Plant Trivia TimeLine: 1900 – 1953

Mendel through Watson, Crick, Franklin, etc.

1900 At the brink of the 20th century, world population had reached nearly 1.6 billion. Slavery in the United States, an institution born of cotton, rice, coffee, and sugar production, had been abolished for less than forty years. Women could not yet vote. The continents were conceptually fixed, in static perfection achieved at the creation several thousand years before. Light microscopy was the limit of our ability to resolve cellular structure. Scientists recognized simply two kingdoms of living beings and about 100,000 species of plants. We could list 10 essential plant elements, and remained convinced that oxygen produced during photosynthesis was derived from CO2.American chestnut dominated the mixed mesophytic empire. There were 5 daylily cultivars. And the entire realm of genetics and genomics was about to explode.

1900 In a short period, three scientists, individually, Hugo de Vries, Carl Correns, and Erich von Tschermach published papers that recognized the work of Gregor Mendel [1866]. The significance of Mendel’s observations quickly folded into many lines of research, allowing new connections and synthesis.

1900 Botanist Mikhail Tsvet, while studying plant pigments, developed chromatography, utilizing columns of calcium carbonate run with an eluent of petroleum ether and ethanol. (Wikipedia, 2018)

1900 The British owned Pacific Islands Company purchased rights to all minerals on 3-mile-long Ocean Island for £50 a year. That company quickly evolved as Pacific Phosphate Company and assumed control of neighboring Gilbert and Ellice Islands. Within 80 years, 20,000,000 tons of phosphate for agricultural fertilizer (shipped to Australia and New Zealand for crops exported mainly to Britain) were extracted from the island, obliterating the original tropical vegetation and destroying the homeland of thousands of native islanders. Through cooperation with the German Protectorate, the same fate soon befell neighboring Nauru (8.5 sq. miles.) and its original 1,400 inhabitants. (Ponting, 1991)

1900 Joseph Pernet-Ducher (of Lyon) introduced what is thought to be the first yellow hybrid rose, ‘Soleil d’Or’. Making thousands of fruitless crosses, his persistence was rewarded with a single plant that provided the genetic source for yellow coloration in Hybrid Teas and Floribundas. (Grimshaw, 1998) [See 1583]

1901 Mendel’s paper on inheritance in peas was re-published in the RHS journal. [See 1866]

1901 Japanese chemist Satori Kato filed a patent for instant coffee. His patent was issued in 1903 – #735777 Coffee Concentrate and Process of Making Same. New Zealander, David Strang, gets credit for inventing instant coffee years earlier, introducing his soluble powder in 1889, followed by a patent application in 1890. (Wikipedia, 2016)

1901 Japanese biologist Shigetane Ishiwatari isolated a bacterium involved in death of silkworms, which he named Bacillus sotto. In 1911, Ernst Berliner encountered the bacterium again (while studying death in Mediterranean flour moths), naming it Bacillus thuringiensis (after the German town Thuringia, where the moth was collected). Ishiwatari’s binomial was rejected, while Beliner’s stuck, giving rise to the abbreviation Bt. The bacterium was in use as a pesticide in France a decade later. (Ronald & Adamchak, 2018,

1901 Iowans Charles Hatt and Charles Parr built the first gasoline powered tractor. (Fussell, 1992)

1901 John Davey published The Tree Doctor, considered the first serious book covering tree treatment and surgery in the US. By 1909, Davey had established Davey Tree Expert Company, which included a training academy named the Davey School of Practical Forestry. (Campana, 1999)

1901 As a student in St. Petersburg, Russia, Dimitry Neljubow demonstrated that unusual growth reactions of peas under laboratory circumstances was related to ethylene from coal- gals lights. (Hodson & Bryant, 2012)

1901 In Journal des Voyages, naturalist and sensationalist travel writer Louis Henri Boussenard reported a particularly exciting encounter with a colony of Victoria amazonica;

Unhappily, the base of the corolla is full of insects, contact with whom disgusts me and whose stings I fear… Verycalmly the Indian, who doesn’t partake of my aversion…plunges his arm slowly, up to his shoulder, into the preserved corolla. And almost as swiftly he retracts it, with a quickness that astonishes me in view of his customary apathy. A cry of terror escapes me, and I find myself tremble to the marrow of my bones. Around his wrist and forming a moving bracelet, a small snake twists and unrolls itself with rage… Vivid red with black bands, it bites furiously the thumb of the Indian. Its fangs are deeply implanted in the flesh and its ferocious little eyes sparkle like diamonds. I recognize the terrible élaps, or coral snake, whose bite kills the most vigorous of men in less than an hour…My pallor, my agitation, my offers of help make the Indian shrug his shoulders. With his admirable calm, he seizes with his left hand, between the thumb and index finger, the snake by the base of its head, with a strong grip, he makes it release its bite, smashes it against the wood of the pirogue, and says in his raspy voice. ‘Give me some rum.’” The next day, the Indian awoke: “fresh as a daisy,without the shadow of an ill effect.” (related as a translation by John Luttrell, in Aniśko,2013)

1902 Gottlieb Haberlandt described plant totipotency (which he termed totipotentiality). Haberlandt, G. (1902) Kulturversuche mit isolierten Pflanzenzellen. Sitzungsber. Akad. Wiss. Wien. Math.-Naturwiss. Kl., Abt. J. 111, 69–92.

1902 In March, the first cases of a creeping pellagra epidemic (spreading through the Southeastern US) were diagnosed. This poverty-related disease, described in Spain in the 17th century, first appears as rashes and changes in coloration of skin. Years of work by public health professional Joseph Goldberger demonstrated the condition resulted from dietary over-reliance on corn (maize) – most particularly corn that has not been treated with alkali (search the terms nixtamalization or pellagra). Curiously, in 1912 (the very year Frederik Hopkins demonstrated the importance of vitamins) a commission concluded pellagra was infectious and not diet-related. Only in 1937 was it demonstrated by Conrad Elvehjem that niacin-deficiency causes this disease. (Boutard, 2012) [See Timeline 1937]

1903 Wilson, collecting for Veitch, successfully reintroduced the blue poppy, Meconopsis, to Europe, though his greatest triumph was the introduction of the regal lily, Lilium regale.

1903 H. E. Huntington purchased San Marino Ranch, where he began to create his estate, complete with museum collections and botanical gardens.

1903 Based on their model constructed in 1901, C. W. Hart and C. H. Parr of Iowa City, Iowa, established the first company dedicated exclusively to manufacturing gasoline powered tractors. In 1906 they began calling their machines tractors. By 1950 there were more tractors than horses on American farms. [See 1892] (Rasmussen, 1960)

1903 M. S. Tswett, a Russian botanist, separated chlorophylls a and b as well as carotene and xanthophyll from petroleum ether extract chromatographically, using powdered chalk as the substrate. Chromatography did not become a common technique until the 1930’s. (Morton, 1981)

1903 Having written extensively about her “woman’s acre” (based on her own 40+ years of gardening experience at her farm in Quebec) Annie Jack published The Canadian Garden – A Pocket Help for the Amateur, regarded as the first book on Canadian horticulture. (Wikipedia: Annie Jack, 2017)

1903 Gustaf Komppa resolved and published “total synthesis” of camphor, moving ahead quickly into production. His work is regarded as the first commercialization of a complex organic chemical produced from readily available ingredients. In his time, Camphor (extracted most commonly from the Asian tree Cinnamomum camphora) was an important ingredient in many products, from medicines (such as paregoric) to cooking, pest deterrence, embalming fluids, and even formulation of smokeless gunpowder. (Wikipedia: Camphor, 2017)

1903 New Zealand’s Scenery Preservation Act was passed into law. This Act created the basis for establishing New Zealand’s system of national parks. (Pawson & Brooking, 2002)

1904 Iced tea is said to have been first served at the St. Louis World’s Fair by an enterprising British salesman who realized that fair goers were not attracted to hot tea in summer weather. (Simpson, 1989)

1904 Chestnut blight from Japan was detected in the New York City area, with the first reported case at the Bronx Zoological Park. It is thought the fungal pathogen, Cryphonectria parasitica, arrived with importation of Asian chestnut trees in 1890. This disease quickly advanced to destroy nearly the entire native population of American Chestnut, until that time the largest of eastern trees and one of the most significant forest dominants in the Eastern mixed mesophytic association. (Levetin & McMahon, 1996) Rupp (1990) indicates that the pathogen arrived in 1895 amid a shipment of Chinese chestnut trees that would eventually be planted at the newly founded New York Botanical Garden. Rupp also calculated the loss in lumber alone at $400 billion.

