#OTD Botanist Alphonse Pyramus ("Peer-ah-mus") de Candolle (“Cundull”) died on this day at the ripe age of 87 in Geneva in 1893 (28 October 1806 – 4 April 1893). Born the year Linneas died, he was the son of the Swiss botanist Augustin Pyramus de Candolle. His father's monumentous work, Prodromus, was an effort to characterize all of the plant families and establishing the basis for the science of botany. Alphonse and future generations of the Candolle family would finish Prodromus through extensive and detailed research. In 1855, Alphonse was awarded Linnean gold medal. The Candolle family are honored in the plant genera Candollea and Candolleodendron. The scientific journal, Candollea, is also named after the family.
Candolle's ground-breaking book, Origin for Cultivated Plants begins,
"It is a common saying, that the plants with which man has most to do, and which rendered him the greatest service, are those which botanists know the least.”
Candolle set about correcting that gap in understanding which had persisted for 50 years. In 1885, The Glasgow Herald reminded readers,
"At the commencement of the present century but little was known respecting the origin of our cultivated plants, and even up till the middle of the present not much progress had teen made in determining the original condition and habitat of the different species, Alexander von Humboldt in 1807 said :
'The origin, the first home of the plants most useful to man, and which have accompanied him from the remotest epochs, is a secret as impenetrable as the dwelling of all our domestic animals. We do not know what region produced spontaneously wheat, barley, oats, and rye. The plants which constitute the natural riches of all the inhabitants of the tropics the banana, the papaw, the manioc, and maize have never been found in a wild state. The potato presents the same phenomenon.'"
“They always cut them length-ways and preserved them dried as a provision for the winter."
“Instead of an interesting and readable book he has given us a painfully formal catalogue, about as enticing as a stock and share list or the prices current at the Queen Victoria-street stores.”
"no one […] could have worked […] with more zeal and sagacity”.
"De Candolle's great work closed one epoch in the history of the subject and [Sir Joseph] Hooker's name is the first that appears in the ensuing one."
"Among the truly 'wild' ; flowers, two that ask of man only to be let alone in their native fastnesses, are the mayflower, or trailing arbutus, and the , twinberry, or partridge berry, the last-named a member of the madder family, and a distant relative of the coffee tree. The mayflower is wildest and shyest of all. No more is the eagle at home in the farmyard or the cardinal in the cage that the mayflower In the garden. As the imprisoned cardinal pines away and dies when the gilded bars of a bird-cage separate it from its liberty, so ' the mayflower sickens and withers away in the garden.”
Today's book recommendation
Today's Garden Chore
Write yourself a gentle reminder like, “Do this or else!” or “If you don’t get these, you’ll have garden-envy again next Spring”
to revive the little botanic spark in your heart
"For a few minutes this morning I fumbled around my Wild Flower garden... Little points which will soon be Bloodroots. Cautious little down covered stems and buds that will later become Hepaticas. Narrow leaves the forerunners of spring beauty."
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"For a happy, healthy life, garden every day."
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