Plant Science Bulletin archive

Issue: 1960 v6 No 4 WinterActions


A Publication of the Botanical Society of America, Inc.


Botanical Problems in Arctic America'


The New York Botanical Garden

Address of the retiring President of the Botanical Society of America,
delivered at the annual banquet at Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, August 31, 196o.

I selected the topic, "Botanical Problems in Arctic America," as being timely because of the recent admission of Alaska to the Union as the 49th State, because of the large amount of publicity given to the activities of the International Geophysical Year in arctic and antarctic regions, and because of the increasing importance of our northern outposts in the military defense of this continent. Moreover, after eight field seasons in arctic and subarctic Canada, Alaska and Lappland, I have developed some ideas and some questions that may well be of interest to a group of my botanical colleagues.

World War II brought about the sudden accessibility of the arctic, and, as a result, more botanists have visited arctic America in the last fifteen years than in all previous history put together. The reasons for this increased accessibility and the concomitant invasion of the arctic by botanists are several and diverse. Among them are the development of easier and faster methods of transportation, as bush planes on floats, wheels or skis and tracked vehicles such as weasels and snomobiles instead of dog-sleds; the establishment of new bases for radar sites, weather observations, oil exploration and other purposes that may be used as research centers; the availability of research grants adequate for arctic exploration as well as other types of field support; and not necessarily least, the development of repellants effective against the hordes of unbelievably voracious mosquitoes and other biting insects.

My admiration for early botanists, geologists and other scientists in arctic regions knows no bounds. The rigors of travel described by Linnaeus for his 1732 journey to arctic Lappland were no greater than those endured by botanists in Greenland and in northern Canada and Alaska up to two centuries later, assailed as they were by difficulties of travel, uncertainty of food supply and plagues of insects. Dr. Wulff, a Swedish botanist, died in Greenland in 1917 of exposure and exhaustion.

Today, thanks to the availability of excellent logistic sup-port and adequate transportation facilities, the major danger level has been reduced to indigestion from eating too much of one's own cooking. The dangers of falling from a cliff, crashing in a bush plane, starvation—or even vitamin de-

'Many of the points presented in this address were illustrated, emphasized and supplemented by a series of Kodachrome slides made by the author but which, of course, cannot be reproduced here. ficiency—or being charged by an enraged bear or muskox are more than equally matched by the dangers of slipping in the bathtub at home or being run over while crossing the street.

Arctic Europe has become especially available for scientific work. The railroad built across Lappland in 1903 to carry the rich ores from the great iron mines at Kiruna. at nearly 68° North Latitude, runs west to the Norwegian city of Narvik and east to the Baltic port of Lulea, with most of its length north of the Arctic Circle. Crossing the Arctic Circle while sitting in a comfortable train seemed almost ridiculously easy to me, after five field seasons in arctic Canada and Alaska. The contrast is exaggerated by the comfortable tourist hotels one finds on the south shore of Lake Tornetr~sk and the ease with which one may go from one station to another in interesting areas on trains that run with the frequency of suburban commuters. On the North American continent no highways or railroads cross the Arctic Circle, but many regularly scheduled airline flights do, and one also may easily charter a flight to any area off the regular airways where landing is possible. Tourist hotels of sorts are available at Kotzebue, Barrow and elsewhere north of the Arctic Circle.

The two physical characteristics of the American Arctic that most influence the distribution and behavior of plants are the perennially frozen ground and the long days during the growing season. The long winters and brief summers in themselves produce an effect that differs only in degree from that found in more temperate climates.

Perennially frozen ground, whether wet or dry, soil or rock, was termed "permafrost" by Simeon Muller in 1943, in his extensive review of the extensive Russian studies of frozen ground in Siberia. Although long accepted as a fact of life in northern Canada and Alaska, permafrost became a critical factor to engineers engaged in the construction of air-strips and military bases during World War II, and its study has consequently progressed rapidly, with contributions to the solution of geological and biological problems as well as engineering ones. One botanist, William S. Brnninghoff, has become a leading expert on permafrost. The term permafrost has been objected to on facetious grounds by some, and seriously by others, although because it is simple and obvious it will continue to be widely used. Professor Kirk Bryan has proposed to replace permafrost with

(Continued on page 2)



Rutgers—The State University
40 Rector Street, Newark 2, New Jersey


HARLAN P. BANKS   Cornell University

NORMAN H. BOKE   University of Oklahoma

ELSIE QUARTERMAN    Vanderbilt University

ERICH STEINER    University of Michigan

OCTOBER, 1960   •   VOLUME 6, NO. 4

CHANGES OF ADDRESS: Notify the Treasurer of the Botanical Society of America, Inc., Dr. A. J. Sharp, Department of Botany, University of Tennessee, Knoxville 16, Tennessee.

SUBSCRIPTIONS for Libraries and persons not members of the Botanical Society are obtainable at the rate of $a.00 a year. Send orders with checks payable to "Botanical Society of America, Inc." to the business manager, Dr. Lawrence J. Crockett, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Tea-neck, New Jersey.

