Introduction of Plants to the USA
On this day in 1954 that the botanist David Fairchild passed away. He was 85 years old.
In terms of accomplishments, Fairchild hit it out of the botanical park. He was single-handedly responsible for the introduction of more than 200,000 plants to the United States, including pistachios, mangoes, dates, nectarines, soybeans, and flowering cherries.
In conducting his work, Fairchild traveled around the globe numerous times.
Without David Fairchild, the Washington Mall would not have the beautiful Japanese flowering cherries. When that first shipment of cherry trees arrived in the United States, it was infested with insects and diseases. It was a blessing in disguise. Japan was so embarrassed by the shipment that they immediately shipped new specimens. And, Japan sent experts to the States to make sure that the trees were taken care of properly.
And, plants like kale seem to be a relatively new phenomenon in gardens across the country. But, it was actually David Fairchild, and not Trader Joe's, who brought kale to the United States. And, David Fairchild brought the avocado here as well.
Looking back over Fairchild's life, it's clear he had a few lucky breaks that helped change the trajectory of his life. For instance, on his first collecting expedition, he met a world traveler and wealthy benefactor named Barbara Latham, who funded many of his adventures. And, in 1905, he married Mary Ann Bell; his father-in-law was none other than Alexander Graham Bell.
Finally, the next time you’re in Florida, stop by the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables, which is filled with many of the plants that were collected by Fairchild, and it's named in his honor.