1904 Friedrich Meves (“Über das Vorkommen von Mitochondrien bzw Chondromiten en Pflanzenzellen,” Ber Deutsch. Bot. Ges, 22: 284-286) was the first to report plant mitochondria, while studying tapetal cells of Nymphaea alba anthers. (see W. C. Twiss, 1919. “A Study of Plastids and Mitochondria in Pressia and Corn” American Journal of Botany, 6(6 ) 217-234; Earl H. Newcomer, “Mitochondria in Plants,” 1940. Botanical Review 6(3):85-147 Though observed before 1850, mitochondria were not described as cell organelles until 1894, when Richard Altmann named them bioblasts. In 1898, Carl Benda suggested the term mitochondria. Philip Siekevitz came up with the description of mitochondria as the powerhouse of the cell in 1957. (Wikipedia)

1905 Frederick F. Blackman proposed his concept of “limiting factors” – now called Blackman’s Law of Limiting Factors, which holds that under any combination of circumstances, the rate of photosynthesis will be governed by the slowest step. This resulted from his work in measuring rates of photosynthesis while varying external factors, such as light, temperature, water availability, and gas exchange. (McDonald, 2003)

1905 Prior to general adoption of the term “gene” for a unit of inheritance, Bateson applied the word “genetics” (Gk. genno – to give birth) to the evolving study of heredity and variation. His decision avoided problems that had become associated with the term pangene, (Mukherjee, 2016)

1905 Following years of research (and a well-known public argument with German pathologist Alfred Fischer), Erwin Frink Smith began publication of a series of treatises on bacterial diseases of plants. From Campbell: “Erwin F. Smith had a keen analytical mind and ability to synthesize and evaluate this knowledge, which encompassed the entire field of bacterial plant pathology. His comparative consideration of bacterial plant pathogens culmi nated in his exhaustive three-volume treatise (16, 17, 18) published in 1905, 1911, and 1914. A portion of the material for a fourth volume was in manuscript form at the time of his death, but has not been published. Some of the essential points to have been covered in the fourth volume are included in Smith’s textbook, Bacterial Diseases of Plants (20) published in 1920. Smith dealt with over 100 bacterial diseases of plants in the treatise.“ (C. Lee Campbell, 1983. Erwin Frink Smith – Pioneer Plant Pathologist, Annual Rev.Phytopathol. 21:21-27.)

1906 William Bateson introduced the word “genetics” in a presentation at the 3rd International Conference on Plant Hybridization, in London. He had used the term in private letters the previous year. (Wikipedia)

1906 Pierre du Pont purchased the Pierce house and arboretum, property he would develop as Longwood Gardens. (Griswold & Weller, 1991)

1906 The first county agent, W. C. Stallings began work in Smith County, Texas. Employed to work with farmers to combat the ravages of the boll weevil on the cotton crop, this model was quickly adopted in other Southern states. By 1914 the Smith-Lever Act for cooperative extension had been passed. (Rasmussen, 1960)

1906 In the July issue of Good Housekeeping a Shaker community member recounted the growing of flowers (which for its own sake was proscribed) for economy and industry. One paragraph concerned opium: “We always had extensive poppy beds and early in the morning, before the sun had risen, the white-capped sisters could be seen stooping among the scarlet blossoms to slit those pods from which the petals had just fallen. Again after sundown they came out with little knives to scrape off the dried juice. This crude opium was sold at a large price and its production was one of the most lucrative as well as the most picturesque of our industries.” (Hedrick, 1950)

1906 Kakuzo Okakura published The Book of Tea, noting that “Teaism is Taoism in disguise” (Hohenegger, 2007)

1906 The US Congress approved the Pure Food and Drug Act, partially in response to news published the previous year by reporter Samuel Hopkins Adams. The law required companies to detail ingredients in medicines. (Filan, 2011)

1907 Joel Cheek began building his Nashville, TN-based coffee roasting empire based on his own blend, one he promoted through Nashville’s Maxwell House (a fine hotel) in 1892. Within a few years a second roasting facility had been opened in Houston, TX. By the time Theodore Roosevelt visited Nashville in 1907, the Maxwell House brand had established strong presence in the Southeast. On draining a cup of this coffee, Roosevelt is reported as saying: “Good. Good to the last drop.” (Pendergrast, 1999)

1907 E. A  Newell Arber and John Parkin published “On the Origin of Angiosperms” in the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 38(263): 29–80.

1908 New York tea importer Thomas Sullivan introduced the tea bag as a means of marketing samples. (Pratt, 1982) By 1934, 8 million yards of gauze were used annually to be sewn as tea bags. (Simpson, 1989)

1908 Avocados were planted at San Marino Ranch (today, the Huntington Botanical Gardens), constituting what was apparently the first commercial avocado grove in California.

1908 The United States Department of Agriculture, agencies of numerous states, and Canadian governmental agencies formed the Associations of Official Seed Analysts of North America, with the goal of setting standards for seed testing and instituting laws that would guarantee such standards. (Busch, et al, 1995) [See 1912]

1908 John Burroughs writes of Wordsworth’s A Poet’s Epitaph [see 1800]: “By a close observer, I do not mean a minute, coldblooded specialist – but a man who looks closely at nature, and notes the individual features of tree and rock and field, and allows no subtle flavor of the night or day, of the place and the season, to escape him.” In this same essay, Burroughs observes: “There is nothing in which people differ more than in their powers of observation. Some are only half alive to what is going on around them. Others, again, are keenly alive: their intelligence, their powers of recognition, are in full force in eye and ear at all times.” (Burroughs, 1908, ‘The Art of Seeing Things’, in Leaf and Tendril) (McKibben, 2008)

1908 Frank N. Meyer, an agricultural explorer for the USDA, encountered an especially fruitful, sweet lemon in Fengtai, near Beijing, China. The plant was one of about 2500 selections that Meyer sent back to the US from Asia. Today, the Meyer Lemon is well- known, and a great benefit. (Chris Shott, 5 March 2018. “A Man a Plan, a Lemon, China. The Ballad of Frank Meyer”, in Taste.)

1909 Danish botanist, Wilhelm Johannsen coined the terms “phenotype” and “genotype”in a 1903 publication of his studies of beans and in his 1905 book Arvelighedslaerens Elementer. (Wikipedia) In his 1909 publication, Elemente der exakten Erblichkeitslehre, Johannsen applied the word “gene” to the unit of inheritance. (Mukherjee, 2016)  Gene was preferred as opposed to use of the term “pangene” that originated from Darwin’s ideas of pangenesis. From Mukherjee: “…neither (William) Bateson nor Johannsen had any understanding of what a gene was. They could not fathom its material form, its physical or chemical structure, its location within the body or inside the cell, or even its mechanism of action.  The word was created to mark a function; it was an abstraction.  … defined by what a gene does… a carrier of hereditary information” Also from Mukherjee, a translation from Johannsen: “It is desirable to create new terminology in all cases where new and revised conceptions are being developed. Therefore, I have proposed the word ‘gene’ … a very applicable little word. It may be useful as an expression for the unit factors…demonstrated by modern Mendelianresearchers.”

1909 Dr. Colville and Ms. White begin making crosses to produce the first 18 cultivars of modern blueberries from native stock.

