ISSN 1188-603X

No. DXXXV April 1, 2019 Victoria, B.C.
Dr. A. Ceska, 1809 Penshurst, Victoria, BC, Canada V8N 2N6


I am the son of a school teacher. My mother taught biology and chemistry at the secondary school of the South-Bohemian town Strmilov, in the area that is officially known as Czech Canada! To be an offspring of a teacher is a sad fate. My loyalty was oscillating between the friendship with my pals and my mother's approval. At the same time, whatever I have ever done was not good enough for my mother. In addition, when my mother saw that I was getting depressed and needed some encouragement, she praised me for something that I did not like and considered inferior. As a result, I became critical to all my work and I have never finished many projects which I had started.

BEN format suits me well. Whenever I post the BEN issue, I feel a great relief and hope that the next BEN will be better. Hence, my "never-finish" problem became a drive that kept me going to post BEN since its very beginning.

I described the BEN beginning in BEN 521 (Ceska 2017). In October 1991, my friend the late Gary Shearman offered me to host BEN on the Victoria Freenet Association (vifa) computer system. He transferred BEN onto their computer system, and we are using that system ever since.

BEN #13 was the first BEN that used the vifa listserve and it was a disaster. My BEN 13 posting created a mail storm and every subscriber received over 70 BEN emails. The error was fixed, not too many people unsubscribed, and BEN was going on.

The most significant change in BEN happened in summer of 1995 when Scott Russell of the Oklahoma University offered me to archive BEN on the Oklahoma University web site. I agreed under the condition that he would do all the archiving work. We became close friends, and when we first met at the BOTANY 2000 in Portland, OR, we looked like two buddies who knew each other from the elementary school. Under Scott's influence, I was forced to take BEN more seriously, since I did not want him to waste his time on something far too silly.

The first April 1st issue of BEN was BEN #73, posted on April 1, 1994. In my student days, the English New Scientist used to publish a special April 1st issue called Old Scientist, and I had always enjoyed reading it. The very first April 1st BEN #73 brought a proposal of commercial planting of Cannabis sativa on Vancouver Island (this issue is still discussed today) and a note on A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada and Greenland by John Kartesz. That note I entitled Four kilograms of wasted paper where I called for the computerization of such information. My "wasted paper" title brought sharp criticism from several respected botanists. I wonder, are they still using the printed version of this checklist?

Many Canadian friends supported me in my work on putting BEN issues together. Bob Oglivie and Jan Kirkby read every my posting before I posted it, and corrected my English (Czechlish as some people call it) into a more readable form. Lately, I depend on the Grammarly program that fixes my use or misuse of articles and prepositions. If the result is not real English, it is usually better than my Czechlish. Apologies.

In the last two years, I lost quite a few contributors, some died, and several of them wrote me off when I criticized or rejected their work. Many BEN readers promised me their contributions, but I had a hard time to get them. I also got the impression that nobody reads BEN. After I announced quitting BEN few weeks ago, I received close to 100 emails. There were many where the readers thanked me for all what I did and many where the readers asked me to continue. Some threatened that they were going on Facebook in order to be in touch with me. I got new energy and a new push. But, is this really good material for the April 1st issue of BEN? Never mind, let's hope that the next BEN will be better!

Literature Cited Ceska, A. 2017. The Second Editorial Meeting of BEN (Botanical Electronic News). BEN 521.


Carl Coger (1987): In Search of Elusive Meadow-Foam.

The year 1987 was a year that I consider the best year in my botanical career in Canada. I made several memorable collecting expeditions. With the University of Guelph Prof. Don Britton, my wife and I went to check the old occurrence records for his (& Bill Cody's) Ferns of Canada, with my Provincial Museum boss, Bob Ogilvie, we collected in the northern Cascades and other parts of British Columbia. Highlights of that collecting season was a museum expedition to the islands off Prince Rupert. Oluna, my wife, had also a successful year. She finished her greatest discovery and her article on a new, previously unknown furanocoumarin, Coriandrin, was accepted for the publication in the prestigeous scientific journal Phytochemistry.

One project that dominated our activities throughout the year 1987 was the exhibition In search of the elusive meadow-foam, which the BC Provincial Museum and the Fairbank Calligraphy Society put together in the Fran Willis North Park Gallery from October 6 to October 22, 1987.

