I read a lot of biographies of women botanists in California and just reread the transcripts of the oral histories from the Bancroft, again. I keep referring back to the archival images of these epic scientists and wondering how. There are these specific details in my head that keep bouncing around – Alice Eastwood’s flower hats, Ella Dales Cantelow’s boots, Annetta Carter’s sweater. I keep circling back to this question of how fashion can structure opportunity in the field and lab. Botany uniforms. I am trying to imagine what being a woman botanist would have been like at different time periods in California. If I can’t understand how, personally, practically, logistically, plants were collected and studied in California in 1913 how can I expect my collections for 2013 to be comparable? I feel like I am leaping over a giant gap on the basic scientific method on how to collect plants, which hasn’t been uniform across time [see any field note book, ever]. Are species concepts the same across time for a given landscape with dramatic historical shifts and changes in protocol?
So to think about this I have been playing around with paper dolls. I am fascinated by Alice Eastwood’s bustle dress. How did Alice Eastwood carry her plant press tied up inside of her bustle? And ride a horse with this ensemble? I am guessing that the plant press was small field size – but specifically what size, before or after the Brandegee standardized herbarium sheet, and made out of what? What is the actual weight of an empty versus a full plant press? How did this work attached inside of a functional hiking and riding dress? And she also hiked ahead of the menfolk to cook dinner, and then stayed behind to clean up? Were her boots made of magical leather – and did she wash her socks every evening? What was her budget for clothes? How did access on foot, and by train, and then car change botany and the experience of women botanists in California? How did new technologies, innovations, and socio-economic expectations impact women botanists, and what are the effects on specimen collections?
The images are taken from the CAS Alice Eastwood archives, CalPhotos or Petersen’s magazine, all badly adobe’d. I want to have a full suite of outfits, with accessories [including plants described by botanists]. I know it is a weird idea but it is how I am starting to think about this. Also WILSON, C. G. 1955. Alice Eastwood’s wonderland; the adventures of a botanist. San Francisco, California Academy of Sciences.
The new issue is online [Madroño 59(4)] and our paper is published! I am looking forward to getting back home to read it and the other articles in the new issue. Thanks to everyone for their patience and support for all the research and writing, I will be sending reprints your way.
WALDEN, G. K., and R. PATTERSON. 2012. Nomenclature of subdivisions in Phacelia (Boraginaceae). Madroño 59(4):211-222.
Abstract link http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.3120/0024-9637-59.4.211
Full text [with subscription] http://www.bioone.org/doi/full/10.3120/0024-9637-59.4.211
Part inspiration from past workshops, and part anticipation for the upcoming year. Share your favorite photos from workshops you have attended with our Jepson Workshop coordinator via email. I think my favorite so far is from the ‘planning’ post. Although I am partial to that Phacelia Friday.
This is a typical scene of botanists starting to scatter across the landscape at a stop from the 2012 White Mountains workshop.
The Times Standard news article includes more information, and is slightly more reassuring about the lack of any listed botanists, population geneticists, agronomists, or plant pathologists in the affiliated faculty and research interests on the institute’s homepage. Humboldt State has a world class herbarium [HSC], and a great botany department, this is a perfect synthesis of facilities for future research opportunities. Difficulties for current access, documentation, permits, regulations – I feel that this is a tremendously positive step toward best practices for scientific research on marijuana. Collecting specimens and growing plants of Cannabis for experimental and systematic studies are going to be incredibly important [voucher specimens are the fundamentals of plant biology], and efforts are needed to a] support field research to document rare populations before they are extirpated, b] study evolutionary relationships using comparative genomics with Humulus, c] understand modern domestication of a plant crop with applied breeding programs, and d] understand gene expression and regulation in chemical synthesis pathways in marijuana. HIIMR should also consider supporting a long term seed bank [okay, achene bank] and clonal germplasm repository for landraces of Cannabis, and possibly partner with Philip Morris to apply results to bring to market a marijuana cigarette.
