ISSN 1188-603X

No. 447 January 11, 2012 Victoria, B.C.
Dr. A. Ceska, P.O.Box 8546, Victoria, B.C. Canada V8W 3S2


From: Vipen Sawhney, Biology Department, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon - originally published in CBA/ABC Bulletin 44(3): 84-85.
Photo Plate:

Professor Emeritus Taylor A. Steeves of the Biology Department, University of Saskatchewan (U of S) passed away on September 6, 2011. Taylor was born on November 29, 1926 in Quincy, Massachusetts. He did his B.Sc. at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, and in 1951 received his Ph.D. from Harvard University. During his graduate years at Harvard, Taylor spent a year as Sheldon Travelling Fellow at the University of Manchester and worked with the famous plant morphologist Prof. C.W. Wardlaw. After obtaining his Ph.D. he was appointed a Junior Fellow of the Society of Fellows at Harvard. In 1953, while a Fellow at Harvard, he was a Visiting Scientist at the Institut National de Recherches Agronomiques in Versailles, France. It was there that he acquired his lifelong interest in the language and culture of France that was to take on additional dimensions in later years of his life. In 1954 Taylor returned to Cambridge to join the faculty of Harvard University as an Assistant Professor.

In 1959, after he had just finished a 5-year appointment as Assistant Professor at Harvard, Taylor was offered a position at the U of S as Associate Professor with tenure, and without an interview, by then Head of the Biology Dept., Prof. Rawson, an eminent biologist in his own right. Taylor had also received offers from Brown University and from Universities of California at Los Angeles, Texas, and Virginia. After receiving the offer from the U of S, Taylor went to see the University and the city of Saskatoon. The Biology Dept. at Saskatoon had no building at that time but it was under construction and he was initially going to be housed in the basement of Physics building. Prof. Rawson offered Taylor to have his lab built in the new building the way he wanted it. Taylor was happy about that and saw a lot of potential at the place and liked the campus. He specially loved the city and its surroundings, the South Saskatchewan River, the vastness of the prairie land, and the accessibility to an off campus site, the Emma Lake campus. He accepted the job and then approached Prof. Rawson for travel expenses about his visit to the university. However, he was told that because he was not invited for an interview and came here on his own, there would be no reimbursement. Many years later when I was Department Head and we were inviting candidates for interviews, and in some cases for a subsequent visit, and we looked after their expenses, I was reminded repeatedly by Taylor that he never got paid to come here; I told him that is the price for being an exceptional candidate. Then, one year after joining the U of S, Taylor was offered the position of Associate Professor at Yale University with tenure, but he turned it down as he felt he had made a commitment to the U of S. This one act alone speaks volumes about the character of the man. Taylor stayed with the U of S Biology Department until his retirement in 1994. He was promoted to the rank of Professor in 1964 and served as the Department Head from 1976 to 1981, and then again from 1987 to 1988. He was named the Rawson Professor of Biology in 1985 for his distinguished service.

Taylor served the botanical community and his discipline in various capacities. He was the founding member of the Canadian Botanical Association/Association Botanique du Canada (CBA/ABC), and served as its President in 1973. He served the CBA/ABC in various other capacities including as chair of the Plant Structure and Development section, judge of Lionel Cinq Mars award and for hosting the annual meeting in 1975 in Saskatoon. Taylor and his wife, Dr. Margaret (Peggy) Steeves, a paleobotanist, regularly attended the CBA/ABC meetings. In 1993, the CBA/ABC established the Taylor A. Steeves award in Plant Development in his honour, and made him an Honorary Life Member in 1994. In 1978, the CBA/ABC awarded Taylor its highest honour, the Lawson medal, and in 1990 the Mary E. Elliott service award. Taylor was also the editor of the Botanical Gazette (now the International Journal of Plant Sciences) from 1968 to 1974, and the editor of the Canadian Journal of Botany (now Botany) from 1979 to 1988. In 1996, the Botanical Society of America elected him a corresponding Member.

As a scientist, Taylor made enormous contributions to his field of plant morphology and development. His early research focused on several aspects of plant development including leaf and shoot development with particular emphasis on the use of plant tissue culture technique that he had acquired in France and introduced to his lab in Saskatoon. His research in later years involved native plants of the prairies and he and his students studied various aspects including, root growth, branching and vascular tissue differentiation. Taylor published numerous papers with his students and colleagues and was an invited speaker at many conferences and institutions in Canada and abroad. He co-authored an introductory text, Botany, which has been used by many institutions, and with his longtime friend, Ian Sussex, the book, Patterns in plant development, which became a standard text in his field. Taylor received several other awards including, Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada at the age of 45, an Earned D.Sc. from the U of S and an Honorary doctorate from the University of Guelph.

Perhaps Taylor's major contribution was in the area of teaching. He had an amazing wealth of knowledge which he transmitted to students with his wit, humour, enthusiasm, and storytelling. Students loved taking his courses and would come back for more. His style of teaching, his mannerism and persona were so powerful that many students actually changed the direction of their program and switched to studying plants. He was most proud of his students and their successes and was very caring of their welfare. When the U of S awarded him the Master Teacher Award, he treasured that more than any other award as teaching for him was of prime importance. Taylor was not only a great speaker but he also spoke very fast, and it was said that "Taylor could teach two classes at the same time by standing in between the doorway of two class rooms".