MATERIAL SUBMITTED FOR PUBLICATION should be typewritten, double-spaced, and sent in duplicate to the Editor.


(Continued from page t)

"cryopedology," as the science of frozen ground, with a whole family of subordinate terms such as "cryoplanation," "congeliturbation," "pergelation," "Congelifraction," etc., for specific situations. These terms appear more and more frequently in technical papers.

In its northernmost range, permafrost may be extremely thick. It has been reported to extend 2000 feet downwards in Siberia and is well over i000 feet thick in northernmost Alaska. At its southern boundary it becomes very thin and discontinuous and eventually disappears. The origin of present-day permafrost dates from the beginning or from some later phase of the Pleistocene Ice Age, so that it may be as much as a million years old. Pleistocene-Age mammoths frozen into the permafrost have been found so abundantly in Siberia that they furnished for many years the largest single source of commercial ivory.

Permafrost develops where and when the annual mean temperature is from very slightly to very considerably be-low freezing. It is also influenced by plant cover which may furnish insulation and thereby retard thawing, by serving as a differential heat regulator. Conversely, the removal of the vegetation mat may upset the thermal regime and hasten thawing.

Permafrost must be discussed here because of its all-pervasive effects on the growth of arctic plants and its many correlations with arctic vegetation.

I. The maximum depth of superficial thaw each year, the so-called active layer, effectively limits or determines the plants that may grow there. If the active layer is as thin or shallow as 3 inches it will support only sedges, grasses and other fibrous rooted plants without tap roots. Mosses, of course, with no roots, flourish in abundance. Pine is ruled out in permafrost areas because of its deep tap root, whereas black spruce and larch do very well and extend consider-

ably north of the Arctic Circle, where their limit is determined by climate and not by permafrost.

  1. Permafrost provides a base impervious to drainage. Combined with the low evaporation rate, water tends to accumulate in spite of the extremely low precipitation. In flat areas, more than half the land surface may be covered with lakes and ponds, and moderate slopes may become water-logged through moss cover that obstructs drainage. One may be tempted to call this area the wettest desert in the world.

  2. The permafrost surface beneath the active layer provides a lubricated base for down-hill movements of water-logged soil so that even very gentle slopes tend to be unstable and in motion, sometimes with a very disrupting effect on the vegetation.

  3. Frost action in most arctic areas keeps soil, gravel and rock fragments in continual local movement, even when not sliding gradually downhill. This boiling, churning action, called congeliturbation, destroys the normal chronological stratification that we expect to find in soils. The pressure of freezing water causes the extrusion of materials from lower layers, much as milk is extruded from a bottle when frozen. Soil mounds are produced thereby, commonly a few feet high, but more rarely, under the influence of hydrostatic pressure, the mound may become a small hill or "pingo" 20 feet or more high.

  4. The boiling and churning of the ground has a second effect—the particles and materials of stony soils are sorted in circles or polygons on flat ground and in "stripes" and rock-streams on mountain sides. The smaller particles move inwards and the larger materials outwards. In wet soils the polygons are separated by vertical ice-wedges that exert greater and greater pressures on the enclosed soil as they grow in depth and thickness. The development of polygons produces a strong and conspicuous effect on the vegetation. The "patterned ground" produced by frost action is the most conspicuous single feature of arctic areas.

  5. In a general way, permafrost has many other effects. If the superficial insulative layer of vegetation is removed, the underlying permafrost will melt, as engineers learned to their sorrow in early experience with air-strips in Alaska. Where the vegetation had been bulldozed off and heat absorption exaggerated by the construction of black asphalt runways, the surface curved and buckled in waves. Relict ice blocks in the soil at the margin of the permafrost area can be a nuisance or even a hazard to agriculture when they melt, as has been seen at Fairbanks, where large caverns have developed underground. Unfortunately, no plant indictator has been discovered for deep-lying permafrost, although some quantitative effect may eventually turn up with more intensive local study.

The construction of buildings on permafrost brings many engineering problems. Buildings even on pilings may transmit heat into the permafrost through the pilings with a consequent gradual settling, as can be seen, for example, at the post office in Nome. Inhabitants of houses with insufficiently insulated floors may be surprised when suddenly the stove drops into a deep pool of mud. I have seen


photographs of settler's cabins in Siberia where down-ward melting reached an aquafer or water stratum under pressure which then flooded the house and almost immediately froze.

The physiology of plants growing under permafrost conditions has not been well investigated and is not well known in this country. Some work has been done on plants growing and even flowering under snow, where temperatures may be above freezing, and where little movement of air occurs. However, plants up to the size of trees that grow with their roots almost upon permanently frozen ground and their tops in air whose temperature is well above freezing would seem to be in a state of perpetual crisis. The late Professor George Peirce of Stanford University once told me, with his usual humor, that it was obviously quite impossible for plants to do this. Since plants do, however, how they do it certainly needs careful study. Whether the physical chemistry of the roots and root-hairs of arctic plants differs in some way or to some degree from that of plants in temperate climates still remains to be determined. The limitation of all the subterranean activities of plants to the several inches of soil that thaws for a few weeks in the summer presents a situation far different from the one most of us consider to be normal, especially in the deep soils of the prairie states.

