ISSN 1188-603X

No. 289 May 26, 2002 Victoria, B.C.
Dr. A. Ceska, P.O.Box 8546, Victoria, B.C. Canada V8W 3S2

HOWARD ALVIN CRUM (14 JULY 1922 - 30 APRIL 2002)

Howard Crum was born in Mishawaka, Indiana, to Earl Earnest Crum and Eunice Eva Crum, the third of four boys. He graduated from Mishawaka High School in 1939, and followed his two older brothers to Western Michigan Teachers College (now Western Michigan University). In college Howard was a German major, but World War II interrupted his education, and he joined the United States Army Air Force in 1942. He served in the Intelligence Division where he was a cryptographer with duty in North Africa and the Middle East. Howard finished his military obligations in late 1945.

In the summer of 1946 Howard enrolled at the University of Michigan Biological Station, where he first met William Campbell Steere, who was his instructor for plant systematics. The following fall Howard returned to Western Michigan, changing his major from German to botany, and receiving his B.S. in 1947. He began his graduate work at the University of Michigan in the fall of 1947. He finished his Ph.D. in 1951, initially working with Bill Steere, but finishing with Harley H. Bartlett when Steere left for Stanford University. His thesis topic, never published, was a checklist of Mexican mosses with an analysis of their biogeographic relationships with the highlands of eastern North America.

Upon finishing his degree he followed Steere to Stanford for a 3-year postdoc, working primarily on mosses from arctic Canada and Alaska, and Puerto Rico. In 1953 his postdoc was up and Howard accepted a position in the Department of Biology at the University of Kentucky at Louisville. He only stayed there one year, after which he took up the Curator of Cryptogams position at the National Museum of Canada in Ottawa in 1954. Howard was there for 11 years, building up the bryological collection into a world-class resource. However, in 1965 he couldn't resist an offer from his Alma Mater and in the fall he accepted the offer of Associate Professor of Botany at the University of Michigan. Most summers he taught bryology at the University of Michigan Biological Station on Douglas Lake, where many students got to know him.

Howard's bryological mentor, W. C. Steere, is often credited with transforming bryology from an amateur pursuit into an academic profession in North America. In many ways, Howard was one of the first and most ardent converts to this viewpoint. From his earliest years in graduate school, following his release from the military, Howard was the consummate academic, devoting his life to the study of a group of plants which for most people are little more than a green carpet underfoot.

There was no group of mosses that Howard did not turn his attention to during his more than a half century of devotion to bryology. His earliest studies were primarily focused on gaining an intimate knowledge of the mosses of North America, including Mexico. However, because many mosses have wide distributions, he took a global view, one of the first bryologists to do so. In the 1950s Howard began a life-long collaboration with Dr. Lewis E. Anderson of Duke University, on a treatment of the mosses of eastern North America. The meticulous research required for such a massive task, ultimately recognizing some 750 species, was published in 1981. As a testament to this monumental work, which underwent repeated reprintings, few species have been found in the region in the subsequent 20+ years and very few species have undergone modern changes in concept.

While working on the project, Howard moved to the University of Michigan, and began teaching summer courses at the University of Michigan Biological Station at Douglas Lake. He was widely acknowledged as one of the finest bryological teachers due to his extensive field knowledge, energy, and wit. Because no adequate textbook was available, Howard wrote his first book, Mosses of the Great Lakes Forest. Nominally a book on the mosses of four counties around the Straits of Mackinac, Howard's chatty but engaging writing has served as an introduction to moss identification for generations of students. First published in 1973, a 4th edition is scheduled for posthumous publication.

