The California Plant Collector
Today is the birthday of California plant collector, LeRoy Abrams, who was born on this day in 1874.
Abrams was born in Sheffield, Iowa. He moved west with his parents as a small boy. As a graduate student, Abrams performed yeoman's work botanizing the area around Los Angeles. A biographical sketch of Abrams said,
"[Abrams] crisscrossed southern California in a wagon, on the back of a mule or burrow, and on foot to make field observations... and collect specimens from Santa Barbara to Yuma, from Needles to San Diego, and from the Salton Sink prior to its flooding to the summits of Old Baldy"
In 1902, Abrams published a flora of Los Angeles and Vicinity. (The vicinity included a fifty-mile radius around LA).
In 1909, Abrams married a fellow student at Stanford. Her name was Letitia Patterson; they shared everything together - especially the joys of their mountain cabin they had built with their own hands on the west side of Fallen Leaf Lake. When their only daughter died a few short years after her college graduation, they shouldered their grief together.
Abrams served as the director of the Natural History Museum at Stanford, where he taught botany for thirty-four years. He did not live to see the completion of his dream, a four-volume work called An Illustrated Flora of the Pacific States(Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1923–1960, 4 vols.). However, it was Abrams's dream to carry out; he had been inspired by the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) and their three-volume work, An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada, and the British Possessions,by Britton and Brown.
Abrams was a loving teacher. His students called him "Father."