Long days during the growing season especially characterize the arctic—in fact, the Arctic Circle is demarcated by that latitude at which the sun does not set on one night of each year. The higher the latitude, the more "nights" of sunshine, and even though the sun may set in subarctic areas, the nights are nevertheless light enough to support the growth of plants. The continuous light is the phenomenon first noted by the new visitor to arctic areas and is the condition most difficult to imagine until experienced. When one wakes up at i :3o in the morning with the sun shining in his eyes, it is difficult to convince his physiological control system that day has not arrived and to relax and go back to sleep. The occupational hazard experienced by vigorous people in the arctic is insufficient sleep and overwork. Like people, plants certainly must respond differently in nature to continous light than they do to the diurnal light rhythms of lower latitudes; yet little experimental work has been done in the arctic with the plants that grow there. Obviously, on the pragmatic evidence that arctic plants produce flowers and seeds, they are long-day plants—or else "day neutral." Short-day plants that may have existed under earlier and more temperature climates at the same latitudes have undoubtedly disappeared through inability to reproduce. The high incidence of apomixis, bulbil-formation and other devices for vegetative propagation may reflect some adaptation to continuous light, and the long-day requirements imposed thereby. The very common comparison of plants of high altitudes with those of high latitudes, and the lumping of both categories as arctic-alpine plants, tends to underemphasize or to conceal the great difference in day-length conditions which in turn must be reflected by real differences in the physiology of the plants themselves.

Just as the Arctic Circle is circumscribed by that latitude at which the sun does not go below the horizon one night each year, so it also coincides with the latitude at which the sun does not rise above the horizon one day of the year. At higher latitudes many days have only twilight, and many others are short, indeed, exactly compensating in length for the opposite seasons. I should mention here the too-common misconception that the arctic is the land of "six months of light and six months of darkness." I have heard serious botanists invoke Wegener's hypothesis of the wandering of the earth's poles, not because of the good reasons given by Wegener, but because they cannot honestly believe that the luxuriant forests, represented now only by abundant fossils, that once reached the farthest northern lands, could have developed under six months of darkness. The presence of coal and abundant plant fossils in Antarctica raises the same question in a more aggravated form. Actually, of course, the darkness, twilight and very short intervals of light would come during the dormant winter period when photosynthesis is suspended because of low temperatures. The present limit of trees northward on the various continents is determined by temperature and perhaps by other climatic factors, not by the shortness of day in winter. Forests of one type or another extend well north of the Arctic Circle in Scandinavia, in Siberia and in North America. Both black spruce (Picea mariana) and larch (Larix laricina) reach the Arctic Ocean at the mouth of the Mackenzie River in northern Canada, but the tree-line abruptly retreats southward toward Hudson Bay and the Ungava Peninsula, paralleling very neatly the depressed isotherms of the midcontinent. In short, one does not have to invoke the wandering of the earth's poles, whether they wandered or not, to explain the presence of forests in polar areas in earlier geological eras, but only a somewhat warmer and more uniform climate.

With this background, I am sure that every botanist, regardless of his field, can see some problem related to his own interests, but transposed into a different context of environmental conditions. Even if time and space permitted, it would be impossible to discuss or even to list all the important and exciting botanical investigations called for in arctic regions. I shall therefore mention a few general problems, only as illustrative examples, to point up the different dimensions and different parameters of botanical research in the arctic.

Although we are well acquainted with the reduced activity of microorganisms at lowered temperatures in the laboratory—and in the home refrigerator—we rarely see its effects in nature. At Barrow and in other arctic seaside villages, the Eskimos abandon everywhere the unused re-mains of seals, walrus, whales, etc. that they have killed during the spring, adding much thereby to the picturesqueness of their habitat. However, instead of the galloping and richly odoriferous putrefaction inevitable in a warmer climate, decomposition takes place slowly under the low temperature, producing only a somewhat rancid but not wholly repulsive odor to which one's nose eventually adjusts. Beyond this, much remains to be known about the


microorganisms of the soil, the water and the air in arctic regions, with especial reference to their metabolic activities.

The fungi of arctic America have received very little attention from professional mycologists. Dr. Douglas Savile is one of the few mycologists who has worked in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Since agriculture is relatively unimportant in arctic regions, no economic incentive has precipitated a comprehensive survey of even the parasitic fungi.

