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No. 98 April 7, 1995
aceska at freenet.victoria.bc.ca Victoria, B.C.
Dr. A. Ceska, P.O.Box 8546, Victoria, B.C. Canada V8W 3S2
BILL VAN DIEREN (1930 - 1995)
Bill van Dieren lost his short fight with lung cancer on March
26, 1995. He was born in Holland in 1930, worked shortly in New
Zealand, and in 1956 he emigrated to Canada. He lived in Van-
couver till 1980, when he moved to Port Alberni. With his en-
gineering background he worked in the oil industry, designed
water supply systems, and in Port Alberni worked on technologi-
cal changes of the MacMillan-Bloedel paper mill.
Bill was an exemplary amateur botanist. He was a keen observer
and was incredibly meticulous in everything he did. After moving
to Port Alberni he started a long-term study of the flora and
vegetation of the Somass River estuary and wrote a detailed
report (1982) on this for the Athabasca University. His study
served as a base for the ecological reserve proposal. In 1984
Port Alberni Museum mounted a large exhibition on the Somass
River Delta based on Bill's collection and photographs. Bill
supported all records by herbarium voucher specimens. He donated
to the Royal British Columbia Museum close to 2,000 specimens
and a collection of about 5,000 photographic slides. He actively
promoted conservation issues within his community and natural
history clubs and shared his botanical knowledge with both
laypeople and professional botanists.
The profile of Bill van Dieren would not be complete without
mentioning his work among the First Nation's people of the west
coast of Vancouver Island. He organized book drives and estab-
lished libraries in villages in Ucluelet, Ahousat, Hesquiat, and
Kyuquot and worked as a lay missionary. The pinnacle of his work
within First Nation's communities was a thorough geneological
research on several west coast families.
He will be missed by his wife Dorothy, who was his partner in
botanical trips and in his work within the First Nation's, by
his two children, three grandchildren, and by many other people
who were honoured to be his friends. -- Adolf Ceska
WASHINGTON STATE NATURAL HERITAGE PROGRAM THREATENED
Funding for the Washington Natural Heritage Program has been
eliminated from the Washington state budget. Senate amendment to
the budget stated that the Program should be supported from the
Department of Natural Resources budget, but at this time it is
not clear if the Natural Heritage Program will indeed get the
amount it needs to perform its function. Since the Nature Con-
servancy funding of the Program is done on a matching basis, the
funds the Program gets from the Nature Conservancy may be cut
back as well.
NEW PUBLICATION: BROMUS L. OF NORTH AMERICA
Pavlick, Leon E. 1995. Bromus L. of North America. Royal British
Columbia Museum, Victoria. 160 p. ISBN 0-7718-9417-1 [soft
cover] Cost: CDN$19.95
"This taxonomic work is the first comprehensive treatment of
North American bromegrasses since 1900. Leon E. Pavlick presents
his extensive research of the genus Bromus occurring in Canada
and the United States in a comprehensive and accessible format.
This book contains keys to species, descriptions with habitat
information and distribution maps, synonyms, glossary,
references and index. Of the 51 species described, 30 are newly
illustrated [by Elizabeth J. Stephen and Peggy Frank].
NEW PUBLICATION: SUNFLOWER FAMILY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA - VOL. 2
Douglas, George W. 1995. The sunflower family (Asteraceae) of
British Columbia: Volume II - Astereae, Anthemideae,
Eupatorieae and Inuleae. Royal British Columbia Museum,
Victoria. 393 p. ISBN 0-07726-2161-6 [soft cover] Cost:
This is volume 2 of a three-volume work by George W. Douglas. It
includes keys to tribes and genera, species descriptions, dis-
tribution maps, illustrations [by Elizabeth J. Stephen],
synonymies, a glossary, a bibliography and an index.
HOW TO ORDER PUBLICATIONS OF THE ROYAL BRITISH COLUMBIA MUSEUM
You can order Bromus, Asteraceae Vol. 2, and other Museum publi-
cations in the following outlets:
Individuals order from The Royal Museum Shop at 675 Belleville
Street, Victoria, BC, V8V 1X4, Phone: (604) 356-0505, Fax: (604)
356-8197. Major credit cards, purchase orders, personal cheques,
money orders accepted.
Resale outlets and institutions order from CROWN Publications,
Inc., 521 Fort Street, Victoria, B.C. V8W 1E7, Phone: (604) 386-
4636, Fax: (604) 386-0221. Major credit cards, purchase orders,
personal cheques, money orders accepted.
THE SORROWS OF OLD GOETHE
From: R.T. Ogilvie <bogilvie at RBML01.RBCM.BC.CA>
The article in BEN 97 on Goethe's anti-sex views in plants is a
reaction in his old age to his youthful enthusiasm for the
Linnaean sexual system of plant classification. Linnaeus used
the number of stamens for defining Classes, and the number of
carpels for defining Natural Orders (approximately equivalent to
our present-day Families).