1909 Erwin Baur reported that Pelargonium demonstrates both maternal and paternal chloroplast inheritance and defies laws of Mendelian inheritance. In this same year, Baur presented evidence of lethal genes in Antirrhinum (snapdragon). Baur’s work was cited by Muller in his studies of induced mutation. Based on his observations in Pelargonium, he also is credited for early understanding of extra-nuclear inheritance. He is also considered a Father of Plant Virology. [See An everlasting pioneer: the story of Antirrhinumresearch, Zsuzsanna Schwarz-Sommer, Brendan Davies and Andrew Hudson], in Nature Reviews, Genetics]

1909 Fritz Haber produced ammonia from atmospheric nitrogen. The German chemical company BASF purchased rights to his process and assigned Carl Bosch to create an industrial-scale application. Both Haber (in 1918) and Bosch (in 1931) were awarded Nobel prizes for this work. Commercial production of synthetic ammonia became immediately important when, during WW I, Germany lost access to deposits of sodium nitrate that had become crucial sources of crop fertilizers. (Wikipedia)

1910 The Corn Products Refining Company (subsequently Corn Products Company International) began refining corn oil for cooking, trademarking their product as Mazola. (Fussell, 1992)

1910 The USDA purchased 475 acres of farmland near Beltsville, MD to establish its Agricultural Research Center. Supplementing the 400 acre Arlington Farm which had been established in 1910 (and eventually became the site for the Pentagon), Beltsville grew to over 10,500 acres by 1962. (Hedge, in The Yearbook of Agriculture 1962)

1910 In a total US labor force of 38,167,000, the agricultural labor force constituted 32.5%, or 12,388,000 people. In 1970, the US labor force had risen to 83,049,000 while the portion reportable to agriculture had dropped to 3.4%, or 2,750,000. This change is accountable to introduction of labor-saving devices, such as the tractor. (Williams,1987)

1910 Commissioned by the Carnegie Foundation (at the behest of an educational committeeoftheAmericanMedicalAssociation),theFlexnerReportexaminedthestateof medical training and treatment in the US. The Report suggested a new level of quality as well as a focus on more centralized training and science-based approaches. Numerous schools closed, especially those promoting alternative treatments, such as electrotherapy and homeopathy. Many private medical schools closed,  Chicago, for example, had boasted 14 medical schools, which the Report assessed as “a disgrace to the State whose laws permit its existence… indescribably foul… the plague spot of the nation.” The standards and programming suggested defined the next century of US physician training and placement. (Wikipedia,2018)

1911 Mikhail Tsett noted red autofluorescence of chlorophyll in situ (in the chloroplasts, using a microscope). (Clark & Kasten, 1983)

1910 Konstantin Mereschkowski published (in Russian) The Theory of Two Plasms as the Basis of Symbiogenesis, a New study on the the Origins of Organisms. (Wikipedia, 2015)

1911 A two year famine began in Russia. While people starved and died, the country continued exporting a fifth of its annual grain production (which constituted about 25% of world trade). (Ponting, 1991)

1911 Kudzu was brought to the US from Japan for soil improvement, erosion control, and livestock forage. (Shetler in Viola & Margolis, 1991)

1911 – In this year of his death, FranklinKing’s Farmers of Forty Centuries, or Permanent Agriculture in China, Korea, and Japan was published. After a long career in University research, King had been hired (in 1902) by the USDA to head the Division of Soil Management. When it became obvious that his ideas regarding soil nutrients and chemistry were at odds with standard dogma, King was pressured to resign This book recounts King’s observations during a 1909 tour of Asia, and documents his thoughts as to sustainable agriculture. (King is also noted as the originator of the cylindrical silo.) (Wikipedia, 2016)

1911 Emiliano Zapata led his Mexican revolution based on the Plan de Ayala, in which he demanded return of land control to working people, taken ownership and management from large landowners and governmental intelligentsia (cientificos).

1911 Jantina Tammes was awarded an honorary doctorate, in recognition of her significant contributions to plant variability, evolution, and genetics. (Wikipedia, 2018)

1911 Hans Stübel is credited with reporting the first useful application of fluorescence microscopy. Austrian Pharmacognosist R. Wasicky reported observations of distinctive fluorescent propertics in pulverized cocoa bean chicory roots and ergot-infected flour. He predicted this technique would become useful for localizing certain compounds in cells. S. von Provazek introduced use of fluorescent dyes in 1914. By the early 1930s, much better equipment and techniques were available. (Clark and Kasten, 1983)

1912 Ballod calculated that a US standard of life would support 2.333 billion people on Earth, a German standard would allow 5.6 billion, and a Japanese standard could underwrite 22.4 billion people. (Cohen, 1995)

1912 The GooGoo Cluster, a chocolate, caramel, & peanut candy, was created in Nashville, TN. (Levetin & McMahon, 1996)

1912 Tokyo gave cherry trees to be planted in Washington, DC. (Camp, Boswell, & Magness, 1957)

1912 Frederick Hopkins showed that there were chemical substances (additional to fats, carbohydrates, and minerals) obtained from food that are essential to human growth and maintenance. Casimir Funk termed these substances “vitamines.” (Visser, 1986)

1912 The United States Seed Importation Act established legal standards for seed in the marketplace. The law also controlled noxious weeds and varietal seed mixes. (Busch, et al, 1995) [See 1908]

1913 With three wheels attached integrally to the engine housing, the Wallace Cub became the first frameless tractor. (Schlebecker, 1975)

1913 Joyce Kilmer published his short poem “Trees” in the August edition of Poetry: A Magazine of Verse. The poem appeared in 1914 in collection titled Trees and Other Poems. The poem became widely-known as anthem to a growing movement to plant and preserve shade trees.

1913 In her small book, Rustic Speech and Folk-lore, Elizabeth Wright first documents use of the phrase: “An apple a day keeps the doctoraway.”

1913 In order to control production and pricing of Quinine, the Kina Bureau was established in the Netherlands. Though native to South America, Cinchona seed hadbeen collected and introduced to tropical colonies around the world. The most productive regions were in Dutch-controlled Dutch East Indies, which allowed the Kina Bureau to gain control of world production by 1918. In an effort to break this control, the US Government prosecuted the Kina Bureau in 1927, but no real impact came of this action and the Bureau retained control of Cinchona. (Shah,2010)

1913 Gottlieb Haberlandt is credited with first describing factors extracted from plant phloem that promote cell division (later understood to be the cytokinins). (History of Cytokinins, website of the International Plant Growth Substances Association,2018))

1914 Aimed primarily at opiates, the US Congress approved the Harrison Act, which required manufactures and providers to maintain records of narcotics prescribed and dispensed. The first US law to control opiates had been set as a San Francisco ordinance in 1875. (Falin, 2011) [See Pure Food and Drug Act, 1906; Prohibition, 1919]

1914 George Harrison Shull introduced the term “heterosis” to denote the hybrid vigor he began to document in his1908 publication “The Composition of a Field of Maize”. (James

F. Crow, 1998. 90 Years Ago: The Beginning of Hybrid Maize, GENETICS March 1, 1998 vol. 148(3) 923-928 – available on the WWW)

1914 On the eve of Prohibition, many towns in California had passed ordinances outlawing alcohol (Pasadena was the first in the state, in 1876, even before incorporation as a city). Pomona was tardy in this regard, but did get there. From the January, 1914, Pacific Wine and Spirit Review, we have this amusing report:  “The prohibitionists of Pomona are still in a quandary over the interpretation of their ordinance which provides that alcoholic liquors shall be used for scientific purposes only. One of the effects of the ordinance is the replenishment of the the scientific chests of many families of Pomona. While clubs and similar organizations are not allowed to keep alcoholic liquors for scientific purposes, families are free to make demonstrations of the scientific value of alcohol by inviting guests to make bibulous analyses of the contents of brown, black and green bottles. The prohibitionists are now thinking of prohibiting science in Pomona.” (Pinney, 2017)

1915 Charles Bessey formalized his Dicta in the article The Phylogenetic Taxonomy of Flowering Plants, Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden, 2:109-164. [see Reader for text and description]

1915 Richard Martin Willstätter was awarded the Nobel Prize for his work with plant pigments, particularly chlorophyll. AfterWWI, Willstätter continued his work in biological chemistry, investigating the synthesis of cocaine and the nature of enzymes. By WWII, Willstätter suffered the isolation and persecution of so many other Jewish German scientists and eventually emigrated to Switzerland. At one point during the war, gestapo agents were sent to Willstätter’s home to arrest him: “He was in his garden at the time, however, and the gestapo did not think to look for him there.” (Cobb & Goldwhite,1995)

1916 Corn borer arrived in the US. Note that in Stephen Vincent Benet’s The Devil and Daniel Webster, Jabez Stone lost his corn crop to corn borers, even though Daniel Webster had died in 1852, 64 years before the arrival of corn borer. (Root, 1980)