Large marine algae are less conspicuous in artic seas than in even slightly more southerly waters, not because of temperature, but because of the scouring and grinding effect of floe ice on the shores. Although marine algae do occur at some depth and are washed up on the beaches after storms during the ice-free season, no intensive study of them has been made. The growth and productivity of marine plankton of the arctic ocean needs study urgently and such investigations would be well supported by several agencies. Fresh-water algae are abundant and occasionally form conspicuous "blooms" in tundra lakes and ponds. Dr. G. W. Prescott and his students have emphasized research on the fresh water algae of arctic Alaska and on the dynamics of their ecology, but most northern areas have received little organized study by phycologists.

The bryophytes, because they form a rather conspicuous part of the terrestrial vegetation, have received serious attention through field studies in arctic America. Although the basic systematic inventory is reasonably complete, continuing problems of significance lie in the areas of ecology. geographical distribution, cytology and physiology of bryophytes, as well as their relation to permafrost.

Since earliest times the flowering plants have traditionally received more attention than other groups of plants, and nearly Soo species have been found on the arctic slope of Alaska, alone. The critical studies by Wiggins, Porsild and Hulten on geographical distribution and by Love on chromosome numbers have produced interesting and useful results. Love has brought forth much evidence to support the hypothesis proposed by Hagerup, that arctic plants show a greater degree of polyploidy and therefore possess a greater gene pool or genetic resource with which to resist the unfavorable environment. Cytological research on the growth of roots very close to permafrost and of meiosis in flowers subjected to daily temperatures below the freezing point should yield results of great interest.

As implied throughout, the very physical conditions that make the arctic region what it is lead inevitably to ecological problems that need solutions. An excellent analysis of the vegetation dynamics in Alaska has been made by Dr. Max Britton, and we await with impatience the publication of the results of his sophisticated and cleverly instrumented studies of microenvironments at Point Barrow. The results of these ecological researches will be extremely useful to workers in every other biological field.

For genetic and biosystematic studies in such large and enormously complicated arctic groups as willows and loco weeds, among others, some sort of botanical garden must eventually be established in northern Canada or Alaska—or both. Genetical studies of species related to horticultural varieties will certainly turn up genes for hardiness and resistance as well as other desirable characteristics for use in plant-breeding programs. The genetics of fertility and sterility in arctic plants likewise need study because of the many alternative means of vegetatives reproduction that they display.

Although paleobotanical work in Alaska began early, this is still a highly promising field because of the abundance of fossils and the existence of forests in previous geological eras where only tundra now occurs. Microfossils, especially spores and pollen grains, have not received the attention in arctic areas that they deserve, except for the private, probably never-to-be published works of oil companies, who use their data for the purpose of correlating geological horizons in exploration for oil, which, incidentally, is surprisingly abundant in arctic Alaska. The use of Carbon-14 techniques and other modern dating methods in the arctic will give data extremely helpful for understanding the dimension of time during which the present types of vegetation have developed, as well as the cyclic changes in past climates.

At the moment, the most experimental and highly instrumented kinds of investigation of the behavior of plants under arctic conditions may have to be carried out in the well-equipped laboratories of more temperate regions. How-ever, where natural conditions cannot be duplicated or even imitated, such experiments will eventually have to be made in the arctic, as laboratory facilities become available.

The Arctic Research Laboratory at Point Barrow, the northernmost part of the United States, offers many opportunities for research in arctic Alaska, in any appropriate field of science. Operating through the University of Alaska, the Geography Branch of the Office of Naval Re-search has for several years provided funds for the support of the Arctic Research Laboratory. Scientists who have re-search funds available to them from the Office of Naval Research, the National Science Foundation, tht Arctic Institute of North America or from other responsible agencies, and whose research falls within the scope of interest and activity of the Arctic Research Laboratory, may apply to ONR for the privilege of working there. If space and other facilities permit his residence at the Laboratory. the scientist is provided with full logistic support, which means that he is furnished with food, lodging, heavy clothing, and placed in the field where his plans require or else given laboratory space and equipment for his work in one of the 17 laboratories. Any qualified botanist who is seriously interested in taking advantage of the many facilities of the Arctic Research Laboratory in order to implement original investigations on arctic problems, and who has developed well thought out research plans, would be well advised to discuss them informally with Dr. Max Britton of the Geography Branch of the Office of Naval Research before making a final application. At the moment, facilities are available and much scientific work is going on near Cape Thompson, between Kotzebue and Point Hope. Here the Atomic Energy Commission has established a


base for extensive environmental studies before some pro-posed underground experimental explosions of atomic materials are detonated, in a year or two. Dr. John Wolfe, of AEC, another botanist, is in charge of these environmental studies. Other facilities for research in arctic Alaska may occasionally be found in the various Distant Early Warning or DEW Line sites along the arctic coast of Alaska and Canada, as well as in other quasi-military establishments. With a research grant adequate for chartering the service of a bush plane, a properly equipped investigator can reach nearly any area of arctic Alaska in which he wishes to work, quite independently of the agencies or bases just mentioned. However, in my opinion, one is well advised to work through the Arctic Research Laboratory or the Arctic Institute of North America, or both, because of the facilities and logistic services that these organizations can give, as well as their experience in cutting red tape.