During the final years of preparation of the Mosses of Eastern North America, Howard developed a fascination with peat mosses, the genus Sphagnum. He went on to publish the definitive treatment of Sphagnum for North America, and then moved on to South America, publishing over 100 taxa new to science. His manuscript was in a preliminary draft at the time of his death. During the period when Howard was primarily devoting his research time to Sphagnum, he took on the task of organizing, editing, and helping to write the Moss Flora of Mexico, a multi-authored project begun by Dr. A. J. Sharp of the University of Tennessee. Howard's knowledge of the Mexican moss flora, which formed the basis of his doctoral dissertation many years earlier, allowed this massive project, the first modern moss treatment for a tropical region, to be seen through to completion. However, despite this distraction, Howard maintained his interest in Sphagnum. In his next book on the subject, A Focus on Peatlands and Peat Mosses, Howard shared his extensive knowledge on the ecology and biology of Sphagnum.

After this, Howard needed a new challenge and turned his attention to the liverworts, a group of plants often associated with mosses, for which previously he had shown little interest. This diversion resulted in the publication of Liverworts and Hornworts of Southern Michigan, an update of W. C. Steere's similarly titled publication of 1940.

During the final few years of his life, Howard prepared a synthesis of much of his knowledge on the structure and classification of mosses and liverworts, resulting in Structural Diversity of Bryophytes, published on his 79th birthday. Howard Crum was widely considered the bryologist's bryologist because of his extensive knowledge of mosses from throughout the world. His voluminous publications covered mosses from all continents and all major groups of mosses. He was one of the few full-time research bryologists in North America, and set the standard not only for his students, but for his colleagues as well.

An obituary and complete bibliography will be published in The Bryologist.-- William R. Buck, New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, NY 10458-5126, U.S.A.


From: Peter F. Zika []

Mossy stonecrop, Crassula tillaea Les.-Garl. (Tillaea muscosa L.) is a dwarf annual member of the stonecrop family (Crassulaceae) native to sandy or gravelly open ground in Europe (Stace 1997; Bywater and Wickens 1983). This species has been known as a weed in California since 1927, when it was collected near Pescadero Creek in San Mateo Co. (Mason 3690 UC). It has spread to many places in California (UC Berkeley herbarium database), and to the north. Crassula tillaea was first collected in Oregon in 1984 (Wagner 3252 ORE, OSC), in vernally wet flats along Interstate Route 5 in Josephine Co. (Wagner 1991). Since then I have collected it from several sites in the southern Willamette Valley, in Lane Co., Oregon, where it is an occasional weed in damp open gravelly sites, usually disturbed, and sometimes grows with the uncommon native Montia howellii S. Watson. More recently, Crassula tillaea was reported further north, in Washington, as an adventive in King Co. (Jacobson 2001, Jacobson et al. 2001), where it was first collected in 1999 (Jacobson s.n. WTU). I collected C. tillaea six more times in Washington, and realized it was overlooked and was likely to be found even further north than the newly discovered populations at Port Townsend and Marrowstone Point in Jefferson Co. (Zika 15919, 15921 WTU), and at Deception Pass in Skagit Co. (Zika 15814 WTU). On 6 May 2002 I was able to visit some appropriate habitats in British Columbia, and collected Crassula tillaea from roadsides and a sandy meadow near the dunes at Island View Beach, on Homathko Road, at an elevation of 4 m, 48 degr. 34.5' N, 123 degr. 22.1' W, in Central Saanich municipality, Vancouver Island. Specimens (Zika 16845) will be deposited at CAN, UBC, UC, V, and WTU. This apparently represents a new record for Crassula tillaea from British Columbia (Douglas et al. 1998) and Canada (Scoggan 1978, Kartesz 1999).

Identification of Crassula tillaea requires a hand lens. The most useful character is the number of sepals, which are quite fleshy and persistent. Crassula tillaea flowers have three sepals, which separates it from C. connata (Ruiz & Pavon) Berger (syn. Tillaea erecta [Hook. & Arn.] Berger), a similar annual with four sepals visible in flower and fruit. Other key characters are found in Moran (1993). Crassula connata is a rare native plant in Washington and British Columbia, but also so small as to be easily overlooked. Indeed, the first records for C. connata in British Columbia and Washington were in 1977 (Ceska & Ceska 1980). Native Crassula connata and introduced C. tillaea are most easily found in April or May when the plants have matured and turn bright red. My experience with Crassula tillaea has mostly been on roadsides, fairgrounds, boat launches, and parking lots in Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. Crassula tillaea can sometimes be detected when driving at high speed along rural roads, when hundreds of tiny plants form a red mat just beyond the edge of the asphalt. However, C. tillaea can grow on thin-soiled ledges, the habitat of C. connata in San Juan Co., Washington. There is a small colony of C. tillaea that superficially resembles native C. connata on the well-trampled ledges of Pass Island at Deception Pass.

