Carl Purpus, Plant Collector in Western America The Botanical Collections of C. A. Purpus in Mexico: The Years 1893 - 1925 (Continued)  

by Mario Sousa Sanchez

English translation by Lauramay T. Dempster  

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Literature Cited
Original Title:
Sousa, M., Las colecciones botanicas de C. A. Purpus en Mexico,
Univ. Calif. Publ. Bot., 51: 1-36, 1969.

Republished on the World Wide Web by Permission of
University of California Press

      The year 1908 was one of the pleasantest of Purpus' life in Mexico, since he was visited by two of his favorite people: his friend Townshend Stith Brandegee, and his brother Joseph Anton.

Literature Cited:
- Moran, R., 1952.    

Dr. R. Moran (Moran, 1952) tells us of Brandegee's trip to the south of Mexico: "From May to July of 1908, he collected with Purpus in the states of Puebla and Oaxaca. But despite the fact that (Brandegee) helped him in the botanical collecting, his name does not appear on the collection data; furthermore, in fact, Brandegee does not even mention in his report his part in Purpus' collections."
      The arrival of Joseph Anton with his chief, Dr. Heinrich Schenck (born in 1860 in Germany, died in 1927) director of the Botanical Garden of Darmstadt, must have coincided for a short time with the presence of Dr. Brandegee, during the month of July.

Literature Cited:
- Cardot, J., 1909-1919, 1913.
- Purpus, Joseph Anton, 1916.    

Whereas Brandegee's aim was to collect herbarium specimens, that of J.A. Purpus and Dr. Schenck was fundamentally concerned with the acquisition of live specimens, especially succulents, which ultimately would form part of the greenhouse collection of Mexican xerophytes in Darmstadt (Purpus, J. A., 1916). His collections also included a small collection of mosses, which were studied by J. Cardot in France (Cardot, 1909-1910, 1913).
      His explorations included the Sierra Nevada in the state of Mexico; in Pueblo the areas of Tehuacán, Esperanza and San Luis Tultitlanapa; the Sierra Mixteca in Oaxaca, and the area of Zacuapam in Veracruz.

Literature Cited:
- Purpus, Carl Albert, 1906-1908.
- Purpus, Joseph Anton, 1909.    

The work rhythm to which C.A. Purpus was accustomed, plus the inclemency of the areas traveled, were too much for the European botanists; his brother fell sick with malaria and Dr. Schenck with intestinal trouble (Purpus, C. A., 1906-1908). In this respect J.A. Purpus complains bitterly of his brother and tells us: "In the Sierra Mixteca the food was very bad, but it would have been better if my brother had made favorable arrangements; he thinks that all the world is as simple as he is." He continues: "We also suffer from thirst" (Purpus, J. A., 1909).
      Apparently C.A. Purpus separated from his brother and companion at the end of September and dedicated himself to collecting on the Pico de Orizaba and on Popocatépetl, while J.A. Purpus and Dr. Schenck dedicated themselves to preparing their botanical material to ship from Veracruz the 14th of October, for Europe.
      C.A. Purpus continued his explorations in 1909 in the state of Puebla. In 1910 he went north to Coahuila, especially to the Sierra de Parras, de la Paila and del Rey; and in San Luis Potosí east of the Sierra de Guascamá: Cerritos, Minas de San Rafael, Angostura, Agua de Enmedio and Bagre.
      The following year he was gravely ill with malaria, and when scarcely recovered he returned to San Luis Potosí, and east of the zone of Guascamá; he collected west of Valles, in Rascón and Gallinas; he went again to the Sierra de la Paila, in Coahuila, and to Esperanza, Puebla; there are collections from this year in the Pedregal de San Angel.

Literature Cited:
- Purpus, Carl Albert, 1914-1915.    

Of his collecting trips in 1912 (see map), Purpus published in some detail his explorations from Spring to Autumn and he tells us: (Purpus, C. A., 1914-1915) "Because of the conditons of insecurity that prevail in many states, I could only explore in Veracruz and part of Puebla. Thus, I visited Tehuacán and Esperanza. It would have been very risky to make more distant excursions. The Zapatistas were everywhere." And he continues: "My work ended in Tehuacán, I visited Esperanza, passing afterwards through Mexico and Jalapa, continuing on horseback from Naolinco to Misantla."
      From the environs of Misantla he tells us: "After having ridden two hours through the high forest, we arrived at the simple inn of the mountain, where one can pass the night, and there is something very simple to eat, muleteers' food, somewhat harsh for gentlemen." And he continues "Another time a tremendous rainstorm came; going down, on the way we encountered ("totonacas?") places which were protected from the water by the leaves of Gunnera and of a Caladium. For that reason I had to lie down so that my clothing would dry..."

Literature Cited:
- Brandegee, T. S., 1909-1924.    

It is interesting to note that Purpus, in 1912, plainly identified in the field the genus Gunnera, which was published about 1922 as a new species, Gunnera mexicana Brandegee (Brandegee, 1909-1924).

Literature Cited:
- Hoffmann, C. C., 1932.    

Purpus remained four weeks in Misantla, using the house of Engelmann or William Gugelmann (according to C.C. Hoffman (1932)) as a point of reference.
      Engelmann, of Swiss origin, was the entomological collector of Robert Mueller who possessed at that time the most important collection of Mexican butterflies. C.A. Purpus also collected for Mueller, who sent the material to Lepidopteran specialists of institutions such as the United States National Museum in Washington, where currently one finds types of butterflies collected by C.A. Purpus in Esperanza, Puebla; Rascón, Minas de San Rafael and Cerritos, in San Luis Potosí, and in localities in the state of Coahuila.

Literature Cited:
- Miranda, F. y E. Hernández X., 1963.    

Purpus leaves Misantla the 15th of August in the company of Engelmann in order to explore that which he himself called "the savannas of the Baños de Carrizal," this being no other than the lower deciduous forest of Miranda (Miranda and Hernandez, 1963).
      Near Mapaxila (Mapaxtla) they had an encounter with a group of bandits, without suffering major consequences. They continue collecting in Antigua and, returning by train, they separate in Chichicaxtle, where Purpus rides horseback one day in order to be again in Zacuapam at the beginning of October.
Sousa Sánchez: the botanical collections of C.A. Purpus

Zacuapam Dec. 15, 1918

Dear Mr. Brandegee:

      The last few days I spent in the neighborhood of Tlacozintla, looking for fruiting specimens of Acrodiclidium. Fortunately it was possible for me to find a few branches on a tree; with fruits and involucres; I collected about a dozen specimens for my share.

Last week I went to another tree, in the Barranca of Zacuapam. This solitary tree also had a few branches with fruits, which I could not reach, and also to my surprise some branches with buds. Thus I was able to collect specimens in flower within eight to ten days.

      Yesterday I received a letter from the American consul, in which he writes regarding a Cocus adipofer; as you will see, I sent you the letter. This lives on a Spondias. The Spondias may be the one that I sent you some time ago, among specimens to be determined. I would be pleased if you would send me its botanical name, as also that of the cocoa, of which I sent fruit to Professor Fairchild. I asked the consul to write to me in case he would be so agreeable as to send eight or more herbarium parcels to the University. I suppose that he will do it.


C. A. Purpus

      The involucre of Acrodiclidium is scarlet. Mr. Popenoe does not come; he is afraid of being molested on the way here. I believe that he had had some bad times during his explorations in Mexico.
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Date and time this article was prepared: 6/7/2002 7:32:28 PM