In Canada, the Defense Research Northern Laboratory at Churchill, on the west coast of Hudson Bay, offers excellent facilities to investigators with research problems appropriate to the geographical locale, at the tension zone between the forest and the tundra. Although the latitude is only subarctic, the depressed isotherms of the midcontinent produce an arctic climate which is turn controls the limit of trees. Occasional highly qualified workers have been accommodated in weather stations and other establishments on the various islands of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, even as far north as Alert, on Ellesmere Island, at a latitude of 82°. Again, with adequate funds for transportation, sufficient equipment, and the highly essential approval of the proper authorities, a serious worker can place himself in any geographical spot whose circumstances are most appropriate to the requirements of his work. For independent research of this sort, arrangements must be made well in advance.

It may be appropriate to note here that the University of Copenhagen's Biological Laboratory on Disko Island, on the west coast of Greenland, is probably the oldest arctic scientific station in existence. Admission to the Laboratory and permission to work anywhere in Greenland is given by a central commission on arctic research, at the University of Copenhagen. Moreover, workers must be able to qualify for a Danish visa and for official permission to visit Green-land. Occasional researchers with special needs have received permission to center their investigations at U. S. installations, at Sondrestrf smfjord, at Thule, and at other bases in Greenland. Plans for such work require prolonged negotiations, far in advance of the actual field season, be-cause of the dual responsibiilties for obtaining clearance by both the Danish Government and the U. S. Military establishment.

I am obliged to add somewhat parenthetically that the Russians have far more arctic scientific research and experimental bases and stations than America does, scattered through the vast reaches of the Siberian arctic and the arctic islands north of the Eurasian continent. Whether scientists from outstide the iron curtain are welcome or even tolerated in these laboratories, I do not know. My only advice to anyone who is resourceful enough to arrange an invitation to work in one of the arctic research stations in the USSR is that he insist on a round-trip ticket.

In summary, then, in arctic regions every field of botany, every plant science-and every science-presents innumerable problems that demand investigation. These problems are challenging and timely and many are now of real importance to our national welfare. Moreover, because of the novel environmental conditions and the relatively small amount of previous work, investigations of arctic problems are very apt to be unusually rewarding and productive. As I look back over the thoughts just expressed, I realize that the title of this talk might well have been "Botanical Opportunities in Arctice America."



Anderson, J. P. 1959. Flora of Alaska and adjacent parts of Canada; an

illustrated descriptive text of all vascular plants known to occur with-

in the region covered. Iowa State Univ. Press, Ames.

Benninghoff,   W.   S.,   Jr.   1952.   Interaction   fo   vegetation   and   soil   frost

phenomena. Arctic 5: 34-44.

Bliss, L. C. 1958. Seed germination in arctic and alpine species. Arctic 1 t :


Bhchcr, T. W., K. Holmen & K. Jakobscn. 1957. Grylnlands Elora. Kc$ben-


&   . 1959. A synoptical study of the Green-

land flora. Mcddel. om Gr¢nland. 163(1): 1-32.

Britton,   M.   E.   1957.   Vegetation   of   the   arctic   tundra.   pp.   26-61,   18th

Biology Colloquium, Oregon State College.

Drew, J. V., J. C. F. Tedrow, It. E. Shanks & J. J. Koranda. 1958. Rate

and depth of thaw in arctic soils. Trans. Amer. Geophysical Union

39(4):   697-701.

Hopkins, D. M. 1959. Some characteristics of the climate in forest and

tundra regions in Alaska. Arctic r2: 214-220.

& R. S. Sigafoos. 1951. Frost action and vegetation patterns on

Seward   Peninsula, Alaska.   U.   S. Geological Survey Bull.   974   (C):


Hulten, E. 1941-1950. Flora of Alaska and Yukon. Parts I-X. Lunds Univ.

Arskrift, N. F. Avd. 2, Vol. 37-46.

Love, A.   1959. Origin of the arctic flora. In   Problems of the Pleistocene

and Arctic. McGill Univ. Museums Pub]. 1: 83-95.

&   Doris   Love.   1957.   Arctic   polyploidy.   Proc.   Genetics   Soc.

Canada z: 23-27.

Pdwd, T. 1957. Permafrost and its effect on life in the North. pp. 12-25,

18th Biology Colloquim, Oregon State College.

Polunin, N., W. R. Taylor, R. Ross, C. D. Kelly, W. C. Stecre, R. Singer

&   E. Dahl.   1954.   The cryptogamic   flora of   the Arctic. I-VII.   Bet.

Review 20: 361-476.

Porsild, A. E. 1951. Plant life in the Arctic. Canad. Geog. Jour. 42:   120-


Porsild, A. E. 1957. Illustrated flora of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.

Nat. Mus. Canada Bull. 146: 1-209.