Given its rapid dispersal along roads in the Pacific states, it would be surprising if Crassula tillaea is not found on other sites on Vancouver Island or the mainland in the near future.


Bywater, M. & G. E. Wickens. 1983.
New World species of the genus Crassula. Kew Bulletin 39: 699-728.
Ceska, A. & O. Ceska. 1980.
Additions to the flora of British Columbia. Canadian Field-Naturalist 94: 69-74.
Douglas, G. W., G. B. Straley, D. Meidinger, & J. Pojar. [eds.] 1998.
Illustrated Flora of British Columbia, Vol. 2. Dicotyledons (Balsaminaceae through Cuscutaceae). British Columbia Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks, Ministry of Forests, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
Jacobson, A. L. 2001.
Wild Plants of Greater Seattle. Publ. by the author, Seattle.
Jacobson, A. L., F. C. Weinmann, & P. F. Zika. 2001.
Noteworthy collections, Washington. Madrono 48: 213-214.
Kartesz, J. T. 1999.
A Synonymized Checklist and Atlas with Biological Attributes for the Vascular Flora of the United States, Canada and Greenland. First Edition. In: Kartesz, J. T. & C. A. Meacham. Synthesis of the North American Flora. CD-ROM Version 1.0. North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, NC.
Moran, R. 1993.
Crassula. In: Hickman, J. C., Ed. The Jepson Manual of Higher Plants of California. Univ. of California Press, Berkeley.
Munz, P. A. & D. D. Keck. 1965.
A California Flora. Univ. of California Press, Berkeley.
Scoggan, H. J. 1978.
The Flora of Canada, Part 3 - Dicotyledoneae (Saururaceae to Violaceae). National Museums of Canada, Ottawa.
Stace, C. 1997.
New Flora of the British Isles. Second Edition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
University of California Berkeley herbarium database, on line:
Wagner, D. H. 1991.
Noteworthy collects, Oregon. Madrono 38: 145-146.


From: Dan Hays in Statesman Journal, Salem, OR - Sunday, March 3, 2002
Powers, David W. III, & Gregory L. Nelson. 2002.
Gentleman of the Old School: Reuben Denton Nevius. G.L. Nelson, Portland, Oregon. ISBN 0-9713544-0-5 [hard copy, oversized] 264 p. Cost: US$40.00

Available from:
Greg Nelson 888 SW Fifth Ave Ste 930
Portland, Oregon 97204
Phone: 503-973-7413

This is a quite extraordinary book in several respects. For one thing, it is beautifully designed and printed and looks for all the world like one of the better efforts from one of our finest university presses. But it is self-published.

It is the work of two authors in the sense that Powers (a graduate of Willamette University) who began it and did most of the work, was murdered before he completed the book. The book was finished and printed by his friend Nelson (who lives in Keizer and also is a Willamette graduate).

The subject of the book is Reuben Denton Nevius, a preacher who felt called to the West in the days of its settlement and development and helped establish churches in Eastern Oregon, in Washington and in Idaho. He also was an avid botanist who passed on that knowledge to anyone who would listen, a dedicated builder of churches, and a gifted teacher. His memory has, inexplicably, dimmed in recent years.

This book reads as good as it looks, and should go a long way toward restoring Nevius' reputation. It may be hard to find, but be persistent; its rewards are multiple.

[Discovery of a new species of Neviusia in California was posted in BEN # 50 (21-February-1993).]

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