|BOTANICAL ELECTRONIC NEWS|
|No. 299 December 13, email@example.com||Victoria, B.C.|
On October 7, 2002, a plaque commemorating Professor Vladimir Krajina was unveiled in the Charles University Botanical Garden in Prague. Prof. Jenik's lecture given at this occasion (see below) will be published in the Czech botanical journal Preslia. ["Who was Vladimir Krajina?" will be the topic of the next Botany Night , January 21, 2003, in Victoria, BC; Swan Lake Nature House, 7:30 p.m.]
The notable personality of Czech and Canadian science and culture, Vladimir Josef Krajina, was given a deserved honour with the unveiling of a memorial plaque in the Botanical Garden of Charles University. Two countries on the opposite ends of the Northern hemisphere, the Czech Republic and Canada bear the gift of his lifework which reaches into the breadth of knowledge and humanity. Krajina's heroic life has been a subject of many historical studies and many institutions and much technical literature in North America are profiting from his scientific legacy. Neither do Czech biologists forget the contribution of this outstanding graduate of the Faculty of Natural Sciences of Charles University and honorary member of the Czech Botanical Society.
The whole of the 20th century in Europe was a dramatic period: It actually involved three world wars, because beside the two global military engagements it encompassed a fierce political confrontation of the so called western and eastern block - the Cold War, during which many European nations suffered enormous material and moral losses. Into the timeframe of this disturbing century was set the dramatic life of V.J. Krajina - talented, upright, and industrious - born in 1905 in Slavice in Moravia and deceased in the thousands of kilometres distant Vancouver, B.C. The details of his exceptionally varied life were published already during his lifetime by his former students and were delved into by historians. 10 years ago the Czech Botanical Society published a special biography of its honoured member in the magazine Preslia, including a long list of publications by this creative author. After Krajina's death further works incorporating his botanical, ecological and geographical conclusions and quoting his opinions saw the light of day. New historical studies and reminiscences about his social and political engagement during the Second World War, and the period directly after the war, are constantly cropping up. It is therefore evident, that a complete and definitive Krajina biography transcending both the scientific and historical aspects of his life is still waiting to be done.
Krajina studied at the Prague Faculty of Natural Sciences during 1923-27. As an all around talented student he soon got involved in the scientific work at the Botanical Institute and began publishing interesting results based on observations in the terrain and comparison studies in the herbariums. For example, he discovered a new species of butterwort, which he named Pinguicula bohemica. He also successfully entered into the difficult taxonomy of grasses of the genus Festuca. On the basis of his habilitation work on the subject of Alpine type plants he graduated with the degree of RNDr. in 1927 - that is at the age of 22 - after only 4 years of university studies. For his brilliant record he was rewarded by the prestigious "red diploma" and was personally congratulated by the then president T.G.Masaryk, who presented him with a golden watch. Krajina demonstrated his enduring devotion to the first Czechoslovak president still in 1990 when, after many years of emigration, he showed this gift to the assembled students and assistants at the Chair of Botany in Prague.
After graduating Krajina was engaged as an assistant in the Botanical Institute of the Natural Science Faculty of Charles University - that is the very building on which some 75 years later the commemorating plaque was placed. He continued his studies and learned other languages so that he could arrange periods of work at various universities, as well as the Bishops Museum in Hawaii. He used the plants he collected during his foreign travels, as well as his acquired experience, in a number of original scientific publications. Concurrently he was also busy in field studies in Slovakia, so that he was already named university "Dozent" at the age of 29 when he submitted his dissertation work on plants in the Mlynica Valley in the High Tatras. After its publication in German (the lingua franca of Middle European biologists) this extensive work was for long decades considered to be an example of modern botanical and ecological work and its factographic contents continue even now as a source of ecological databases. As a young "Dozent" Krajina chaired the Union of Assistants of Czech Universities and in 1936 initiated the enactment of the law defining the legal position of university instructors. Later this law became known as "Lex Krajinae".
After the forced closing of Czech universities in 1939 Krajina abandoned scientific work and put all his intellectual abilities at the service of the antifascist resistance. During the war he was at the helm of secret intelligence service which maintained radiotelegraphic connection between Prague and London. Several times he avoided capture and sure death by a hair's breadth. His heroic behaviour and role in the resistance movement were rightfully recognized: he was given high military and civil decorations by the government and president Benes. These chapters of Krajina's courage are detailed in several books.
When the war ended in 1945 Krajina resumed lecturing at the Charles University and was soon named full professor. He was also elected into parliament and became a high official of the National Socialist party which stood in direct opposition against the emerging communist tyranny. Among Czech botanists there are still many who attended Krajina's lectures in plant morphology which took place in the early morning hours, before the parliament sat. As an active politician he could not, understandably, return fully to his scientific work.
After the forced change of political system in 1948, Krajina left Czechoslovakia just in time. Nevertheless, he was sentenced to 25 years of prison in absentia. During his brief stay in Britain he led the memorable court case with the soviet press agency TASS. In 1949 he obtained a position at the University of British Columbia in the Canadian city of Vancouver. At this university he progressed through the various steps of academic career until, ten years later, he was again named full professor of botany and ecology. He spent two sabbatical periods as a visiting professor at the University of Hawaii back on the islands whose flora he had already studied in 1928.
During his time in Canada and Hawaii Krajina specialized in the studies of native forests of North America and vegetation of Pacific islands. His original classification of forest ecosystems and geographic zones are used in forest management and nature protection of B.C. Based on his expert knowledge he initiated a network of ecological reserves which was established throughout the whole province of British Columbia. His many disciples at the university took over important positions within Canadian Forestry and also at other universities of North America (and Hawaii). He lectured at many scientific congresses and conferences, where his methodology gained numerous adherents. He explained his theoretic ideas as well as practical applications in 150 scientific publications which are often quoted in world literature.
