Oakes and Orchids
Today is the birthday of the botanist Oakes Ames who was born on this day in 1874.
What a great name for a botanist, huh?
Ames was trained as an economic botanist, but his specialty was orchids. He had his own orchid collection as a kid, and you know what they say about orchid lovers; once you're hooked, you're hooked. The author, Norman MacDonald, wrote in his 1939 book The Orchid Hunters:
"For when a man falls in love with orchids, he'll do anything to possess the one he wants. It's like chasing a green-eyed woman [being consumed by desire] or taking cocaine. A sort of madness..."
Ames was a Harvard man; he spent his entire career there. His work on the Orchidaceae was foundational to the study of orchids. His effort culminated in a seven-volume work on the Orchid Family.
For his dedication, in 1924, Ames won the gold medal of the American Orchid Society.
Today, Ames is recognized for his most significant contribution to the world of orchids, the Ames Orchid Herbarium (now part of the Harvard Herbaria) featuring 3,000 flowers in glycerine, 4,000 specimens that are pickled, along with 131,000 standard specimens, in addition to a magnificent library.