October 3, 2019 Pumpkin Allergy, Luis Née, Frederick Lueders, Frederick Pursch, David Hosack, John Torrey, Charles Sprague Sargent, Meta Orred, Sergei Yesenin, Philippa Foot, Montrose by Nancy Goodwin, Christmas Cactus, and George Dexter Butler

I always write down little things the kids say that strike me as funny or sweet.

Here's a little blast from my past on this day in 2010:

At bedtime tonight, PJ told me he wanted to bring cold lunch to school. I told him no because we have paid for hot lunch. (Apparently many kids in his class bring cold lunch.) I told him that they probably bring cold lunch because they have allergies and their mommies don't want them to get sick.

So, then PJ told me he had allergies too... he said "I'm allergic to pumpkins".

I said "really."

He said yes.

I said "Well then you won't have fun on Halloween because there are pumpkins all over that night".

LONG PAUSE while his jaw drops. Heavy sigh.

"You caught me mom. I was just trying to trick you."

Pumpkin allergies... at the time, I thought that was a made-up thing.

While this story is super sweet, some folks are allergic to pumpkin. Typically, they are allergic to the seeds.

That said, other parts of the pumpkin can negatively affect the body. People with allergies who touch the pulp or the seeds can get dermatitis or even hives.

If they smell pumpkin cooking, sensitive people can have an allergic response from the vapors.

And, kids with pumpkin allergy can feel sick just from carving a pumpkin. Uninformed parents can easily dismiss coughing and wheezing during pumpkin carving time as signs of a cold.

Thanks to Starbucks and other retailers, our society goes a little crazy for all things Pumpkin Spice this time of year - the Pumpkin Spice Latte has a little pumpkin puree in it. But just know, there is such a thing as pumpkin allergy and be sensitive to folks have it.





#OTD Today is the anniversary of the death of the botanist Luis Nee who died on this day in 1807.

Luis Née was a Frenchman living in Spain. He worked at the Madrid botanic garden, and he botanized in the mountain ranges of Spain.

Nee went on an expedition to South America in 1789. When he collected in Chile, he discovered the Lapageria rosea, which is now the national flower of Chile. Lapageria rosea plants, are also known as Chilean bellflowers. They are named after the Empress Josephine Lapagerie, wife of Napoleon Bonaparte.





#OTD Today is the birthday of the German botanist, Frederick Lueders, who was born on this day in 1813.

On November 13, 1843, Lueders was botanizing along the Columbia River in Oregon. He'd been collecting specimens for three years. He had just encountered the explorer John Freemont, when all of his work, which was secured in a canoe nearby, was drawn into the rapids. Lueders plunged into the river and managed to retrieve only a copy of the Flora by Torrey and Gray.

The devastating loss was recorded in Freemont's journal who wrote:

"In the natural concern I felt for his misfortune, I gave to the little cove the name of Lueders' Bay."

For Lueders' part, the loss of his specimens was devastating. However, the loss of his instruments and his correspondence with Asa Gray and Dr. Englemann was almost too great. Lueders determined his best course of action was to return home. He traveled south around the tip of Chile and then onto England. It took him a year to return to Hamburg a year after his mishap on the Columbia.

Lueders didn't stay in Germany long. He returned to America within the next year. By 1851, he had made his way to Wisconsin; he spent the rest of his life in Sauk City, and he dabbled in astronomy. A biographical sketch said that in his old age, Lueders was devoted largely to his flowers.





#OTD On this day in 1807, the botanist Frederick Pursch visited David Hosack.

Hosack was happy to have Pursch collect specimens from all around the United States for him. He wrote,

"I shall have a very industrious and skillful botanist [begin] to collect from different parts of the Union."





#OTD On this day in 1856, John Torrey's Office at the Mint was described in the NY Daily Times.

When Torrey was 57, he decided to leave Princeton after 24 years of teaching botany, and he went to work for the Mint; it would be the last step in his long career.