Potzger, J. E. & A. Courtemanche. 1955. Permafrost and some character-

istics   of   bogs   and   vegetation   of   northern   Quebec.   Revue   Canad.

Gdographie 9(2-3):   109-114.

Raup, H. M. 1954. Some botanical problems of the arctic and Subarctic

Regions. Arctic 7: 229-235.

Spetzman, L. A.   1959. Vegetation of the Arctic Slope of Alaska. In Ex-

ploration of Naval Petroleum Reserve #4 and adjacent areas, north-

ern Alaska, 1944-1953, Part 2, pp. 1-ct1,   19-58. U.S.G.S., Washing-

ton, D. C.

Steere, W. C. 1952. Botanical research in Alaska. Selected Papers of Alaskan

Science Conference, pp. 103-11o. Arctic Inst. North Amer.

•   1953.   On   the   geographical   distribution   of   arctic   bryophytes.

In. I. L. Wiggins, (Editor), Current Biological Research in the Alaskan

Arctic. Stanford Univ. Publ., Biol. Sci. In 30-47.

Wiggins,   I.   L.   1951. The distribution   of   vascular   plants   on polygonal

ground near Point Barrow, Alaska. Dudley Herb. Contrib. 4: 41-52.




Arctic botantical   research. Science   115:   3.




Potentialities for the future development of the American




131-134, 18th Biology Colloqium, Oregon State College.

& J. H. Thomas. 1861. Flora of the Alaskan Arctic Slope. Univ.

Toronto Press. (In press.)




The Botanical Society of America, Inc.


SESSION I—August 29, 1960

  • The meeting was called to order by President Thimann at 1:20 p.m. in the West Room, Library Building. Approximately 70 members were present, constituting a quorum. Since the minutes of the 1959 Business Meeting had been published in Plant Science Bulletin, these were not read.

  • As instructed by the Council, the Secretary presented the names of those on the second nominating ballot who stood in the top three places as a result of the balloting in which more than 1400 votes had been received. These names, listed in order, highest in each category, were as follows




Member of

Editorial Committee


Vice President


V. I. Cheadle

R. C. Rollins

J. Torrey

L. Constance

H. P. Banks

R. McVaugh

P. J. Kramer

C. L. Wilson

T. A. Steeves

A motion was made, seconded, and carried unanimously that the candidates with the highest number of votes in each category be elected. The new officers for 1961, there-fore, are:

President: V. I. Cheadle

Vice President: R. C. Rollins

Editorial Committee Member: J. Torrey

  1. President Thimann announced that the Council, under the provisions of the By-laws, had decided to meet with the A.I.B.S. for the years 1961 (at Purdue University) and 1962 (at Oregon State University).

  2. It was announced that various reports from the Society's Sections and Committees had been received and approved by the Council.

  3. Committee reports of special significance were discussed in more detail. Dr. Wetmore presented the general plan of a committee to be set up for the purpose of ascertaining the need of a general botanical organization. Preliminary reactions to such a federation from the various plant science societies was definitely positive and if National Science Foundation funds develop, then a study committee, composed of members from the various plant science societies and under the chairmanship of a Botanical Society representative, will report its findings and recommendations to the various organizations concerned at the meetings in 1961 at Purdue University.

Dr. Little questioned the need of such a federation, pointing out that this type of organization was supposed to have been affected by affiliation with the A.I.B.S. Dr. Wetmore re-emphasized that the committee was only to study the need and desirability rather than offer a resolution.

  1. Dr. G. S. Avery commented on the possibility of getting support for more awards for various achievements in the field of botany. These would be awarded preferably at the annual meetings, as are the Darbaker and Meritorious Awards. It was pointed out that the chemical societies as well as others present far more awards than do botanical societies. Dr. Avery felt that botany might profit from the interest generated by such awards both in professional groups and the general public. In particular, he suggested that an Interpretative Award be presented to the person or persons presenting the best article to the lay public from a science interpretive viewpoint.

Dr. Steere suggested that Dr. Avery, in view of his interests, be selected as chairman of an Awards Committee to explore ways and means. A Committee will presumably be set up with Dr. Avery as Chairman. It was announced that suggestions from the membership would be welcomed.

  1. Dr. Bold reported that the National Science Foundation had approved a proposal submitted by the Society to issue a revised edition of the Career Bulletin. The new edition should be ready for distribution by January 1, 1961.

  2. The Secretary reported that the Council approved, as empowered by the By-Laws, the publication of a new membership list (Yearbook) for the years 1960-1962. Information cards for this purpose will be distributed during the fall of 1960.

  3. The President reported that the Council had decided to publish abstracts of the various papers to be presented at the Purdue meetings, and that these would be published in the July issue of the American Journal of Botany with supplemental pagination. The abstracts should appear be-fore the meetings.

1o. The Treasurer raised the question of dues for Life Members and Patrons. These stood at $100 and $250 respectively, according to the By-Laws. A motion was made, seconded, and carried unanimously for the Secretary to poll the membership for changes as provided under the By-Laws. Dues for Life Members would be increased from $ioo to $200 and those of Patrons from $250 to $500.