As a person Taylor was the kindest human being and a very compassionate and gentle soul. He was also very concerned about environmental issues and was a strong proponent of conservation. Throughout his stay at the U of S, he rode a bike during spring and summer, and walked in winter. I recall some Saskatoon winter days with temperatures hovering around -30 deg.C, Taylor would arrive in the Department with his buffalo coat and a beard with icicles hanging down his face. He was very much into recycling materials, whether it was clothes or the use of office supplies; this was during the times when it was not fashionable to talk about conservation and going green, but Taylor practiced it all his life. He also had a great sense of humour and loved telling jokes and would start laughing before he would finish.

Taylor Steeves was an icon in the field of Botany. He will be sorely missed as a dear friend, wonderful colleague and mentor, outstanding scientist and teacher, and an exceptional human being. His passing is an end of an era...


From: Britt A. Bunyard - Abbreviated for BEN from Fungi 4(5): 28 & 42. 2011.
Photo Plate:

The rules of natural selection and speciation become strained when we consider the Fifth Kingdom and probably none is more enigmatic than the paradoxical mushroom Squamanita. The genus is comprised of only a few species, all of which are rarely seen. And all species of Squamanita are parasites of other mushrooms. But it gets weirder still: the Squamanita basidiocarp seems to be a chimera of its tissues and those of its host. The Powdercap Strangler, Squamanita paradoxa, demonstrates this visibly (Fig. 1) where the tissues of the host-the Pungent Powdercap, Cystoderma amianthinum (Fig. 2)-contribute to the scaly powdery look of the lower half of the stem (actually an elongate gall induced by the parasite). Huh?

Okay, your befuddlement is expected. Mycologists long thought species of Squamanita arose from a sort of tuber. In fact, the elongate bulb of tissue at the base of the Squamanita stipe in Figure 1 was originally termed a "protocarpic tuber." Only recently did Redhead et al. (1994) demonstrate that species of Squamanita were parasitic on other mushrooms and that the protocarpic tubers were actually the mutated remains, a gall really, of the host's fruitbody. The term "cecidiocarp" has replaced protocarpic tuber to reflect the fact that this tissue is truly a gall.

Along with uncertainty about their physiology, mycologists were never quite sure how to treat them taxonomically. In older field guides Squamanita species may instead be called Coolia or Dissoderma. They have been lumped within the Agaricaceae and Tricholomataceae (historically the dumping ground for white spored mushrooms that didn't fit in any other families). Recently, Matheny and Griffith (2010) resolved this once and for all, utilizing DNA sequence analysis and with surprising results. Turns out Squamanita is most closely related to Cystoderma and Phaeolepiota, the latter, another curious and rarely seen group of mushrooms. The findings of Matheny and Griffith are surprising when you consider that Squamanita species parasitize its close kin, Cystoderma and Phaeolepiota! Hosts of other Squamanita species include less closely related species of Agaricales, such as Galerina (S. contortipes, the Contorted Strangler), Hebeloma (S. odorata, the Fragrant Strangler), and reportedly Amanita species.

All species of Squamanita are extraordinarily rare, though seen in Europe with slightly more frequency than in North America. Occasionally, "large" fruitings of several specimens are found as in a particular episode following heavy rains in Great Britain in 2009 (Kibby, 2009a and b). Probably the best known species in North America is the Powdercap Strangler. The last collection of it (indeed only the seventh from North America!) was by Oluna and Adolf Ceska on Vancouver Island, British Columbia as part of an ongoing mycological survey there (see Ceska 2010, GOERT 2010, & Luther 2011). WHAT YOU CAN DO: If you spot one of these enigmatic mushrooms take good notes On habitat and other mushrooms nearby, make every attempt to collect the Entire mushroom (including parts underground), take good photos, and dry them thoroughly. Then get them into the hands of a mycologist.


Ceska O. 2010.
A Survey of Macrofungi on Observatory Hill: Fall 2009 and Winter 2009/2010. Report to the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, Victoria, BC. March 31, 2010. 94 p. + 22 Plates. [manuscript]
GOERT [Garry Oak Ecosystem Recovery Team] 2010.
Macrofungi of Observatory Hill 2004-2010.
Kibby, G. 2009a.
Editorial. Field Mycology 10(1): 2.
Kibby, G. 2009b.
Editorial. Field Mycology 10(2): 38.
Luther, K. 2011.
What does it mean? Fungi at the boundaries of science, politics, and nationality. Fungi 4(4): 26-35.
Matheny, P.B. & G.W. Griffith. 2010.
Mycoparasitism between Squamanita paradoxa and Cystoderma amianthinum (Cystodermateae, Agaricales). Mycoscience 51: 456-461.
Redhead, S.A., J.F. Ammirati, G.R. Walker, L.L. Norvell, & M.B. Puccio. 1994.
Squamanita contortipes, the Rosetta Stone of a mycoparasitic Agaric genus. Canadian Journal of Botany 72: 1812-1824.