It was in 1973 when we discovered the first for us, a new site of Macouns meadowfoam, Limnanthes macounii, and by the year 1986, we found over 30 localities of this Vancouver Island local endemic species. It grew in wet depressions close to the shore, in wet seepages on open slopes and sometimes wet depressions in the coastal forest. Dry description of the meadowfoam spots with a list of species was too scientific and at the end, did not give one a good characterization of the habitat.

In the winter 1986/87, I approached our friend Carl Coger and asked him to paint one or several Macoun meadowfoam habitats in the way an artist would see it. Carl Coger is an excellent pastel and graphic artist. He was also a member of the Fairbank Calligraphy Society and had his studio in the Fran Willis North Park Gallery. Thanks to the great help of Rick Kool from the BC Provincial Museum (that later became Royal BC Museum) we put together an exhibition of Carl Coger's paintings and drawings, calligraphy by the Fairbank Society members, and a panel with all what we knew about the Macoun meadowfoam and its distribution.

The exhibition was a low key event, but still, it attracted quite a few Victoria naturalists and artists. It was a great honour for me when I met John Macoun's granddaughter on the exhibition opening night.

Newcombe Program run by the Museum added three evening lectures. Adolf and Carl spoke on the meadowfoam ecology and distribution, David Chamberlain (Royal Botanical Gardens, Edinburgh) spoke on Flora of Two Western Chinese Mountain Ranges, and Hans Roemer (Ecological Reserves, Victoria, BC) on Rare Plants and BC's Ecological Reserves.

Carl's paintings and drawings depicted the plant ecology well, even though they gave only a few details on the habitat. Following spring, few months after the exhibition, a son of our friend came to us and said:

"I went to that spot which was on the theme painting, and the meadowfoam was there!" "Where was it?" was our question. "On Gordon Head!"

Our painting was from above Galloping Goose Trail in Metchosin (about 25 km away), and our friend's son discovered a brand new locality that we did not know before.

>From other BC artists, E.J. Hughes (1913-2007) was a great artist who depicted vegetation and vegetation patterns of Vancouver Island and other parts of the Pacific Northwest in his painting. The Vancouver Island and the West Coast paintings are well documented in Robert Amos' monograph (Amos 2018). This monograph is the first part of the series; the second part will deal with Hughes' paintings from the interior BC and the Rockies.

When I see Old Baldy Mountain, either from the road or on the postcards, I have to remember my close friend, the late Prof. Donald Britton from the University of Guelph. I sent him to the Old Baldy Mountain to look for an interesting fern, Aspidotis densa. He went to Shawnigan Lake and went to the Mason's Store. He looked around and around, and after getting some courage to ask, he turned to the cashier?
"Can you tell me where the Old Baldy is?"
"Old Baldy is in Toronto, and he will be back this coming Thursday," was the answer.

Literature Cited

Amos, Robert. 2018.
E. J. Hughes Paints Vancouver Island. Touchwood Edition [Victoria, BC?] 204 p. ISBN-13: 978-1771512558


In the April 1st issue of BEN, BEN # CDXXXIII, I posted Google translation of the Christian Morgenstern's poem Galgenberg, Gallows Hill. I promised to try the Google translation again later, and here you can see it:

Original poem:

Blödem Volke unverständlich
treiben wir des Lebens Spiel.
Gerade das, was unabwendlich,
fruchtet unserm Spott als Ziel.

Magst es Kinder-Rache nennen
an des Daseins tiefem Ernst;
wirst das Leben besser kennen,
wenn du uns verstehen lernst.

English translation by Max Knight:

Enigmatic for the masses,
playfully with life we fool.
That which human wits surpasses
draws our special ridicule.

Call it infantile vendetta
on life's deeply serious aim --
you will know existence better
once you understand our game.

Google translation April 1, 2011:

Stupid people understand
drive of life we play.
Just what unabwendlich,
fertilized our scorn as a target.

Children like to call it revenge
On our being deeply serious;
I'll know life better,
if you learn to understand us.

Google translation April 1, 2019:

Incomprehensible to stupid people
we are doing the life game.
Just that, which is inevitable,
is the fruit of our ridicule.

Does it like to call children's revenge
in the life of deep seriousness;
you will know life better,
if you learn to understand us.

As you can see, Google Translator is getting better.

"Langsam, aber sicher!" as the German saying goes.

Have a nice day, eh

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