  1. Dr. Kavaljian, Secretary of the Developmental Section, reported that an organizational luncheon meeting of that group had been held and that the first elected officers were: Chairman—W. A. Jensen; Vice Chairman—I. K. Ross; Secretary—L. G. Kavaljian; Member of the Editorial Board, A. J. B.:—R. M. Klein.

  2. Dr. Flora M. Scott made inquiry as to the desirability of having the reviewers for the American journal of Botany remain anonymous. After some discussion it was suggested that the Editor add a marginal note to his standard form letter to the effect that a reviewer need not remain anonymous unless he so desires, and further, to counsel the reviewer to avoid violent expressions if at all possible.

  3. The meeting was adjourned at 1:5o p.m.


SESSION II—August 30, 1960

  1. The meeting was called to order by President Thi-

mann at 1:00 p.m.

  1. The interim reports and proposed budgets of both the Treasurer and the Business Manager were approved by the members present (representing a quorum).

  2. Dr. A. C. Smith suggested that future budgets carry an item or items showing interest received from N.S.F. grants, etc. The Treasurer was so instructed.

  3. The meeting stood adjourned at 1:25 p.m.

Respectifully submitted, 13. L. TURNER. Secretary


Awards of Certificates of Merit for outstanding contributions to American Botany were announced at the annual banquet of the Botanical Society of America on August 31. 196o. The recipients and the citations enscribed on their respective certificates are:

JAMES P. BENNETT, distinguished investigator of dormancy and growth; helpful, wise, and understanding counsellor; and godfather to succeeding generations of students in plant physiology who have carried his influence to every corner of the globe.

WILLIAM DWIGHT BILLINGS, for his fruitful and stimulating studies of the physiological behavior of plant species and ecotypes in nature. His investigations have covered the continent from east to west, giving us new insight into the ecology of deserts, forests, and meadows. He and his colleagues have created one of the world's leading ecological centers.

WALTER CONRAD MUENSCHER, a truly versatile botanist, for his many distinguished contributions, especially his books on weeds, aquatic plants, poisonous plants and garden herbs. His lifelong devotion to all phases of botany has stimulated the lives and the careers of his numerous students.

KENNETH B. RAPER, for his pioneering and continuing studies on the slime molds and for his distinguished contributions to the morphology and classification of Aspergillus and Penicillium.

REED CLARK ROLLINS, a leading exponent of an up-to-date plant taxonomy that embraces morphology, ecology, cytology, and genetics, in well balanced emphasis. He has brought new lustre to an already distinguished institution.

Request for Silene

Arthur R. Kruckeberg, Department of Botany, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington is seeking seed or living plants of Silene, Lychnis and Melandrium from North America, especially from Alaska, Canada, Mexico, the Rocky Mounatins, and certain species from eastern United States (S. nivea, S. ovata, and S. rotundifolia). Professor Kruckeberg would be happy to collect plants of the Pacific Northwest in exchange.


At the annual banquet a resolution was offered by President Thimann expressing the gratitude and congratulations of the Society to the Oklahoma State University officials for the excellent manner in which they arranged and carried out the complexities of the meetings. In particular, the Society expressed its gratitude and appreciation to Dr. Walter W. Hansen, local committeeman, for his activities in making the Botanical Society meetings so successful.

THE CANADIAN SOCIETY OF PLANT PHYSIOLOGISTS met in the University of Toroto on June 2nd and 3rd, 196o. The proceedings included six sessions of contributed papers and the G. H. Duff Memorial Symposium on Developmental Physiology under the chairmanship of Dr. G. Krotkov. Participants in the symposium were Dr. E. T. Winning, University of Tiibingen; Dr. F. C. Steward, Cornell University; and Dr. G. Setterfield, National Re-search Council of Canada. The Society has established a category of corresponding members available to plant physiologists outside Canada. Address inquiries to the Secretary-Treasurer, Dr. Dorothy F. Forward, Department of Botany, University of Toronto, Toronto 5, Canada.

At the annual meeting of the Northeastern Section of the Botanical Society of America, June 19-22, 1960, the following officers were elected: Chairman: Dr. Norman J. Gillette, Syracuse University; Vice-Chairman: Miss Mathilde Weingartner, Staten Island Institute of Arts and Sciences; Secretary-Treasurer: Dr. William A. Niering, Connecticut College. The next meeting of the section will be held at Syracuse in 1961.


Carroll E. Cox, Professor of Plant Pathology, University of Maryland, on June 24, 1960.

Ivan M. Johnston, Associate Professor of Botany at Harvard University, on May 31, 1960, in his sixty-third year. He had been a member of the staff of the Arnold Arboretum since 1931 and was known for his monographic work on the Boraginaceae and his floristic work in the deserts of the United States, Mexico and South America. A biographical report of his life and professional career and his bibliography will be published in the Journal of the Arnold Arboretum for January 1g6r.

