|Nelson's collecting areas in 1894 and 1895 (click to view).|
by Isobel Nichols.
In 1895, Nelson was in the midst of a “systematic survey” of the Wyoming flora, devoting his summers to expeditions by horseback across the state. On August 4, he was hiking up a canyon in the rugged Laramie Mountains of southeast Wyoming when he discovered a small columbine growing in granite on the east side of Laramie Peak. In his final report the next year, he described Aquilegia laramiensis, the Laramie columbine, one of the earliest of his many botanical discoveries.
[Fast-forward ca 110 years ...]
|Field botanists collect a lot more information now than in the good-old-days (click to view), but of course we don't have to travel by horseback and care for our trusty steeds (until they break down).|
herbarium and came across plant specimens collected by George W. Giles in a project for the Work Projects Administration (WPA) in the early 1930s. In his field notes, I could feel and empathize with the enthusiasm of a young botanist. I read correspondence regarding the specimens he had prepared and sent to Professor Aven Nelson at the University of Wyoming, the leading expert on the region's flora. And now here I was, following in the great professor's footsteps in the rugged Laramie Mountains.
|Aven Nelson in the field, from UW archives.|