1916 Youth Farm Clubs, established during World War I, concentrated on the tomato as a crop, helping to popularize this fruit. (Root, 1980)

1916 The US Government established The National Park Service. It’s mission (2017): The National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. The Park Service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world. (The NPS website)

1916 A publication by Lennart von Post is recognized as the beginning of palynology as a field of study. (Kevin J. Edwards, Pollen, women, war and other things: reflections on the history of palynology, 2017, Veget Hist Archaeobo (PDF Download Available from:

1917 Nikolai Vavilov assumed leadership of seed and crop development resources for the Soviet Union (in the same year as the Bolshevik revolution.) Vavilov led a massive enterprise dedicated to collecting and storing landraces of important crop plants. His work and philosophy fell victim to politically expedient theories advanced by Trofim Lysenko, such that Vavilov was arrested in 1940 (the beginning of the Stalinist era) and charged with conspiring against communist social order. Convicted to a death sentence (later commuted to life in prison), Vavilov died in prison in 1943. (Thompson, 2010)

1917 Knibbs calculated that (exclusive of the Arctic and Antarctic) with a land area of 33 billion acres, Earth could yield 752.4 trillion bushels of corn, which could support a population of 132 billion. (Cohen, 1995)

1917 Ford’s Fordson tractor was introduced at price of $397. (Fussell, 1992)

1918 Through studying a special tobacco plant with tardy flowering habits, W. W. Garner and H. A. Allard opened the field of daylength studies – a phenomenon they named “photoperiodism.’ (Borthwick, in The Yearbook of Agriculture 1962)

1918 With pathologists having identified Barberry as the alternate host in the Wheat Rust lifecycle, serious crop loss due to spread of the disease, and the US in the heady days of WWI, a Barberry Eradication Campaign was launched. From Peterson: “Worse than merely worthless as an ornamental, the barberry had become a dangerous foreign enemy. War-time propaganda posters in 1918 proclaimed “the common barberry the Kaiser’sKin and Ally.” The failure to get behind compulsory eradication was branded as anti- American. A press release issued in South Dakota in April, 1918, described the bush as “pro-German,” and warned that “it is decidedly disloyal to allow the common barberry bush to live − it must be treated as a dangerous enemy alien.” Eradication officials also linked the bush to other contemporary causes of national anxiety, like the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the Red Scare that followed in the US. Playing on the nation-wide anti-radical hysteria, eradication officials branded the common barberry as a“red-handed anarchist of the grain field”. (WWW, search: “The Barberry or Bread”: The Public Campaign to Eradicate Common Barberry in the United States in the Early 20th Century, by P. D. Peterson, APS Historian, 2013)

1919 The 18th Amendment to the US Constitution initiated a period of alcohol prohibition. The nearly 14-year period of prohibition caused great hardship for US vineyards and other growers and producers in the large beer, wine, and liquor industry. The language: “The manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.” Terms under which the amendment would be interpreted and enforced were dictated by the Volstead Act. These new circumstances ushered in a period of home winemaking. By 1933, California bonded wineries numbered 177, as compared to 694 that were in operation in 1922. (Pinney, 2017)

1919 The publication of Inbreeding and Outbreedingby E. M. East and D. F. Jones gave scientific underpinnings to corn breeding and introduced Jones’s system of double crossing through the use of four inbred lines. This work, fostered by the US Experiment Station system, was one of the most significant early accomplishments of modern agricultural science. (Rasmussen, 1960)

1919 Working at Cornell, James B. Sumner extracted and isolated the protein concanavalin A fromCanavalia ensiformis (Jackbean). Concanavalin A has the capacity to cause red blood cells to stick together (agglutinate). (History of lectins: from hemagglutinins to biological recognition molecules (Sharon Nathan and Halina Lis, 2004. “History of lectins: from hemagglutinins to biological recognition molecules” Glycobiology, 14 (11) 53–62.)

1919 England, Australia, and New Zealand acquired control of Nauru Island, a phosphate- rich guano island. Access to abundant phosphate fertilizer made development of Aerial Topdressing possible. [see TimeLine, New Zealand, 1949] Guano mining created great wealth, but has left 80% of Nauru Island unusable. (Wikipedia: Aerial Topdressing, 2017)

1920 The American Orchid Society began, its first organizational meeting held on 25 March at Horticultural Hall, Boston, Massachusetts. (Reinikka, 1972)

1920 USDA researchers Wightman Garner and Harry Allard published Effect of the relative length of day and night and other factors of the environment on growth and reproduction in plants. Studies reported in this paper gave birth to the incredibly significant study and on-going explanation of photoperiodism (a word suggested by O. F. Cook and introduced by Garner) – altering our fundamental understanding of plant response and impacting agriculture and horticulture in significant ways. (Sage, 1992)

1920 Francis Alonzo Bartlett consolidated smaller companies and founded F. A. Bartlett Tree expert Company. As with the Davey Tree Expert Company, Bartlett’s new firm included its own school, which Bartlett had established in 1913. (Campana, 1999)

1920 French chemists Pierre Joseph Pelletier and Joseph Bienaimé Caventou isolated the terpenoid Quinine, naming it based on the indigenous Incan term quina for this bark and distinguishing the compound from cholchicine (epiquinine). (Wikipedia, 2017)

1920 D. H. Lawrence published Women in Love, teaching some botany while delving into sexual innuendo. “For Lawrence, this life force manifests most powerfully in botanical reproduction, the invisibly persistent generation of flowers, nuts, and leaves.” Anna Deters ( From Women in Love:

‘Do you know the little red ovary flowers, that produce the nuts? Have you ever noticed them?‘ he asked her. And he came close and pointed them out to her, on the sprig of hazel she held.
No,‘ she replied. ‘What are they?
‘Those are the little seed-producing flowers, and the long catkins, they only produce pollen, to fertilise them.‘
Do they, do they!’ repeated Hermione, looking closely.
‘From those little red bits, the nuts come; if they receive pollen from the long danglers.‘/‘Little red flames, little red flames,’ murmured Hermione to herself. And she remained for some moments looking only at the small buds out of which the red flickers of the stigma issued.
Aren’t they beautiful? I think they’re so beautiful,‘ she said, moving close to Birkin, and pointing to the red filaments with her long, white finger.
‘Had you never noticed them before?‘ he asked. ‘No, never before,‘ she replied.
‘And now you will always see them,‘ he said
‘Now I shall always see them,’ she repeated. ‘Thank you so much for showing me. I think they’re so beautiful — little red flames —’
... and later... ‘Would you rather, for yourself, know or not know, that the little red flowers are there, putting out for the pollen?’

In An Island, Lawrence leans on oak rather than hazel: “…mankind is a dead tree, covered with fine brilliant galls of people.”

1921 George Washington Carver appeared before the US Congressional Ways and Means Committee, promoting a protective tariff on peanuts. He demonstrated the many potential products/uses of peanuts and came away from the meeting with national fame. Due to his promotional efforts, the peanut is a major crop in the Southeastern coastal plain today – and peanut butter has become an American classic. (Isely, 1994) [see 1890]

1921 Graduate student Maria Beatrice Schwarz isolated the Ascomycete Ophostoma (Graphium) ulmi as the causative fungal agent of Dutch Elm Disease. Her work was confirmed by Christine Buisman in 1929, a study followed two years later by work of J. J. Franzen proving the vector was the European elm bark beetle. (Campana 1999)

1921 Quoting George W. Gurney, of Yankton, SD: “Sometime when you have nothing else to do, plant a tree. It will be growing while you sleep.” (Adams, 2004)

1922 W. J. Robbins initiated plant tissue culture studies. ©. Zirkle in Ewan, 1969)

1922 Knudson published his asymbiotic method of seed germination; “Nonsymbiotic Germination of Orchid Seeds” in Botanical Gazette. This technique revolutionized the propagation of orchids, both sexually and vegetatively. It led to techniques of mericloning and meristemming that are used widely for production of many horticultural crops today.