Theodor K. Just, Chief Curator of the Department of Botany of the Chicago Natural History Museum, on June 14, 1960, in his fifty-sixth year. He joined the staff of the Museum in 1946 after having taught at the University of Notre Dame, and became Chief Curator in 1947.

Nils E. Svedelius, Emeritus Professor of Botany at the University of Uppsala, Sweden, on August 2, 196o. He was 87 years old. With the death of Nils E. Svedelius, Swedish botany lost one of its great names. His work over more than six decades was mainly on marine algae, and he was also very active in teaching and in many scientific societies. In the years 1935-1950 he was President of the Botanical Section of the International Biological Union.


The Committee on Translations of the Botanical Society of America

The Society was asked by the representative of the Committee on Translations of AIBS to give its opinion on the desirabiilty of translating certain botanical monographs from Russian. The AIBS indicated that it was prepared to finance a limited number of such translations. In order to be able to give a really responsible reply, and because other similar requests could well be expected in the future, the President of the Society, Dr. K. V. Thimann, appointed a Committee to consider the whole problem of Translations. In selecting the members of the Committee Dr. Thimann wrote: "This project raises the problem of the selection of foreign botanical literature for translation in general. The Society needs an active, intelligent and well distributed group of botanists to give opinions on these matters, to keep an eye open for suitable material in foreign languages whose translations would be worth financing, and generally to develop the whole field of botanical translation. With the increasing contribution to science in Russia and China, and the output from Japan, I foresee that the matter will become of steadily growing importance."

The members of the Committee were selected to represent: (a) knowledge of botany, (b) judgment, (c) interest in the literature, especially foreign, and (d) representation of different fields. In addition, at least two of the members read the Russian language fluently. They are:

E. K. Akamine, Horticulture, knowledge of oriental litera-

ture. Agric. Exper. Station, University of Hawaii, Hono-

lulu 14, Hawaii.

C. J. Alexopoulos, Mycology, Dept. of Botany, State. U. of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa.

Katherine Esau, Anatomy, Russian language, Dept. of Botany, U. of California, Davis, Calif.

J. Levitt, Physiology, Dept. of Botany, U. of Missouri. Columbia, Mo.

H. J. Oosting, Ecology, Dept. of Botany, Duke University, Durham, N. C.

Reed C. Rollins, Systematics, Gray Herbarium, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

R. C. Starr, Physology, Dept. of Botany. U. of Indiana, Bloomington, Ind.

G. Ledyard Stebbins, Genetics, U. of California, Davis, Calif.

Helen P. Sorokin, (Chairman), Cytology, Russian language, 8 Cliff Street, Winchester, Mass.

The AIBS Committee on Translations has announced a reappraisal of its policy of translating whole journals and the possible creation of a series of new journals entitled Selected Soviet Articles in the Specific Field of Biology (see May issue, Newsletter of AIRS, In Brief . . . In Biology . . .). In this connection, individual biologists and member societies are to be requested to present their proposals for translations. Such a policy will make it more than ever necessary for individual plant scientists to be in- formed on what foreign publications it is desirable to have translated.

The Committee therefore asks all botanists to send recommendations for translations to the member of this Committee who is in their own field of specialization, or, if they have Russian books and wish them to be appraised, please send them to the members reading Russian (the books will be duly returned). In this project the Commit-tee will concentrate on monographs and reviews and will stress pure plant science rather than Agriculture and Agronomy.

Fully realizing the difficulty in selecting limited material for translation which would comply with the requests of American readers, and at the same time represent adequately the Russian botanical literature, we have written person-al letters to a number of leading Soviet scholars asking them to give limited lists of the most outstanding contributions to their own field of specialization by Soviet botanists in the last to years, thus covering ecology (geobotanv) anatomy and morphology, cytology, and physiology. We have received a most enthusiastic response and have already compiled a list in ecology. This list will be compared with the works most frequently requested by American ecologists and thus the few books most appropriate for translation will be selected. It is planned to survey other fields in the same way.

Helen P. Sorokin, Chairman, Botanical Society of America, Committee on Translations.


Two excellent publications of the Botanical Society of America are still available and will be sent to members for the cost of mailing. These arc Bulletin 11q: "An Exploratory Study of the Teaching of Botany in the Colleges and Universities of the United States," 1938; and Bulletin 120: "Achievement Tests in Relation to Teaching Objectives in General College Botany," 1939. Both were prepared by the Committee on the Teaching of Botany in American Colleges and Universities. They will be especially interesting and useful to the newer members of the Society who do not own copies. To obtain either one, send 15 cents in coins ,or to obtain both, send 25 cents in coin to Dr. Hiram F. Thut, Botany Department, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, Illinois.


The Darbaker Award for 196o was presented to Dr. Janet R. Stein for her meritorious work in the study of algae. The presentation was made at the annual banquet of the Society.

Back to overview