Also, I am interested in a job when I finish my PhD. I will be in touch.
Been diving into some different projects recently, and today was back with happy Phacelia specimens and nomenclature at CalAcademy. The set up for visiting is pretty nice [pretty nice, come on - it is inside the California Academy of Sciences, of course it is amazing!], with a gorgeous set of windows and big desk and lights and scope and lots of plug ins for gadgets. The inside of the compactors is set to bone chill, so this is a delightful space that doesn’t require full snow gear.
I am going to point out that my dissection kit [pictured below] was originally purchased for botany lab class at UC Davis. Such a useful class purchase. That, a hand lens+lanyard, and the 1993 Jepson Manual. All practical, all used well beyond the original class.
The weirdest thing is that I haven’t yet gone to CalAcademy yet this year as a member. How has that even happened? I wave at Claude in his tank when I check in.
There are always brillig things to see in Golden Gate Park like the sunshine, and the Conservatory of Flowers, and the bison! Trigger stopped next to the ever-blooming Phacelia californica in the California section across from CalAcademy.
Another great Jepson Manual 101 Clinic on Friday before the Potentilla Jepson Workshop this weekend. And again, I learned more than I was anticipating – and really appreciate the enthusiasm of everyone who participated. Staci Markos gave a great introduction to the second edition, the new and improved features of the Jepson Manual, and additional online resources. Mentha pulegium was the example on page 840 to show how the different font and structure for the organization of the book works – and to show that the taxon isn’t in the index. Also, by keying it out in preparation for the clinic I found out that although it smells great, it is TOXIC.
The Clinic was in the Botany Seminar room with these really amazing new microscopes that have been donated to the Jepson Workshops. The dissection kits help with looking at the 4 fertile stamens and 1 staminode in Scrophularia californica, and the scopes were great to look at the shaggy hairs on the leaf axis of Rosa californica. Barbara Ertter stopped by to check in with participants for the workshop, and kindly confirmed the identification of the rose!
We also keyed out Delphinium californicum too. I absolutely did not plan having all the specific epithets be ‘californica’ or ‘californicum’, it really just happened. The Delphinium was in open flower, with some flowers still in bud at the distal end of the inflorescence. From the road looking into the chaparral hillside I thought it was in total bud, and climbed up just to see if it was worth coming back in a month or so. I collected the inflorescence on July 12th [the day before the clinic] and the key in the manual has one character as blooming generally June or earlier, and the other as July or later. Maybe the inflorescence was blooming since June? Other inflorescences in the area were still in bud, but maybe it is a late year on the coast. The key has other characters that work great, and I was really thrilled to learn a new Delphinium species.
We also keyed out Eriogonum latifolium and I learned new terminology about flower stipes! I also brought in a lot of other things and of course there were some phacelias!
I have enjoyed these clinics, which have been held on various Fridays throughout the spring and summer. Check in with the UC & JEPS herbarium [on facebook too] and the Jepson Workshops [email@example.com, (510) 643-7008] for more information.
There was a gorgeous display of wildflowers for the UC & Jepson herbaria at UC Berkeley’s CalDay, and after it was all over I grabbed two of the phacelias to sketch. I think these both came from the Del Puerto Canyon vicinity, collected by Margriet Wetherwax. I had such a good time at CalDay, my first. Thanks!
The first is Phacelia imbricata Greene var. imbricata, which is a common perennial plant of the foothills from 50-2500 m throughout California.
The next is Phacelia distans Bentham, although this plant has the dingy white corolla and heteromorphic calyx lobes that would possibly align with one of Greene’s names [now in synonymy]. My summer research project, yo. There is wide variation documented in this taxon, with white corollas in northern California and blue corollas in southern California, Baja California and Arizona.
