Carl Purpus, Plant Collector in Western America Letters of Carl A. Purpus -- 1903

Transcribed by Barbara Ertter

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  Full Size Image Whetstone Mountains, Arizona.

Locations: Benson. Chiricahua Mountains. Dragoon Mountains. Peloncillo Mountains. Whetstone Mountains. Denning. El Paso.  

Carl A. Purpus to Katharine Brandegee, 1/8/1903

[1903 Jan 08: 30] Denning New. Mexico

8/1 1903

Dear Mrs. Brandegee!

I received Your kind letter today as we arrived in Denning. I was very glad to hear from Youa nd also from Mr. Brandegee, as I was already guessing You might be sick. I am so glad, that such is not the case. Yes Your intentions are always the very best, but not answering letters of Your best friends is one of Your weak points. Of course I know, You have much of work to do and I do not blame You for not answering my letters regularly. I have send You more Cacti from Benson, of course it was nothing new I expect, but I have found some things of interest near Benson. In the Whetstone Mts. close to Benson we have found an ARbutus of great beauty; beautyful Agaves Yuccas and a Nolina. It is a pity, that it is not spring, but spring will come and we make a fine collection. That Arbutus I expect is not new, I know, that Lemmon has been around there and he surely has found it.

Going through the Dragoon Mts. east of Benson I found a Gossypium growing in rocks only two specimens. One was covered with capsules with very little Cotton in it. That Gossypium is a small small shrub about 4-5 feet hight, the leaves--it had very few--were deeply three lobed. Is it known or not? From Benson we crossed the Mts. and got into a big valley on the foot of the Chiricahua Mts. Went over a pass into another valley and up another Mountain range--Peloncillo Mts--on the line of New-Mexico and Arizona, close to the pass I found a beautyful Opuntia (Cylindr) low and creeping with enourmous spines like those of Cereus Brandegeei.

We camped on a ranch and the next day I made a tour into the Peloncillo Mts. I found there a beautyful Cereus (Echinoc.). I resembles C. phoeniceus, frows in small clumps. The spines are beautyful dark purple brown somewhat ashy. I neglected to send You these Cacti, because I could not get a box to put them in, but will send the Cereus from El Paso. The Opuntia from Europe as I have nonewith me.

We leave here tomorrow for El Paso and go down to Chihuahua. Mons. De Lact? wont me to go as far as Vera Cruz, but I don't know if I will or not.

I was surprised, that Mr. Brandegee is back and that Your niece is going to be married. I congratulate. I send my best regards to Mr. Brandegee and Miss Ora. Very Sincerely Yours

C. A. Purpus

Please write to El Paso and send me a Cot? if possible.


Locations: Benson. Denning. El Paso.  

Carl A. Purpus to Katharine Brandegee, 1/15/1903

[1903 Jan 15: 32] El Paso Texas 15th Jan. 1903

Dear Mrs. Brandegee!

I have arrived in El Paso day before yesterday after a very interesting but long journey from Denning. The weather was horrid and it snowed and rained for two days. Today it is a little better and so I went in to the hills.

I was surprised to find so many nice Cacti so close to town. The first Cactus I met was E. horizonthalonius, the next a Cereus which might be C. dasyacanthus. I have found about 6 different Cerei (Echino.) One I think is C. dasyacanthus Var. or. C. pectinatus rigidissiumus Var. I resembles the one I found near Benson but the spines are straight and it grows in clumps or single. I also found C. chloranthum at least I think it is that one. It has white and red spines (setiform). I also found a hybrid I think of C. dasyacanthus and chloranthus.

Diffferent Opuntias and one Mamillaria so far. It grows in clumps has long Mamillae and spines I expect it is M. macromeris.

I have found a fine chance to go to Mexico City, and leave on the 17th of Jan.

Th ticket cost only 30$. I can stop on different places and can stay 4 weeks. A better chance could not be found.

I think the same Cereus I found--or one very near it--in the Plancillo Mts. grows here to. I hardly think it could be C. polyacanthus. They have Carneval here now and I expect this is the reason for the cheap tickets to Mexico.

I hope to hear soon from You, but Your letter will not reach? me here any more.

My best regards to Mr. Brandegee and Miss Ora.

Very sincerely Yours

C. A. Purpus

N.b. Our friend Mr. Charles Darrah? says, tthat Cereus Pringlei near San Jose' is not that one but a form. C. Pringlei does nsot grow there at all, but in Sonora. I wrote and told him he was mistaken. What do You say about it?


Locations: Amecamesca. Popocatepetle.  

Carl A. Purpus to Katharine Brandegee, 1/23/1903

[1903 Jan 23: 31 (postcard mailed from Mexico DF)]

Amecamesca on the foot of Popocatepetle.

