|BOTANICAL ELECTRONIC NEWS|
|No. 372 February 7, firstname.lastname@example.org||Victoria, B.C.|
Botany BC 2007 will take place from Thursday, May 10th through Sunday May 13th in Osoyoos, B.C. Details will be posted at http://members.shaw.ca/dmeidinger/botanybc/ by the beginning of March.
Botany BC participants from 2005 and 2006 are included in the e-mail distribution list and will be notified when program and registration forms are posted. If you have not attended in the last two years, please contact Elizabeth Easton [Elizabeth.Easton@gov.bc.ca] to be included on the e- mail distribution list so that you will also be notified when program and registration information is available on the Botany BC website or check back to the Botany BC website address listed above.
BOTANY BC is an annual meeting of botanists and plant enthusiasts of British Columbia and is open to anyone interested in plants regardless. Although BOTANY BC meetings are focused to British Columbia, we welcome all the plant enthusiasts from the neighbouring provinces/states, and from elsewhere in the world.
Please pass this notice on to anyone else you think may be interested in this year's Botany BC in the beautiful South Okanagan/Similkameen area.
The Suksdorf name is legendary in Bingen: It's the name of the family that founded the city of Bingen.
One member of the family -- Wilhelm Nikolaus Suksdorf, who lived from 1850-1932 -- was regarded as an expert botanist. The Native Plant Society of Oregon recently referred to him as "a botanical giant," and "the most prodigious early pioneer collector of plants in the Northwest."
Suksdorf lived in a two-story, three-room wooden house, at what is now 524 W. Lincoln Street in Bingen. That house may now be threatened: Its foundation is deteriorating, and the house could be torn down.
The owner of the house, Bingen resident Jeff Rogers, is currently in Hawaii and could not be reached for comment. The Suksdorf house is now a rental property, and city officials said Rogers eventually plans to raze the old structure and build a new home on the site.
A group of botanists and historians is hoping to see that does not happen. Members of the Native Plant Society want to see the house moved to another location and preserved as a museum and a memorial to "one of the greatest botanists the Northwest has known."
Mo Miles, owner of Milestone Nursery in Lyle, is among those who supports preserving the house.
"Absolutely. I'd always like to preserve history," Miles said. "Suksdorf had a lot of local impact identifying plant species in this area. So many of the plants are named for him. I didn't realize he had such a huge specimen collection."
Suksdorf was reported to have as many as 150,000 specimens in his collection, with 70 species, as well as the genus Suksdorfia, directly named after Wilhelm Suksdorf.
Suksdorfia is defined as a "small genus of rhizomatous herbs," and plants with "orbicular to kidney-shaped somewhat succulent leaves and white or rose or violet flowers in terminal panicles."
After he died in 1932, approximately 30,000 of Suksdorf's specimens were taken to Washington State University. Those specimens formed "the backbone of the college's botanical collections," according to the Native Plant Society.
"The attitude amongst botanists is that he was far and away the most famous botanist in Washington, and one of the first. His house is like a Mecca," Miles pointed out.
Terry Trantow, a member of the Bingen City Council and a board member of the Gorge Heritage Museum in Bingen, said he does not see any immediate threat to the historic house.
"Jeff has no current plans to do anything with the house," Trantow said.
He added that the topic had been discussed recently by members of the City Council.
"We discussed potentially moving it behind the museum," Trantow explained. "The concern was, would there be proper setback on it, and would it get in the way of something else we might want to do there?"
The century-old W. N. Suksdorf house in Bingen Washington may be in peril.
Wilhelm Nikolaus Suksdorf (1850-1932) was a botanical giant who lived a quiet and secluded bachelor life in Bingen Washington, a town on the Columbia River in Klickitat County, which was founded by his family.
During Suksdorf's lifetime, the people of Bingen were mostly unaware that Suksdorf was the most prodigious early pioneer collector of plants in the Northwest. On his death 30,000 of his meticulously prepared specimens were sent to Washington State University where they formed the backbone of the college's botanical collections. His total specimens numbered over 150,000. At least 70 species plus the genus Suksdorfia were named for him. Many believe that W. N. Suksdorf was Bingen's most important citizen. Now we hear that his historic home in Bingen may be destroyed.
In 1910, Suksdorf's brother Phillip built a small, two- story, 3-room wooden house for the botanist in Bingen. Suksdorf kept his huge herbarium in the upstairs room. Below he lived his bachelor life, even baking his own bread. Many botanists, including myself, Adolf Ceska, and members of the Washington and Oregon Native Plant Societies, make frequent visits to view the old house. (It has wings added on either side now and is painted barn red.)
After Suksdorf's death, the house came into private hands. Today, nearly 100 years old, the house has an aged foundation and the present owner may find it necessary to demolish the structure. I and others feel that, with the help of botanists, history buffs, and flower lovers throughout the Northwest, the house might be saved. We hope to convince the City of Bingen to acquire and move the original part of the house to public property where it can be maintained as a museum and lasting memorial to one of the greatest botanists the Northwest has known.
When Marion Ownbey went to Ecuador to hunt for new sources of quinine during WW II he left me in charge of the curatorial work at the Washington State University herbarium in Pullman, Washington. At about that time I distinctly remember accessioning the 75,000th specimen in the WSU herbarium. But my labeling of all the Suksdorf collections resulted in about 40,000 specimens awaiting mounting.
Fortunately I was acquainted with Leonard Wing, one of the zoological faculty, who was doing some sort of a primitive data base project, I believe, on some ornithological topic. He told me that he had thousands of cards that had to be done something with, and hit on the idea of arranging for the female inmates of the State Prison at Walla Walla to help him with the task. He also suggested that this might be a way of cutting down on the backlog of herbarium specimens if I could take the time to go down there every week.
This, I learned, could be arranged, so every weekend I packed up a pile of specimens, mounting glue and label paste, scissors, red tape, etc., and went down to Walla Walla by car with Leonard, depositing one set and retrieving the previous one, for as many weeks as I had left before being called up in the draft.
The ladies assembled in a single work room and mounted the specimens with great care and devotion. They were so happy to have some small connection with living things outside the prison. All the women were life termers, murderers: one was a doctor who had performed abortions, another a lady who had drowned her husband in the bathtub, and I don't remember the crimes committed by the others, but they were all delightful people. At the end of the session every day the scissors and other materials were safely stowed out of reach. I taught them how to mount the plants, and they did not mischievously switch labels, as someone warned me they might do. All were seriously doing a job that they realized had to be perfect.
I do not remember how long I did this, but I believe I was called up before the job was finished. Nevertheless, the project was one that I really appreciated being able to work on, and I was very happy to see that I might be making those folks' lives more worth living.
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