at the time.) Art took it all with good humor. As the weather got better, spirits rose and in all it was a marvelous summer that I will never forget.