1922 Seven US states agreed to the Colorado River Compact, allocating water rights for the Upper Division (Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico) and the Lower Division (Nevada, California, Arizona) of the Colorado River drainage basin. Assuming an average flow of 16.4 million acre-feet of water, each Division assumed availability of 7.5 million acre-feet of water to be shared among the parties. The Compact also assumes 1.5 million acre-feet of water would remain for use by Mexico. The total 16.5 million acre-feet leaves no flow to enter the Pacific Ocean. A 2012 Amendment (MInute 319) addresses the failure of water flows to reach expectations, and basis allocations to Mexico on water levels at Lake Meade. (Wikipedia, 2018)

1923 Otto Warburg (working successively with many associates) published one of many important works on photosynthesis in the alga Chlorella, work he apparently began in 1919. In these early studies, Warburg observed that photosynthesis could be inhibited by high oxygen concentrations – called the Warburg Effect. (McDonald, 2003). His work with Chlorella would continue over several decades, but merely as punctuation in other much more critically-acclaimed research in human physiology and oncology. A brilliant researcher, Warburg’s life and works should be more commonly known among the community of scientists.

1923 Accompanied by a microscope demonstration, Robert Feulgen reported his “nucleal reaction” and “nucleal staining” to the 8th German Physiology Congress, which met in Türbingen. Feulgen had successfully used staining procedures to localize differing components of nucleic acids – aldehyde groups and pentose components. Now termed the Feulgen Reaction, a vibrant red-violet stain for DNA. The Feulgen reaction is considered the first “end-point type reaction” – which would brand Robert Feulgen as “the firstmodern histochemist.” Beyond introducing an important staining technique, this demonstration eliminated previously-existing ideas that plant DNA differed from animal DNA. From a 1956 presentation by Kurt Felix (who had attended the 1923 presentation): “In all preparations the nuclei were stained red-violet.  The exciting finding for us was the reaction of not only the nuclei of animal cells, but rather also those of plant cells. With this demonstration, the difference between plant and animal nucleic acids ceased to exist. All cells contained in their nuclei the same kind of nucleic acid which we refer to today as deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA.” (Clark & Kasten, 1983)

1923 Publication of Botanical Pen-portraits, by Jan Willem Moll and Hindrik Haijo Janssonius.

1924 International Harvester Company introduced their gasoline powered tractor, the Farmall, which was fitted with removable attachments. (Fussell, 1992)

1924 Frank Kingdon-Ward, tracing routes of plantsmen through southern Tibet, collected seed of the famous blue poppy, Mecanopsis betonicifolia. He described the flowers to be “as dazzling as sapphires.” The plant became a sensation with its first cultivated flowering in London and Glasgow parks in 1927. (Grimshaw, 1998)

1924 Through a series of lectures on the future of agriculture, Rudolf Steiner established the concept of biodynamic farming. Author, spiritualist, philosopher and co-founder of the Anthroposophical Society, Steiner was heavily influenced by Goethe’s phenomenological approach to science (through having worked with the Goethe archive as a young man). (Wikipedia, 2016)

1924 With William E. Britton and Francis A. Bartlett as significant players, The Shade TreeConference (STC) met in Stanford Connecticut, at the invitation of the Connecticut Tree Protective Association. By 1928, activity in the STC led to the 1928 formation of the National Shade Tree Conference. In 1975 the Conference reinvented itself as the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). (Campana, 1999)

1924 “At Whitsun, Rudolf Steiner held lectures entitled “Spiritual foundations for the renewal of Agriculture” at Koberwitz, Silesia. The Experimental Circle of Anthroposophical Farmers immediately tested Steiner’s indications in daily farming practice. “(Demeter International Website) (Bizarre Stuff) From Wikipedia, Rudolf Steiner, 2018: “A central aspect of biodynamics is that the farm as a whole is seen as an organism, and therefore should be a largely self-sustaining system, producing its own manure and animal feed. Plant or animal disease is seen as a symptom of problems in the whole organism. Steiner also suggested timing such agricultural activities as sowing, weeding, and harvesting to utilize the influences on plant growth of the moon and planets; and the application of natural materials preparedin specific ways to the soil, compost, and crops, with the intention of engaging non-physical beings and elemental forces. He encouraged his listeners to verify his suggestions empirically, as he had not yet done.” And, at the Demeter International website, (2018) you will find this interesting statement:

“Biodynamic farming is a holistic approach to agriculture in which vitality has the highest priority. Its origin lies in the agricultural course held by Rudolf Steiner in 1924.

Biodynamic farmers return more to the soil than they remove in the process of cultivating crops and animals; the farm is considered as an organism in which plants, animals and human beings are integrated together. The significant difference is that the Biodynamic method attempts to work with the dynamic energies in nature and not solely with its material needs. One aspect of this is the use of cosmic rhythms, for instance cultivation, sowing and harvesting are scheduled if possible on favourable days. “

1924 “Life Is Bottled Sunshine” (Wynwood Reade, Martyrdom of Man)

1925 The Los Angeles-based Armacost and Royston nursery acquired seed of Saintpaulia (African violets) from Europe. From a thousand seedlings, a very few were selected. One of their introductions, ‘Blue Boy’ became an important parent for future development of African violet cultivars, giving red and pink seedlings, and even yielding a sport with double flowers. (Grimshaw, 1998) [See 1882]

1925 New Zealand’s Director of Forests, Leon McIntosh Ellis, announced an afforestation target for planting 300,000 acres in non-native trees, principally Pinus radiata (Monterey Pine). Pawson & Brooking, Ch 12, 2002) According to Wikipedia (2017), Monterey Pine was first introduced to New Zealand in 1959, and 2017, 89% of New Zealand’s plantation forest were of this species.

1926 Scientists began to formulate genetic solutions to long-known plant problems. In this year East and Manglesdorf resolved the issue of self-sterility in Nicotiana. Filzer and Lehmann conducted similar studies of Veronica. ©. (Zirkle in Ewan, 1969)

1926 Working in Germany, Adreas Stihl developed what seems to have been the first portable chainsaw. The 140 pound device required two people for operation, but it proved incredibly successful. Over 40,000 were sold within 7 years. (Campana, 1999)

1926 John Belling published “The iron-acetocarmine method of fixing and staining chromosomes” in Biol. Bulletin 50:1160-162. Studying chromosomes in a range of plants (Canna, CypripediumHemerocallis, and many other monocots), Belling improved aceto- carmine staining by adding iron (even simply using a rusty probe will work), which resulted strong differentiation between chromosomes and cytoplasm. (George Clark and Frederick Kasten, 1983)

1926 James Sumner extracted, purified, and crystallized urease, the first enzyme to be purified and characterized. Sumner’s work demonstrated that enzymes are proteins. (Sekeres & Zarsky, in Sahi and Baluska, 2018)

1927 H. J. Muller (whose main work was with fruit flies) exposed plant seed to X-rays in order to induce mutations. Muller had stated as early as 1916 the ability to induce mutations was the key to managing the process of evolution (through creating greater genetic variation in populations). Because he was using lethal doses of radiation, Muller called this new science necromancy. (Sackman, 2005) Of course, necromancy historically describes activities (such as witchcraft and magic) that claim to communicate with the dead. The term does not seem to remained in currency for the use of x-rays in creating mutations.

1927 A Congressional bill directed the Secretary of Agriculture “to establish and maintain a national arboretum for purposes of research and education concerning tree and plant life.” (Skinner, in The Yearbook of Agriculture 1962)

1927 The first patent for a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) was filed in Germany, but decades would pass before workable instruments were commercially available (Cambridge Scientific Instrument Company, 1965). Those instruments gave magnifications of 10 to 200,000 times life size with magnificent depth of field, 500 times that of light microscopy. The earliest botanical observations using SEM were published between 1965 and 1970, with large numbers of applications and publications appearing over the next decade.