The Jepson Manual celebrated the publication of the second edition with a party at the UC and Jepson Herbarium on Saturday – which was fantastic. I had a ton of people sign my copy where they wrote the treatments, or their favorite genus or sponsorship page. There was also a silent auction to support the Botany Library, and I managed to win some super fantastic books! Also – our librarian, Amy Kasameyer, found the perfect description for my new favorite food [besides birthday cake oreos]. Shown below what she coined as ‘potato cupcakes’ from the botany party. I ate nearly an entire platter. No joke.
Michael Eisen wrote a blog post last year noting a super amazing inclusion of the digitized lab notebooks as part of the supplemental materials [Lang and Botstein 2011]. My lab work has somewhat been on pause with classes [IS290 and IB200A] and studying for orals this semester, but come the end of April – I am going to do this with my lab notebooks as I progress through experiments in the Baldwin genomics lab and the MPL.
Along that vein, I will also put up my field notebooks from this year, probably the whole notebook at the end of the season, and additional notes from individual collection events posted as updates inside posts – this one includes the corolla dissections and sketches of ovules. And yes, after upload I realized that penciled drawings don’t scan as well as inked illustrations – so will keep that in mind for the future.
Posting my field notebooks serves as part organization, part transparency, part scholarship, part archival, part communication, part trying to be a better practitioner of science. I also believe that creating a clear link between the collection event and the accessioned specimen may motivate me to decrease the time between collection and accession, which can contribute to the lag time in species descriptions – not that I am collecting anything new [Bebber et al. 2010].
I benefit so much from reading the online digitized field notebooks of Willis Linn Jepson, Reid Moran and others [the Smithsonian has an entire Field Book Project - AMAZING, go look at it], and visiting archives to read field notebooks of the Cantelows and John Thomas Howell at California Academy of Sciences. Other archives I really would like to visit are those of Marcus E. Jones, because Parry stole my rose [Dorst 2010; Jones 1930].
The field season is slower this year due to drought and next year will be my big field year, but there are still opportunities to describe some of the field diversity in a group like the [mostly Californian] Ramosissimae, which includes Phacelia distans and Phacelia malvifolia. I have been really inspired by the amazing scientific illustrations that John Myers has been doing for the FNANM treatment, and Dr. Strother also encouraged me [in the words of Terry Allen] to practice drawing. I limned the basics from the Phacelia californica that I collected for the Jepson Manual 101 clinic, and pressed the voucher in my Herbarium Supply plant press. I am always interested in best practices for collecting specimens and making vouchers [see one of M.E.Jones writings on collecting here], and not just because it is part of the IS290 class project for the UC Berkeley Botanic Garden!
BEBBER, D. P., M. A. CARINE, J. R. I. WOOD, A. H. WORTLEY, D. J. HARRIS, G. T. PRANCE, G. DAVIDSE, J. PAIGE, T. D. PENNINGTON, N. K. B. ROBSON, and R. W. SCOTLAND. 2010. Herbaria are a major frontier for species discovery. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 107(51):22169-22171.
DORST, D. 2010. The surf guru: stories. New York, Riverhead Books.
JONES, M. E. 1930. Botanical reminiscences. Contributions to Western Botany 17:1-31.
LANG, G. I., and D. BOTSTEIN. 2011. A Test of the Coordinated Expression Hypothesis for the Origin and Maintenance of the GAL Cluster in Yeast. PLoS ONE 6(9):e25290.
Deb Trock wrote up a really nice piece in the current Flora of North America (FNANM) newsletter featuring student authors and their treatments – and Rebecca Stubbs and I are in the latest issue on the website [July-December 2011]. Rebecca works on Polemonium, and has a great website describing her research at SFSU with Dr. Patterson.
We tried to take some photos for Dr. Trock to use, but we were laughing pretty hard. Brennan Wenck-Riley [grad student of Dennis Desjardin] snapped a semi-serious pose with Laura Garrison’s Phacelia specimens in the Harry D. Thiers herbarium, photo is courtesy of his patient efforts. Left to right in the photo are Trigger the service dog, me, Dr. Robert Patterson, and Rebecca Stubbs.