Linnaeus' classification system for higher categories was more
precisely a numerical system rather than a sexual system. Each
Class and Order was given a Latin name, a brief Latin descrip-
tive phrase, a short Latin "anthropocentric" phrase, and in some
editions after 1759 the English equivalent for these names and
phrases. Some examples, which may give an idea of what Goethe
was reacting to:
Class Pentandria (Five Males) - five stamens in a hermaphrodite
(bisexual) flower (five husbands in the same marriage).
Class Didynamia (Two Powers) - four stamens, two long and two
short (four husbands, two tall and two short).
Class Monoecia (One House) - male and female flowers on the same
plant (husbands live with their wives in the same house
but have different beds).
Class Dioecia (Two Houses) - male and female flowers on dif-
ferent plants; (husbands and wives have different houses).
Class Polygamia - bisexual flowers, male, or female flowers in
the same species (husbands live with wives and
Class Cryptogamia (Clandestine Marriages) - flowers are con-
cealed (nuptials are celebrated privately).
Order Polygamia Aequalis (Equal Polygamy) - many florets with
stamens and pistils (many marriages with promiscuous
Order Polygamia Spuria Segregata (Spurious Separate Polygamy) -
many flower- bearing involucres contained in one common
involucre (many beds united so that they constitute one
Linnaeus first published his system in 1735, and republished it
many times with minor changes in the next thirty years. Lin-
naeus' system was widely adopted throughout Europe as a con-
venient means of identifying plants. France was an exception,
where many French botanists such as Gerard, Adanson, and the de
Jussieus rejected the Linnaeus system because of its ar-
tificiality. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a serious amateur botanist,
saw the value of Linnaeus' system for teaching and used it for
his very popular book on plant identification "Essais Elemen-
taires sur la Botanique" (1771). Goethe was a generation younger
than Linnaeus and Rousseau, but like Rousseau he was both an
ardent student of the enlightenment and a serious amateur
botanist. It was during the very last years of his life (1820)
that Goethe wrote his remarks criticising the sexual system of
TROUBLE IN TRUFFLELAND
From: "Made-in-China Variety Galls French Gourmets" by William
Drozdiak, Washington Post Foreign Service. Publication
date: 2/18/95 [abbrev.]
PARIS, Feb. 17 -- Ever since classical times, gourmets have
extolled the fragrant virtues of the truffle. The fabled fungus,
known as the "black diamond" because of its rarity and value, is
especially revered in France, where culture is defined by the
taste bud as much as by the eye or the mind.
But as truffle fans are discovering to their chagrin, there is
nothing sacred in the modern global marketplace. While Americans
complain of China's piracy in the electronics trade, the French,
among others, are crying foul because an invasion of Chinese
truffles has enabled unscrupulous dealers to perpetrate fraud in
the guise of one of their greatest culinary delights.
The Asian intruder bears an almost perfect resemblance to the
Tuber melanosporum found in the French woodlands of Dordogne and
Provence. Any superficial disparities can only be detected when
the spores of the truffle -- which can range in size from a pea
to an orange -- are examined under a microscope.
But taste is another matter. Unlike the rich pungency of the
French version, the Chinese truffle, or Tuber himalayensis, has
little appreciable flavor when fresh and can even turn un-
pleasant after a few days. "If it is not consumed quickly, it
becomes nasty and sulfurous," said Louis Riousset, a mycologist,
who is regarded as one of France's most renowned truffle con-
By dousing the Chinese fungus with some truffle-scented oil or
bunching them in a box that includes a few fragrant chunks of
the French species, dishonest dealers have been able to get away
with incalculable fraud, especially when the truffles are marked
up for re-export to such lucrative markets as the United States.
Indeed, the potential for profits is considerable. While French
truffles sell for about $270 a pound, the Chinese cousin goes
for almost $50 a pound.
The vanishing quantities of the French variety have only en-
hanced the value of the truffle trade. French output has dropped
from 800 tons a year at the end of the last century to less than
20 tons today. "The harvest of the whole country can now be put
into one truck," said Pierre-Jean Pebeyre, heir to one of
France's greatest truffle dynasties.
Meanwhile, the Chinese have rapidly filled the void. The French
federation of truffle producers estimates that since the Asian
fungus began appearing two years ago, several hundred tons of
truffles have been flown in from the provinces of Shandong and
Szechuan. This year, Chinese truffles have become a veritable
plague on the market.
Truffle fraud is difficult to detect. "Since the Chinese and
French truffles have the same look and feel to them, the only
way to know the difference is to have a trained palate taste and
identify them," Rostang said. His own fool-proof method is to
sample the truffle on a piece of toast with salt and olive oil;
an even better way to bring out the pure flavor of truffles is
to mix them in scrambled eggs.
"We have nothing against the Chinese farmers who want to cul-
tivate their truffles, but they should be sold under their own
name and not confused with ours," said Riousset, who has earned
his living digging up and studying truffles in southern France
for more than 30 years. "I know that money breeds all sorts of
scams," he said. "But this is a moral crisis and not just busi-
ness, because it involves a unique part of our culture that is
rooted in our own earth. We cannot allow it to be destroyed."
[Cf. also BEN # 92]