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Orrington, MAINE USA

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Princeton, MAINE USA

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Botanist Gene

Is there a plant scientist among the limbs of your family tree? What kinds of fruit do botanists bear?


Tweedy’s Willow (Salix tweedyi): Thanks, Uncle Frank!

Image: State of Washington

Is there a gene for botanical talent? John Bartram seems to have passed it on to son William. There were the famous Hookers, father William and son Joseph, who both directed the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. And the Millers: Philip of the Chelsea Physic Garden and his son Charles, who became first Curator of the Cambridge Botanic Garden (1762).

On the eve the Tweedy family reunion out in Knickerbocker, Texas, this weekend, we are elated to have found a botanist-ancestor to call our own: Frank Tweedy (1854-1937). He worked for the U.S. Geological Survey in the late 19th century, exploring and collecting mainly around Yellowstone National Park, and several species from Washington State and the Rockies bear proof.

Cisanthe tweedyi (formerly known as Lewisia tweedyi) is all anyone could want for bragging rights. This beauty, native to Washington’s Cascades, is “valued by many experts as the world’s premier rock garden plant.” (Sounds like something alpine gardeners could debate long into the night.) Marc Dilley writes:

“It was named after Frank Tweedy, a U.S. Geological Survey botanical collector who made the first ascent of Mt. Stuart on August 5, 1883. Much of L. tweedyi’s renown is due to its extravagant bloom.”

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Posted by Julie on 06/30 at 05:13 PM
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