I’m spending this week in the Pacific Northwest and the plant life looks very peculiar to a long-time Texan. Some of the odd shapes and colors remind me a bit of the illustrations in the Dr. Seuss books we used to read to our kids. What the heck, for example, is this?
It brings to mind one of my favorite images from Julian Huxley’s papers. This is Dutch botany professor Hugo de Vries of the University of Amsterdam, one of the most important figures in the modern study of genetics:
De Vries came to Texas, of course, to speak at the formal opening of the new Rice Institute. (His talk, entitled “Mutations in Heredity,” is here, in the first volume of the Rice Institute Pamphlet.) At some point in this long trip he and Huxley traveled around the state inspecting the native flora. This picture was taken in San Antonio in October, 1912, the same month as the opening. Huxley’s note on the back reveals a bit of puzzlement: they’re not sure what that thing is, but they want to call it a cylindrical arborescent opuntia. And who am I to say it’s not?