Initially, the technique proved most useful for surface structure, but anatomists quickly worked this into their research.. Margaret Y. Stant , 1973. “The Role of the Scanning Electron Microscope in Plant Anatomy” Kew Bulletin, Vol. 28, No. 1 (1973), pp. 105-115, Source JSTOR Kew Stable URL:

1927 Using light microscopy, C. Zirkle demonstrated that chloroplasts develop from clear proplastids. (L. Andrew Staehelin, 2005. “Chloroplast structure: from chlorophyll granules to supra-molecular architecture of thylakoid membranes”, pp 717-728 in Discoveries in Photosynthesis

1928 H. V. Harlan (Harry Vaugh Harlan) established a “de-domestication” trial for barley at UC Davis, using hybrids between seed of 28 high-yielding barley strains available atthat time. The trial (called CC II) was still running at Davis in 1992.  [see also J. R. Harlan, One man’s life with barley, the memories and observations of Harry V. Harlan, 1957; J. R. Harlan in Chapman, 1992, Grass Evolution and Domestication, page164]

1928 Following similar work with Drosophila, Stadler used X-rays to produce mutations in corn (Zea mays). ©.( Zirkle in Ewan, 1969)

1928 Asplundh Tree Expert Company was established by brothers Carl, Griffith, and Lester Asplundh. Specializing initially in work related to power lines, Asplundh, the company established its own training school and developed technical improvements that led to a dominant position in the arboriculture industry. (Campana, 1999)

1929 Geographer Joseph Russell Smith published Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture. His book suggested systems of agriculture that might use understory cropping of long-lived forests. His book inspired the life and works of humanitarian Toyohiko Kagawa.

1929 The Cactus and Succulent Society of America was founded in Southern California, with N. L. Britton as Honorary President, A. D. Houghton as President, and Scott Haselton as Editor. The society published its first journal issue in July as “A monthly magazine devoted exclusively to Cacti and Succulents for the dissemination of knowledge and the recording of hitherto unpublished data in order that the culture and the study of these particular plants may attain the popularity which is justly theirs.” (J. CSSA, 1929:1(1)

1930 US Census data suggested that of 12 food groups, consumption of dry beans was the only practice that increased at inverse proportion to income (i.e. wealthier people rely less on dried beans for sustenance). In other food groups, consumption either remained the same or increased with family income. (Kaplan & Kaplan in Foster & Cordell, 1996)

1930 The Sanforizer Company introduced an ammonia-based process, devised by Sanford Cluett, that causes cotton fibers to swell, preventing shrinkage when washed. (OED)

1930 Vita Sackville-West and her husband, Harold Nicolson, purchased Sissinghurst Castle and the surrounding 10 acres. Together they began creating their famous garden of rooms. Most noted and imitated among the many plantings has been the white garden. (Grimshaw, 1998)

1930 The Plant Patent Act became part of US law, codifying the concept that people could “stake claims to living matter.” Within ten years, at least 350 plant patents had been granted. (Sackman, 2005)

1930 Dutch Elm Disease (DED), which had reaped major damage in Europe over the previous decade, was first detected on the native Ulmus americana in Cleveland, Ohio, by arborist Charles Irish.. Now considered “the most serious tree disease in the history of North American arboriculture,” researchers eventually determined the disease arrived in European-sourced logs of the Ulmus procera burl form (called Carpathian elm), which are highly prized for furniture manufacture. This source was confirmed in 1933 by interception of additional log shipments in Norfolk, Baltimore, and New Orleans. (Campana, 1999)

1930 With refinement in their preferred strain of perennial ryegrass, Bruce Levy and William Davies initiated New Zealand’s ryegrass certification. Levy, a “grasslands evangelist” wrote extensively and spoke convincingly about pasture, winning over New Zealand farmers, and helping to initiate the country’s “grasslands revolution.” (Brooking and Pawson, 2011)

1930 Clarence Birdseye was granted a patent for his methods of flash freezing, leading to development of boxed, frozen vegetables. By 1944, Birdseye was shipping frozen food nation-wide. (Clampitt, 2015)

1930 Jerome Irving Rodale established Rodale Press, later establishing his Pennsylvania organic farm.

1931 A. F. Blakeslee delved into differing human sensitivities to plant fragrances and taste. From his obituary by Edmund Sinnot, “Blakeslee’s interests were so wide that he was continually exploring other problems. Notable among these was the geneticsof taste. In 1917 he had noticed that a pink-flowering Verbenaplant which had a pleasant odor to him was without odor to his assistant, and that a red one which was odorless to him was fragrant to his assistant. He began to watch for differences in olfactory acuteness and then in taste. In 1931 he discovered that there were sharp differences among people in their ability to taste various chemical substances, notably phenyl-thio-carbamide ( P T C ) To some this was tasteless but to many others very bitter,and individual sensory thresholds to concentrations of it were markedly different. Furthermore, the ability to taste it seemed to be inherited. This interested Blakeslee intensely, not only from a genetic viewpoint but also because of its bearing on fundamental human differences in reaction to the outside world. At several meetings of scientific associations he set up a little booth where hundreds of people were tested for their PTC reactions, and gathered some very interesting data.” Sinnot adds: “In a very readable paper, “Teachers Talk too Much,” he described a chapel talk he gave at Smith on the function of a college education. At its conclusion he distributed slips of paper impregnated with PTC and asked each student to taste one. This created a mild sensation, for the young ladies found that a substance violently bitter to some had no taste at all to others. This did more to convince the girls of the existence of genetic variability in the human species than any amount of talking. Few students—or faculty members—remembered long what he had said in his talk, but they never forgot the taste test.”

1932 Following the Great Hunger of 1921, the Soviet Union nationalized food production in kolkhozes (collective farms). To control inadequate resources during protracted food rationing, the Soviet Union Central Executive Committee and Council of People’s Commissars enacted a law prohibiting harvesting (theft) from fields at all levels, including gleaning of residue. Having been finalized on 7 August, the law was sometimes called the “Seven-Eight law,” or alternatively the “Law of Three Spikelets.” (Tatiana Voronina, Chapter 3 “From Soviet Cuisine to Kremlin Diet: Changes in Consumption and Lifestyle in Twentieth-Century Russia” inOddy, Atkins, & Amilien, 2016, The Rise of Obesity in Europe – A Twentieth Century Food History, Routledge, London, electronic book; also Wikipedia, 2019)

1932 Allis-Chalmers introduced rubber, pneumatic tires for their tractors, offering by 1934 a tractor designed specifically for those tires. By 1939, 90% of the tractors manufactured had pneumatic tires. (Williams, 1987)

1932 On a mid-July day in San Antonio, Tx, Charles Elmer Doolin responded to an offer by Gustavo Olguin to acquire a recipe and rights to a process for making and marketing fried corn chips. By September, Doolin established the Frito Company and began manufacturing and distributing his Fritos chips. He developed and patented better processes, and worked with specialists to bred a proprietary strain of corn used to make Fritos. (Wikipedia, 2018)

1933 The US National Recovery Act and Emergency Relief Act (the WPA, Works Progress Administration) led to employment of 18 million workers in a range of national projects, including many environmental investments such as tree planting and development of national parks. (Campana, 1999)

1933 Investigators identified 677 trees stricken with Dutch Elm Disease in the New York area. Twelve years later, over 6 million diseased trees had been discovered and destroyed. Eradication efforts through 1940 seemed to control spread, but federal funding for those efforts was dropped during WW II, which allowed the disease to spread throughout the native and planted range of American elm. Because American elm had been the most commonly planted street tree in North America, the near complete loss of elms due to disease destroyed urban forests throughout the continent. (Campana, 1999)

1934 Data from Los Angeles show that nearly a third (1,500) of the Japanese American working population in the city (5,125 people) were gardeners. At this time, over 50% of workers in the West Coast Japanese American population were involved in the green industry (gardening, nurseries, orchards, truck farming, agriculture, supporting businesses). (Helphand, 2006)

1934 A major windstorm in the plains states removed 350 million tons of topsoil, scattering it over the eastern US and out into the Atlantic. It is estimated that 12 million tons fell on Chicago. The storms continued and by 1938 the top five inches of soil had been removed from 10,000,000 acres of land. In that year 850 million tons of soil were lost. By 1938, 3.5 million people had abandoned farms on the great plains. One fifth of Oklahoma’s population moved to other states. (Ponting, 1991)

1934 New Zealand passed The Native Plant Protection Act, by which taking protected native plants from public property and private lands constitutes an offense. According to Nicola Wheen, that cover most native plants, but enforcement is uneven and inconsequential. (Pawson & Brooking, 2002) If people should increasingly reject exotic plants and move to greater use of native plants, one wonders if controls such as these mean the general use of plants will be prohibited.