Figures (see

Figure 1. The Powdercap Strangler, Squamanita paradoxa, Vancouver Island, British Columbia. (These specimens comprise only the seventh collection ever for this extraordinarily rare species in North America.) Photos courtesy of Adolf Ceska.

Figure 2. The Pungent Powdercap, Cystoderma amianthinum Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Photo courtesy of Adolf Ceska.


From: Ben Legler,
Accompanying Table:

The Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria ( was created in 2007 to bring together regional herbaria and provide an online portal to herbarium specimen data for Pacific Northwest North America. Over 3.6 million specimen records are housed within the region's 57+ herbaria. Included are the U.S. states of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington, and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Yukon Territory.

In June of 2010, a collaborative, $1.3 million grant from the National Science Foundation was awarded to herbaria at the University of Washington, Oregon State University, the University of Idaho, and Montana State University. Grant funds are being used to image, database, and put online many more specimens from our region.

Our new web site, funded by the grant, currently provides access to over 1.7 million specimen records and 150,000 high resolution images from 13 herbaria, making it the most comprehensive source of herbarium specimen data for Pacific Northwest North America. Data are available for nearly all of the major herbaria in our region and a growing portion of the smaller herbaria, and cover vascular plants, bryophytes, algae, lichens, and fungi.

A redesigned specimen search page ( contains many features besides basic text searches, including map-based searches, images of specimen sheets, and numerous options for filtering, displaying, and downloading data. The 150,000 images are viewable online at full resolution and serve as a new digital reference for the region. You can also create checklists for counties or any arbitrary geographic region. Even more features are in development. These include mobile-optimized content to allow access to data and images in the field on a smart phone or tablet.

By the end of this 3-year grant, we will have acquired images for about 350,000 specimens from over 12 herbaria, including many smaller collections, and databased these plus another 200,000 bryophytes, lichens, and fungi. Combined with existing data, the total number of specimens accessible through our online portal may well exceed 2 million!

Our high-throughput imaging workflow uses a high-resolution digital SLR and lightbox to capture 100-150 images per hour. The images are centrally stored on a server at the University of Washington. We have developed web-based database software to capture label data from the specimen images using a combination of keystroking and optical character recognition. Several dozen students are employed at any one time to assist with imaging and databasing.

A key facet of our infrastructure is the centralization of image storage and database hosting on servers managed by the Consortium. This model allows us to leverage the technical expertise and staff at the larger partner institutions and eliminate the need for smaller institutions to maintain their own in-house database server and software. However, these institutions still have full access to their database thanks to the web-based software that runs through a standard web browser.

The web site is managed by the University of Washington Herbarium (WTU). Questions or comments can be sent to Ben Legler (, David Giblin (, or Dick Olmstead ( Many thanks to all of the herbaria who share their data through PNW Herbaria!

Please visit our web site for more information or to search our extensive collections.


From: Adrienne Harling, Humboldt State University in Arcata, CA and

The Rudolf W. Becking Collection documents the professional and political work of Dr. Rudi Becking from the time of his postsecondary education in the 1940s and 1950s, through his teaching career in the 1960s-1990s, and his continued work until his death in 2009. Rudi was a professor of Forestry and Natural Resources at Humboldt State University from 1960-1983. He did extensive work in Northwestern California. His research interests included Redwoods, sustainable forestry (Plenterung), plant community ecology (Phytosociology), serpentine endemics, the Marbled Murrelet, timber cruise methodology, and many other topics. He worked in the Great Smoky Mountains in the 1950s-1960s and again in the 1970s. He did additional scholarly work in Indonesia, the USSR and in China. Rudi also participated in political processes in the Northern California region. Highlights include involvement in the establishment and later expansion of Redwood National Park (1960s and 1970s), municipal environmental issues related to the city of Arcata, California and Humboldt Bay in the 1970s and 1980s, revision of the California Forest Practices Act in the 1970s, and many other regional environmental issues.

As far as the extent of phytosociological content in Becking's papers, there is a great deal throughout the collection with concentrations within particular series. In the "Botanical Studies" series, there are sub-series entitled "Phytosociology" focused on analysis methods and data (e.g. computer programs used to analyze Becking's "synthesis tables") and Becking's work specific to phytosociology as a method. There is also significant phytosociological data (releves and synthesis tables) within the subseries of "Sand Dunes" (including salt marshes but focused on Humboldt County area sand dunes), and the "Darlingtonia bogs" subseries.

Becking's work on Douglas Fir as a graduate student is in the collection as well. There is a good deal of material from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park from work Rudi Becking did with Robert Whittaker. Further, Rudi taught phytosociological techniques to his students and had them do data collection in a variety of settings including redwood forests and sand dunes. This material is available in the teaching series of the collection.

More information about the collection is available at

For Rudi Becking's biographical sketch see:


The article "BOTANY BC - TATLAYOKO LAKE - July 14-17, 2011" by Stephen Ruttan was originally published in The Log (the Friends of Ecological Reserves newsletter) Autumn/Winter 2011. It was posted in BEN with both the author's and Friends' permissions. For the original article see

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