Pioneer of Ecotourism
Today is the birthday of the botanist professor Mildred Mathias who was born on this day in 1906 in Sappington, Missouri.
Mathias was a professor at UCLA for twelve years, until 1974. She also served as president of the American Society for Plant Taxonomists and the Botanical Society of America.
Matthias is remembered as a pioneer in the area of ecotourism. She enjoyed bringing botanists and amateurs alike all over the world to study and discover plants.
From her early days with Dr. Lincoln Constance at Berkeley, back in 1937, Matthias began to focus on Umbelliferae.
The Umbelliferae ("Um-bull-iffer-EYE") is a family of aromatic flowering plants, and it’s commonly referred to as the carrot, or celery, or parsley family.
It also includes other essential herbs like Angelica and Annis Carraway, and chervil, dill, fennel, lovage, and parsnip, just to name a few.
The growing habit in plants throughout the family varies. The taproots of carrot and parsnip are big enough to be harvested as food. Plants like cilantro, coriander, dill, and parsley or harvested for their leaves, which contain essential oils that are very aromatic. Also, the seeds of these plants, like fennel and cumin and coriander, are also harvested for cuisine.
Umbelliferae prefer soil that is cool; and, they grow best in the shoulder seasons. Umbelliferae are favorites among ladybugs and parasitic wasps.
The family Umbelliferae is named because of the tiny flowers that are clustered together to form in amble – a little flower overhang reminiscent of an umbrella.
It fits then that the Mathiasella bupleuroides is named in her honor. Mathiasella bupleuroides ‘Green Dream’ is native to Mexico; it was discovered in 1954. The umbelliferous flowerhead of Green Dream has these jade-green, bracts that appear from April to June. In the Fall, the flower heads turn a charming pink. Here's a fun fact; Green Dream was a bit of a sensation at Chelsea 2006.
Over the course of Matthias‘s career, she published over 100 articles and books about the Umbelliferae. Volume 26 of Madrono was dedicated to Mildred Mathias, and the tribute recognized Mathias' pioneering spirit and energy. In 1993, Mathias was honored as the Distinguished Economic Botanist of the year.