Carl Purpus, Plant Collector in Western America Report on My Journey to the La Sal Mountains (Continued)  

C. A. Purpus

Translated from German by Barbara Ertter  

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Original Title:

Bericht uber meine Tour in die La Sol-Mountains

C. A. Purpus, San Diego, Kalifornien

Mitteilungen der Deutchen Dendrologischen Gesellschaft. 8: 142-146.

      In order that our readers can gain an understanding of the perils that a collector in the rugged high mountains must cope with, a report just received from Mr. Purpus follows:

Other Articles: On the Trail…: 0570  

"We were making excellent progress when there arose a terrible storm such as I had never before experienced in the mountains. It snowed five days and five nights straight, so horribly that I fully expected that we would get snowed in. We were camped at about 9000 feet elevation. When it was over, the snow lay three to four feet deep and restricted all activity in the area. Some of our cones lay around the cabin and were quickly brought to safety. The remainder were in other places where we had been collecting, including Picea pungens argentea and P. engelmanni glauca pendula. Jaeger shoveled the former out of the snow yesterday, and the latter the day before. The cones of Pseudotsuga douglasii glauca were left buried and abandoned under the snow, as nothing could be done. We had to drag the cones and our entire collection on our backs for two miles through three to four feet of snow. It was horrible! It is terribly cold here; in the middle of October the temperature was -16 deg. R. at 9000 feet."

Other Articles: On the Trail…: 0580  

Our reader can tell from this that collecting in such a region is not to be taken lightly. By luck, Mr. Purpus saved great quantities of valuable seeds, but his profits were barely enough to cover his considerable travel expenses. Only a person with the tremendous enthusiasm and devotion of Purpus would be able to travel in these inhospitable regions, constantly risking health and life itself, to bring such beautiful botanical treasures back to his native country. For this, we will be indebted to Mr. Purpus for years to come.
      We are obligated to remember this, and to express here the gratitude of the dendrologists to this conscientious man. Such a scrupulous collector, who brings us seeds from the harsh climes suitable to our needs, is not often found. No one should question that such valuable seeds come with a high pricetag. The connoisseur gladly pays the higher price, knowing well that the seeds are worth a thousand times more. Such items are not to be compared with a hodge-podge thrown together from all over the place, that, when planted for silviculture, do not characteristically turn out well, because they do not come with a guarentee of their suitability.
      Not only should it be acknowledged that Mr. Purpus's pursuits are honest, but they should also be encouraged by our purchases of his valuable seeds.1 One may thereby be certain of the best horticultural results!
1 The distribution of seeds is handled by the H. Henkel firm in Darmstadt, appointed purveyor to His Royal Majesty.
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Date and time this article was prepared: 6/7/2002 7:32:24 PM