1935 Analysis by botanist A. Koehler demonstrated that a homemade wooden ladder used during the abduction (resulting in murder) of the son of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh was made from the same wooden planks that floored Bruno Hauptmann’s attic. Hauptmann was convicted of this crime. (Levetin & McMahon, 1996)

1935 William Ukers published All About Tea, a comprehensive study that remains a landmark. (Hohenegger, 2007)

1935 The Rural Electrification Administration (REA) was created through executive order by President F. D. Roosevelt, receiving Congressional authority the following year through passage of the Rural Electrification Act. REA offered loans to cooperatives and power districts in order to finance distribution, transmission, and generation of power to rural areas. In 1935 approximately one in ten US farms received electricity; by 1962 electricity was supplied to more than 97% of US farms. (Kelly, in The Yearbook of Agriculture 1962)

1935 News media proclaimed 14 April a “Black Sunday” – a particularly bleak day in a series of duststorms that impacted the Western US (most particularly Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle) as result of drought and overgrazing. That Sunday storm led to reporter Robert L. Geiger‘s famous labelling of the region as the Dust Bowl. Within two weeks of the storm, the US Congress responded through creating the USDA Soil Conservation Service (expanding the Soil Erosion Service, which had been established in 1933). (McKibben, 2008; Wikipedia, 2017)

1936 USDA entomologists Hurd-Karrer and Poos discovered that selenium applied to roots of wheat plants could kill aphids feeding on the leaves. By 1945 selenium was used commercially (applied with fertilizer) to control spider mites in carnations and chrysanthemums. (Reed, Bushland, & Eddy, in The Yearbook of Agriculture 1962)

1936 From Punch, a verse on the sweets of science references research on the biochemistry of dye plants:

"Modern painters in their fervour
Seek to startle the observer
By reliance on their peacock hued appeals
But I find more consolation
n the dusty rubrication
Which the background of the galaxies reveals
And though rare sweets and ices
Compounded at highprices
A transitory rapture may impart
The glycosides of madder
Make me infinitely gladder
And rejoice the inmost cockles of my heart." (O. Morton, 2008)

1936 Walter Emery excavated the tomb of Hemaka, who is said to have been the chancellor and seal-bearer to Pharaoh Den (the First Dynasty, 2850 BC). In the tomb were two unused papyrus scrolls, which are said to be there earliest known samples of paper made from papyrus. [see 2850 BC] (Gaudet, 2014)

1936 Mikhail Chailakhyan proposed the hormone florigen as a factor he believed was manufactured in leaves and migrated to stem tips to promote flowering. The concept developed based on observations that stems could be induced to flower by grafting them to stems that had already been exposed to inducing conditions. (Hodson & Bryant, 2012) Over several decades, no solid evidence has surfaced to support the existence or character of such a hormone. Workin Arabidopsis now suggests the FT protein (Floral Locus T protein) represents the inducing factor Chailakhyan termed florigen. Wikipedia(2018), incorrectly, indicates the year to be1937.

1937 The Nobel Prize was awarded to Albert Szent-Gyögyi, the first person to isolate vitamin C. He extracted it from paprika. [See 1747] (Levetin & McMahon, 1996)

1937 Conrad Elvehjem isolated Niacin (nicotinic acid) and proved that niacin-deficiency causes pellagra (Wikipedia) [See 1902]

1937 The Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act provided loans for US farm workers to purchase their own lands. It also created a land conservation program that supported the retirement/purchase of marginal farmland, some acreage of which was added to the national forest system. (A. S., in The Yearbook of Agriculture 1962)

1937 George Russell of York, England, exhibited his lupines (spelled “lupins” in England), the product of years of hybridizing and selection. When Russell began his work in 1911, lupines had been known to horticulture for over a century, beginning with introduction of plants from the North American collection efforts of David Douglas (who sent seed of 23 species of Lupinus to his employers at London’s Royal Horticulture Society in 1825). (Grimshaw, 1998)

1937 Robin Hill conclusively demonstrated that oxygen generated during photosynthesis (now called the Hill Reaction) does not require the presence of carbon dioxide. Hill’s studies furthered work by T. W. Englemann, who in 1883 had demonstrated that chloroplasts of the alga Spirogya generate oxygen most actively when exposed to red and blue light. By 1941, C.B. van Niel, Samuel Ruben, and co-workers had demonstrated that oxygen liberated during photosynthesis comes from the splitting of water. (McDonald, 2003)

1937 American botanist Albert Francis Blakeslee described the use of colchicine in doubling chromosome numbers of plants through impacting chromosomal separation during meiosis. This technique has had significant impact on plant studies and plant breeding. (“Redoublement du nombre de chromosomes chez les plantes par traitement chimque.” Comptes-rendu, Académie des Sciences, Paris 204: 476-479; see also: Blakeslee and Avery, “Colchicine and Double Diploids”, Journal of Heredity, 28(12): 411–412,  1 December 1937  – and reference to misleading publicity concerning Colchicine by the HearstNewspapers….

1938 Szent-Gyögyi withdrew his suggestion that “citrin” (now known to be various flavonoids), which was present along with vitamin C in citrus peels, could help maintain small blood vessels. These bioflavonoids were termed Vitamin P, and became the subject of much discussion. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has proclaimed that bioflavonoids are neither vitamins nor of nutritional value (Visser, 1986)

1938 Ehrenfried Pfeiffer published his Bio-Dynamic Farming and Gardening. Having begun work with Rudolf Steiner, Pfeiffer came to manage Loverendale farm, an experimental biodynamic project in Domburg, Netherlands. This work was coordinated through the Goetheanum (the world center for the Anthroposophical movement in Dornach, Switzerland), a center named for Goethe, with a building designed by Rudolf Steiner. Later in life, Pfeiffer immigrated to the US to work at Hahnemann Medical College (based on his research in blood testing). Once in the US, he remained involved in biodynamic farming through the Kimberton Farm School (near Philadelphia). Pfeiffer knew and collaborated with J. I. Rodale, founder of the US organic gardening movement. He combined both science and emotion, consulting with Rachel Carson based on his studies of DDT on one hand, while promoting experimental methods to document the etheric body (or aura) that underlies Theosophical concepts of human existence. (Wikipedia, 2016)

1938 DDT, a chlorinated hydrocarbon formulated by Othman Zeidler in 1873, was re- introduced as an insecticide by Paul Mueller, a chemist working for J. R. Geigy in Switzerland. The chemical was used to combat Colorado potato beetle, and gained significant use during World War (as a treatment for the body louse, which transmits typhus). (Campana, 1999)

1939 Swiss chemist Paul Müller discovered the insecticidal qualities of DDT, a compound first synthesized by German chemist Othmar Zeidler in 1874. [See 1972] (Busbey, in The Yearbook of Agriculture 1962)

1939 The first commercial Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM) was available. Work on this concept began a decade earlier with efforts of Ernst Ruska and Max Knoll. Ruska was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1986 for his role in TEM.

1940 Steroids discovered in yam (Dioscorea) proved useful for the manufacture of cortisone and sexual hormones. Consequently, the cost of hormones dropped from $80 to $2 per gram. [See 1956] (Heiser, 1981) This was amplified through the work of Russell Marker, who while assigned to study steroids during a research fellowship at Pennsylvania State University discovered he could manufacture progesterone from steroids in the yam. Unable to receive support to further this work, he moved to Mexico City and formed a joint venture named Syntex. Though Marker abandoned his research, Syntex continued work with other chemists. Eventually Syntex manufactured testosterone and 19-norprogesterone, an analog of progesterone that was even more effective at inhibiting ovulation. Administered in an oral version, this became “The Pill.” (Cobb & Goldwhite, 1995) [See 1956]

1940 Look to the Land was published. Written by Walter Ernest Christopher James (who coined the term Organic Gardening), the book advances ecosystem-based ideas for farming. James had long been involved with the biodynamic farming movement through association with Ehrenfried Pfeiffer, and had hosted the Betteshanger Summer School and Conference at his farm. (Wikipedia, 2016)

