Carl Purpus, Plant Collector in Western America C. A. Purpus and His Introductions (Continued)  

Carl A. Purpus

Translation by Barbara Ertter  

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Original Title:
C. A. Purpus und seine Einfuhrungen.
Moller's Deutsche Gartner-Zeitung. 11(10): 109-112.
      "Now follows a bit on the alpines and subalpine perennials and annuals:

Other Articles: Collecting in the Sierra Nevada: 0080 On the Trail…: 0190  

"In the rubble of Mt. Whitney at 3400 m, I found the sublimely beautiful Mentzelia laevicaulis Torr. & Gray with large golden yellow flowers. The individual petals were nearly 10 cm long. I was amazed at the spectacular sight. In granitic gravel and sand below the volcano, I encountered a low mat-forming Allionia unknown to me, which was completely covered with large rose-red flowers, providing a lovely sight beyond all description. A charming primrose, Primula suffrutescens Torr.,grew among granite boulders, often in great abundance, making an enchanting picutre with its purple to rose-red or snow-white flowers. Another showy alpine accurring at 4500 m is the mat-forming Epilobium obcordatum Gray, covered with large dark rose-red flowers. In showiness it competed with Primula suffrutescens. Also enchantingly beautiful and growing in the same region was a low, mat-forming, somewhat woody Penstemon, without doubt a new species, with large, violet, bell-shaped flowers on a flowering stalk some 5-8 cm tall.
      "Somewhat lower down I found a splendid suffruticose Gilia loaded with white or occasionally rose-tinged flowers yellow-ringed within: Gilia nuttallii Gray. Polemonium confertum from Mt. Whitney is somewhat different from that collected in Colorado. The flowers are light to reddish violet and smell wonderfully like hyacinth. Uniquely interesting were the various alpine Ivesia, such as I. santolinoides Gray with its Santolina-like leaves and flowers resembling a Gypsophila, and I. gordonii Torr. & Gray, including the variety pygmaea. The marvelous mat-forming lupines, often snow-white with nearly sessile blue flowers, and the large cushion-building Eriogonum, too numerous to describe, were marvelous.
      "Between 4000 and 4500 fett I found the magnificent Hulsea algida Gray, a Compositae with large yellow flowers resembling Adonis vernalis, the dainty Erigeron compositus Pursh var. trifidus and other mat-forming Erigeron, as well as Erysimum asperu DC. var. alpinum with its deep yellow flowers. Between 3500 and 4000 m I encountered a splendid low-growing acaulescent Oenothera unknown to me. The large, short-stalked, sweet-smelling yellow flowers open in the afternoon, bloom until the following noon, and then always make way for others. In addition, I found there the beautiful Aster andersonii Gray, Raillardella pringlei Gray, the splendid Dodecatheonk meadis Gray var. jeffreyi and var. alpina. At 3000-3500 m I saw Phacelia hydrophylloides Torr., Nama rothrockii Gray, the splendid Helenium bigelowii Gray with large golden yellow long-stalked flowers, the charming Dicentra pauciflora S. Wats. growing in rock crevices, and several others.
      "Not to be forgotten were the tremendously beautiful Penstemon growing from 2500 to 2700 m, including Penstemon sp. Nr. 1377, a somewhat woody perennial to 1 1/4 m tall with large light blue violet-striped flowers; Penstemon sp. Nr. 1376, 60-90 cm tall with large deep blue bell-shaped flowers; and finally Penstemon sp. Nr. 1378, an attractive species to 30 cm tall with blue-gray leaves and dark blue flowers.
      "At 2500-2700 m I was surprised to find, along with a lovely Sedum, a splendid Echeveria with white-powdered leaves and golden red flowers. It is without winter-hardy in Germany and may be as highly valuable introduction. I was practically carried away by the sight of the mat-forming Mimulus occurring from 3400 to 3700 m and higher. They cover large surfaces in many spots with their mats, creating the appearance of a yellow, rose red, or purple red carpet. I cannot find the words to convey the impression that these floral tapestries left on me.
      "Prominent among the annuals was a Gilia, not further identified, with wonderfully beautiful deep cornflower blue flowers in loose heads. This plant earns a valuable place in cultivation, not only for the magnificent color but also the long-lasting quality of its flowers. Other marvelous annuals were Meconopis heterophylla Benth. with orange yellow flowers flecked with violet, the charming Lobeliaceae Nemacladus ramosissimus Nutt. with rose red dark-speckled flowers, Godetia williamsonii S. Wats. with red and purple spotted flowers, Gilia dichotoma with silky white flowers, G. cardinalis with cardinal red flowers, then Salvia carduacea Benth., Lessingia ramulosa, a violet-flowered Compositae, the lovely Leptosyne stillmanii Gray with large yellow flowers, and other species identified and unidentified.
      "It is not possible here to enumerate and describe all the beautiful alpine and subalpine perennials, annuals, bulbs, and woody plants, as should be done more completely at another opportunity.

Other Articles: On the Trail…: 0210  

"A lit bit of excitement, often of a rather dangerous nature, is unavoidable on such journeys. The flats and the dry foothills of the Sierra teem with rattlesnakes. A person must always take care to avoid disturbing one of these dangers from where it lurks, fully aware of its deadly weapon. In the mountains, in addition to the harmless black bear there is the dangerous grizzly. Coming upon one unexpectedly is to be considered a distinct adventure. One day as I climbed a slopes, I suddenly saw directly above me a large cinnamon bear coming from one side. As I had no weapon with me, I was naturally at first sight startled. I tried to scare the animal away, but without success. The bear held its ground with dreadfully rolling eyes and finally came at me. I was foolish enough to jump at him, whereupon the beast stopped, snarling but not retreating from the spot. By now I had become uncomfortable with the situation, so I moved slowly backwards, keeping an eye on my furious companion. The animal appeared to pay no further attention to me, and I quietly resumed collecting. Although I still feared an attack at any moment, the beast did not bother me again."
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Date and time this article was prepared: 6/7/2002 7:32:07 PM