Dear Mrs. Brandegee!

I am here in Amecamexa as You see. Today we are going in to camp and ascend the vulcano tomorrow. The flora is grand although it is not the right seasonI make a fine collection. I were has seen more beautyful Salvias I as I saw here on his mountain. I write You when we come back. We stay about 8 days.

Very sincerely Yours

C. A. Purpus

best regards to Mr. Brandegee and Ora


Locations: Leuchtenbergia. Pena. Peria. Saltillo. Torreon. Viesca. Zacatecas.  

Carl A. Purpus to Katharine Brandegee, 3/12/1903

[1903 Mar 12: 33] Torreon' Coahuila Mex

12/III 1903

Dear Mr. Brandegee.

I am in Torreon again as You see, but expect to get away tomorro morning. I stop at Zacatecas for a day or two. Last thursday I went from here to Viesca to find Leuchtenbergia, but failed to find it. I also looked for it near Peria on the road to Saltillo. I found beautyful Cactus near Viesca and Pena, I also made a nice collection of plants, which are new to me. I found a fine Anthyrium or Linaria or closely related to those in crevices of rocks and other plants of great interest. I expect Mr. Pringle has left some things for yet to do.

About the Cacti I write to Mrs. Brandegee from Zacatecas.

I am very anxious to know the exact place where Leuchtenbergia grows, and expect Mrs. Brandegee may find it our for me.

Will You please ask her and tell me? I am afraid she will not answer me at all, so I resort to You.

I sent for boxes of Cacti yesterday and let two more follow today. My address will be Amecameca Mexico Mex.

Very sincerely Yours

C. A. Purpus

  Full Size Image Whetstone Mountains, Arizona.

Locations: Benson. Whetstone Mountains. De Toluca. Ixtacihuatl. Ixuciguilpan. Pachuca. Pauhuca. Tanigucpan. Tilao. Viesea. Zacatecas. Stein's Pass. El Paso.  

Carl A. Purpus to Katharine Brandegee, 11/26/1903

[1903 Nov 26: 34] Benson 26/XI 1903

Dear Mrs. Brandegee!

I received Your letter yesterday and was very glad to hear from You again. I have sent you this morning that Mamill. spec. with fruit and also that Arbutus my friend has found last winter in the Whetstone Mts. near here. Please five me the names, as soon as possible. We are going to leave Monday for Stens Pass New-Mexico and will be in El Paso about the first or second of next month. I know that plant You sent me well. I found it on rocks right above the City of Zacatecas. Dont't worry I collect all the rare plants again in Zacatecas, Tilao etc.

You are perfectly right in scolding. I know my sets are unvevn, but sometimes I can't help it. I have so many Cactus to collect and sometimes for miles to carry, that it is often impossible to collect many spicends, because I have to leave my press behind. I will do all I can to complet my collection this winter and next spring. Please five me a list of thise plants You wish to have more and I will try to get them. I send to Morrow Herperaloe and leaves and seeds of that Dasylirion which I think might be D. Wheeleri. The plants in Tilao have been collected in July, those in Pachuca also in July, those in Tanigucpan? in July in Zacatecas in Aug, Ixtacihuatl march-July. I will be again in Ixtacihuatl, but think to take the Puebla side which has other plants. I expect to find more new things there. I also think of going into San Luis Potosi. The country about Viesea (Coahuila) seems to be very promising. I have to be there several weeks collecting Cacti. We have found a beautyful fish in a warm stream in Mexico and try to make money out of it. I think they are new, if so I expect to get $10-$20 a pair. We are going to send some to Washington for determination. The volcano de Toluca where Mr. Pringle collected is west from the City of Mexico. The Mountain can be seen from Ixtacuhuatl. I think the Citlatepetl or Peak of Orizaba might be a nice place to collect to. Popocatepetl may have the same flora as Ixtacuhuatl. Is it that low flat growing Tradescantia I found in the Mts. near Pauhuca You wish to have roots of? There's a beautyful Flora, but I had not time enough to collect everything I saw. It is a great pity. I had to collect lots of Cacti there and could stay only a few days. I also saw an immemnce flora in the Sierra east of Ixuciguilpan. We went horsback and stayed only overnight, so I was unable to get anything. I felt very bad about it.

I do not know, where we collect first. If Leuchtenbergia can be sent now, we have to go to Viesea first. Pata Salema is the place who wrote me was the place for this rare cactus. I would like to Know, where E. assecformis grows.

Very sincerely Yours

C. A. Purpus

My kindest regards to Mr. Brandegee.

I have all the plants in my book with date.

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Date and time this article was prepared: 6/7/2002 7:33:40 PM