The description of the room where the bullion was measured is quite fascinating. It said:

"During the process of ... gold and silver are... weighed on ... scales. Floors are covered with iron gratings which are removed at stated periods, flooring beneath carefully swept and particles of precious metal separated from the dust."

Torrey 's quality of life improved while he worked at the Mint; he could leave work by 3 pm and be home in time to work in his herbarium a couple of hours before dinner.





#OTD On this day in 1883, Charles Sprague Sargent wrote to Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker with an update on the Arnold Arboretum:

“The Arboretum is getting on at last. ..Roads, belts, grades, etc. are making grand progress & I really begin to see daylight ahead. We have in the nurseries an immense stock of plants &certainly the largest number of living species ever collected together on this side of the ocean.”






Unearthed Words

From the Poetical Birthday Book for October 3rd, from 1887:

Her lips like foxgloves, pink and pale,
Went sighing like an autumn gale;
Yet, When the sunlight passed by,
They opened out with half a sigh.
Her smile, the last faint vesper light
As swoons the eve to sleep away,
Remaining through the summer night
A lamp of love by which to pray.

~ Meta Orred, English Author & Poet


All will pass like smoke of white apple trees
Seized by the gold of autumn.
I will no longer be young.

~ Sergei Yesenin, Russian lyric poet, born on this day in 1895


In moral philosophy, it is useful, I believe, to think about plants.

~ Philippa Foot, philosopher, born (1920) and died (2010) on this day.




Today's book recommendation: Montrose by Nancy Goodwin

This book was the obvious selection for today because it was published on this day back in 2005.

It's one of my personal favorites. Montrose is Goodwin's personal biography of her garden, and I love everything about it. I love the illustrations, beautiful line drawings with pastel coloring. Gorgeous.

I love that Goodwin organizes her book by month. I thought I'd read you an excerpt from her chapter on October...

You can get used copies using the Amazon link in today's Show Notes for just $4.




Today's Garden Chore

It's time to stop watering your Christmas Cactus.

Put your cactus through a mandatory dry spell for the next 30 days for a better bud set. So, don't water it until the first week of November.

Here are a few other tips to help you with your Christmas Cactus:

  1. They will blossom longer if they are exposed to only cooler temperatures. For best results, keep your Christmas cactus in a cool place - not by the fireplace and not by a drafty door.
  2. They like to be on a sunny windowsill.
  3. They need to sleep. Like poinsettia, they benefit from 14 hours of darkness each night.
  4. They don't like to be watered very often - but they do like a little mist every day. Ok then.



Something Sweet
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart

#OTD Today is the anniversary of the death of George Dexter Butler, who died on this day in 1910.

Butler was born in 1850 in Grundy County, Illinois. He grew up in Iowa. Like many, he ended up going to West California.

In 1896, he was admitted to the bar in California, and then he began the practice of law. And, then, here's the part from the Madrono Vol. 1, No. 13 from November 1928, that got my attention:

"George Butler's passion for botany had always been such that he did not dare trust it. Therefore, on coming to California he determined to let the science of botany entirely alone. If he gave himself to it at all he feared that his proper profession as a lawyer would be largely or too much neglected and that his first obligation, the support, and education of his family, would suffer.

[When his old friend, Dr. Engelmann wrote to him] he was much puzzled in mind as to what he should do... The letter, therefore, he deliberately ignored.

In 1906 he chanced to be in a bookshop in Oakland where his eye caught sight of a second-hand copy of Jepson's Flora."


The time for botany had come. He quickly made up for the lost time, and he went collecting in every direction. He built a herbarium on his property, he started buying floras, and he worked like crazy on building his collections. What he was hoping to do was to build a county herbarium.

But, sadly, on this day in 1910, Butler had a stroke and passed away.

After Butler died, his herbarium was given as a gift to the University of California. At the time, it was regarded as the most complete Flora of Siskiyou County.



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