For his scientific and pedagogic merits prof. Krajina became an honorary member of many botanical and forest associations; he is, for example also a honorary member of the prestigious Linnean Society in London. Two scholarships in Canada carry his name as does a vast natural reservation on Graham Island. In 1972 he was awarded the George Lawson Medal by the Canadian Botanical Society, in 1976 he was named a Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Forestry, and in 1981 he was made an Honorary Life Member of The University of British Columbia Alumni Association. In 1981 he was also invested in the Order of Canada - Canada's highest civilian award, and in 1982 he received the degree Doctor of Science, honoris causa from the University of British Columbia. In 1990, after more than 40 years of emigration he was given by president Vaclav Havel Czechoslovak highest civil decoration - the Order of White Lion - first class. No other biologist of Czech origin has earned such comparable foreign and domestic awards.
In March 1990 the staff and students of the Faculty of Natural Science in Prague met with Dr. Krajina at a seminar. Thus was a warm contact between the involuntary emigrant and his Alma Mater renewed. It was again possible to use all of Krajina's publications which were considered libri prohibiti by the previous regime. The large auditorium in the Botany Building was honoured with Krajina's name. Unfortunately the renewed connection with Charles University was broken first by illness and finally by his death in 1993. The ashes of this national hero returned permanently to Prague and were duly placed at the National Cemetery of Vysehrad.
Although the humanitarian and scientific legacy of Vladimir Josef Krajina dwells in his generous second home in Canada it begins to regenerate also here in the Czech lands where human limitations and political development were for a while stacked against this famous native.
In the second edition of the Flora of Alberta (Moss & Packer 1983), only a single species of eyebright is recorded for Alberta under the name Euphrasia arctica Lange ex Rostrup var. disjuncta (Fern. & Wieg.) Cronq. Currently this taxon is normally ranked as a species under the name E. subarctica Raup, for instance in the Flora of the Yukon Territory (Cody 1996). It is not particularly close to the original E. arctica, a taxon endemic to the Faroe, Shetland and Orkney Islands. Euphrasia subarctica is native to the northwestern cordillera of North America, and is found widely in Alberta on moist open ground in the Rocky Mountains. A second species of eyebright in Alberta first came to my attention during visits to Elk Island National Park (some in the company of Patsy Cotterill) during 2001. Here it grows along a stretch of old non-maintained trail (approximately 1 km long) known to us as the west section of the Sandhills Trail. During 2002 Ms. Cotterill confirmed the persistence of the population at this site. Also this year, Eileen Ford documented a new population of what was clearly the same species on the Elizabeth Lake Trail in Lacombe, near Red Deer, Alberta. These plants were clearly different from those of E. subarctica in the mountains, having larger showy flowers and densely short-glandular leaves. They belong to the "Euphrasia stricta group" in the broad sense, a tetraploid (2n=44) complex introduced to North America from Europe. An illustrated popular article prepared by Ms. Ford is in press. The purpose of this note is to acquaint botanists with some difficult problems of taxonomy and hence nomenclature attending any technical discussion of these introduced eyebrights.
The starting point for any discussion of eyebrights in North America must be the monograph written by the English botanists Sell & Yeo (1970). They reported two members of the E. stricta group as having spread to Western North America, E. borealis (Townsend) Wettst. and E. nemorosa (Pers.) Wallr. These species were distinguished in Sell & Yeo's key by the node at which flowering commences (7th to 9th node in E. borealis, 10th to 12th node in E. nemorosa) and the leaf vestiture ("leaves with short bristles sometimes confined to the margins, often with short glandular hairs" in E. borealis, "leaves glabrous or minutely ciliate" in E. nemorosa); the corolla and capsule sizes overlapped. In Yeo's (1972) treatment of Euphrasia in Flora Europaea, the rank of E. borealis was reduced to that of subspecies, as E. arctica Lange ex Rostrup subsp. borealis (Townsend) Yeo, but E. nemorosa (Pers.) Wallr. continued to be recognized as a species separate from E. arctica in a wide sense (inclusive of five geographical subspecies). Since Yeo's interpretation was the result of decades of cytological and experimental work, as well as study of herbarium material, it is not to be dismissed lightly. In recent North American reference works (e.g. Kartesz, 1994, 1999), E. borealis and E. arctica subsp. borealis have been listed as synonyms of E. nemorosa presumably on the basis of numerical cluster and principal component analyses by Downie et al. (1988). These authors reported that their results did not support the recognition of E. borealis and E. nemorosa as separate taxa. Although the characters used in their analyses included those referred to above as discriminating the taxa, they did not, unfortunately, publish their data matrix, so it is impossible to re-evaluate their conclusions. So the question arises: has the distinction between E. borealis and E. nemorosa maintained in European literature broken down in Eastern North America, or was the failure to detect it by Downie et al. (1988) due to some defect of their method of analysis or other problem? This question cannot be answered at the present time. Meanwhile North American botanists are left in a quandary regarding what nomenclature to use. My opinion is that it is preferable to follow the nomenclature in Flora Europaea with respect to introduced taxa of Euphrasia, pending the results of further research such as that being undertaken by Ernst Vitek of the Vienna Museum. The recently discovered Alberta populations agree fully with the diagnosis of E. borealis given by Sell & Yeo (1970) and by Yeo (1972) in his contribution to Flora Europaea.
The two taxa of Euphrasia now known in Alberta may be distinguished (at least with respect to Alberta material) by the following couplet:
There is more old-growth forest in British Columbia now than 100 years ago, amounting to 62 million acres. That total is projected to increase in the century ahead.
Gordon Campbell, Premier of British Columbia
Vancouver, British Columbia - December 6, 2002