Monday, March 14, 2005

Number 13 - Name That Botanist

By Childe Hassam, 1892

Here is a little twist on the "Name That Botanist" series I've been offering. This 1892 Childe Hassam painting illustrates the mother of a botanist in her garden on Appledore Island (Isles of Shoals), off the coast of Maine. She was an important American poet, and is the subject of a most interesting webpage concerning her style of dress in a circa 1858 CDV at which time she may have been pregnant with the botanist in question. Our fellow was born in Newton, Massachusetts. His mother was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. She is the subject of many webpages.

Click here to see a 1919 letter from her son to University of Connecticut botanist George Safford Torrey. The letter mentions the Entomophthora, a favorite group of our subject. He also was expert on the Laboulbeniales. He studied at Harvard under William Gilson Farlow, and after a brief sojourn in plant pathology at the University of Connecticut returned to the Harvard faculty in 1891. This letter was written during his first year of retirement from the active faculty at Harvard, and displays his new title of "Professor-Emeritus and Honorary Curator of the Herbarium and Laboratories of Cryptogamic Botany". He has been called the greatest mycologist of his time (Mycologia 25:69-89, 1933). This seems to be an example of hereditary excellence - by no means a unique case in the botanical world (DeCandolle, Michaux, Hooker, Bessey, Eaton, J.W. Bailey, to name but a few); although the fact that their high achievements were in such different disciplines is unusual.

here for some additional biographical information and a photograph.