1940 Albert Howard published An Agricultural Testament, based on extensive study and experience with traditional Indore techniques (based on studies at the Indian government research farm in Indore). Sometimes called the Father of Composting, Howard is a strong advocate for using organic amendments and creating “healthy” soils, quoted as stating: “the health of soil, plant, animal, and man is one and indivisible”. In the preface to his Testament, Howard distances “organic” gardening from “biodynamic” methods: “Some attention has also been paid to the Bio-Dynamic methods of agriculture in Holland and in Great Britain, but I remain unconvinced that the disciples of Rudolf Steiner can offer any real explanation of natural laws or have yet provided any practical examples which demonstrate the value of their theories.” (Wikipedia, 2016)

1940 J. I. Rodale established the Rodale Organic Experimental Farm in Emmaus, Pennsylvania – an outgrowth of Rodale, Inc, which he had founded in 1930, leading to Rodale Press in 1942. (Wikipedia, 2016)

1942 Even in the darkness and horror of war and genocide, gardens in forced ghettos yielded food and sustained hope. Mary Berg’s diary from a Warsaw ghetto comments of a spring day: “last night sixty more persons were executed.” – followed in the next paragraph with: “In our garden everything is green. The young onions are shooting up. We have eaten our first radishes. The tomato plants spread proudly in the sun. The weather is magnificent.” (Helphand, 2006)

1942 Botanists William C. Steere and F. Raymond Fosberg were sent to South America on the Cinchona Mission by the US Board of Economic Warfare. Their goal was to locate and collect high quality cinchona bark for extraction of quinine to treat soldiers with malaria. The mission, eventually, involved over 30 botanists. More than 12 million pounds of bark were collected, but the mission never succeeded in locating truly high-yielding trees, or in establishing locally-managed plantations of Cinchona. (on line:  Vassiliki Betty Smocovitis, May,2003, Desperately seeking quinine: The malaria threat drove the Allies WWII “Cinchona Mission” The American Chemical Society, Modern Drug Discovery, pp 57-58) [see TimeLine 1913, KinaBureau]

1942 The Opium Poppy Control Act Of 1942 (US) was passed and signed: From the UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) website: “How The Cultivation Began And Ended

“The poppy cultivated in many parts of the world, and especially in Europe, for its edible and oil-bearing seeds, is the very same species- Papaver somniferum-as the poppy cultivated for opium in many other parts of the world. In fact, the same poppy plant can be used to obtain both opium and edible seeds. In the United States there has never been much commercial cultivation of this plant. Poppy-seed for food has been imported from Europe, 3,000 tons or more a year; in 1938 nearly 4,400 metric tons, chiefly shipped from the Netherlands, Poland and Danzig. This importation was almost entirely cut off by the war, and the price of poppy-seed soared from 7 cents a pound to 50 cents a pound and even more. Many farmers saw the possibility of enormous profit, and plantings of the poppy rapidly increased, especially in California. Although there was no immediate question of opium production, the occasional abusive use of the capsules had already attracted attention, and in any case the Narcotics Bureau of the United States was quite unwilling to see the cultivation of the opium poppy extended far and wide over the country, with the potentiality of narcotic evils in its wake. In response, Congress passed the Opium Poppy Control Act of 1942, making it unlawful for any person to produce the opium poppy except under licence, and licences were to be issued only if necessary to supply the medical and scientific needs of the United States for opium or opium products. The California growers, on the plea that their crop had been planted in the early winter of 1942, just before the law was passed, were allowed to harvest their crop of poppy-seed in the summer of 1943. The understanding of the Narcotics Bureau was, of course, that this concession would never be repeated nor even asked for again. But some of the growers did not stop. Under California law any person of good moral character could obtain a state permit to cultivate the opium poppy. With tremendous profits envisaged and their state permits as at least a talking- point, some of the growers again planted poppy-fields in the fall of 1943. In the following spring, the authorities of the Narcotics Bureau first attempted by persuasion to have the poppies ploughed up, and finally moved to have the remaining crops seized and destroyed.

The growers, who were still resisting, then brought the case to Federal Court, alleging that the Opium Poppy Control Act was unconstitutional, that control over a food plant rested solely with the state. The case was heard by a statutory emergency court composed of a Circuit Judge and two District Judges. The Narcotics Bureau and the District Attorney based their argument for constitutionality of the law squarely upon the treaty-making power of the Federal Government; in particular, the right of Congress to legislate, even contrary to state laws, in furtherance of the International Opium Convention of 1912. On 28 August 1944 the three judges handed down a unanimous decision holding the Opium Poppy Control Act constitutional. Soon after, the growers decided not to appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States. Thus ended the California “Poppy Rebellion”.”

1943 About 3,000,000 people died from famine-based starvation in Bengal.(Ponting, 1991)

1943 Henry Wallace (owner of Pioneer Hi-Bred and US Vice-President) and Marte Gomez (Mexico’s Minister of Agriculture) coordinated withRaymond Fosdick and the Rockefeller Foundation to establish programs to improve corn and wheat production. The Mexican government established an Office of Special Studies (OSS). In 1941, anticipating this program, Richard Bradfield (Cornell, soil science), Paul Mangelsdorf (Harvard, botany), and Elvin Stakman (Minnesota) constituted the review committee endorsing creation of the Rockefeller-financed Mexican Agricultural program (MAP). Jacob Harrar and Norman Borlaug were among the founding scientists. MAP was the precursor to CIMMYT(Centro Internacional de Mejoramiento de Maíz y Trigo), the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center. (Dworkin, 2009; Cotter, 2003; Christensen, 1984; CIMMYT website, 2017)

1943 On 26 January, NikolaiVavilov died in prison in Saratov, Russia, the town in which he had founded an important agricultural research institute. Vavilov, despite having been one of the world’s most significant influential researchers regarding domestic crops, was condemned as “betraying the revolution” because he rejected the “crackpot theories of “Trofim Denisovich Lysenko.” Lysenko’s star had risen quickly in the Soviet Union. In denying the absolute nature of genetic inheritance he promoted the idea that a farmer could improve succeeding generations of a crop by providing especially favorable conditions for the current generation. His methods aligned with Stalinism in suggesting that ideal circumstances would engender immediately improved generations. This optimistic approach to plant husbandry, branded as Lysenkoism, basically rejected Mendelian genetics and the important work of Vavilov. Lysenko’s hypotheses reigned into mid-century Russia, destroying five year plans by leading to failed harvests. Vavilov, today, has been restored to a position of honor, and his disgraceful mistreatment seems forgotten. (Dworkin, 2009)

1944 Oswald Avery had directed his research to examine Frederick Griffith’s remarkable work. Griffith had demonstrated that some physical essence in killed bacteria could be taken in by other bacteria and result in genetic change, an alteration Griffith called transformation. In a series of experiments that involved careful purifications of various fractions, Avery determined that the material effecting the change was Deoxyribose nucleic acid (DNA). His work confirmed that genetic information was somehow stored in DNA. (Mukherjee, 2016)

1944 Chinese botanists reported discovery of living specimens of dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides.) The tree hitherto had been known only from fossil material that was at least 20 million years old. (Rupp, 1990)

1945 White doves were released in Pasadena, California with the following statement: “We are persuaded that this greatest new rose of our time should be named for the world’s greatest desire, PEACE.” Selected in 1935 after its first flowering, the rose had originally been named for the Meilland family matriarch, ‘Mme. A. Meilland’. Stock for the rose had been sent by the Meilland family nursery (located near Lyon) on the last commercial flight to leave France for the United States during World War II. Stock also was sent to Germany (where it received the name ‘Gloria Dei’) and to Italy (where it was named ‘Gioia’). At the first meeting of the United Nations (in San Francisco) each delegate received a flower of ‘Peace’ annotated: “This is the rose ‘Peace’ which received its name on the day Berlin fell.

May it help to move all men of goodwill to strive for Peace on earth for all mankind.” (Grimshaw, 1998)

1945 Through their work with limiting factors in growth of bread mold, Neurospora crassa, George Beadle and Edward Tatum. Noting the impact of mutations that meant individual enzymes were not functional, Beadle and Tatumwere able to confirm that a gene provides instructions for a particular protein. This advanced understanding of genetics through explaining how, specifically, genetic information was translated intoform and function in a cell. (Mukherjee,2016)

1945 Erna Reinholz completed her PhD thesis on Arabidopsismutants generated through exposure to X-rays. Her major professor Friedrich Laiback (who had first reported the plant’s chromosome number in 1907) was convinced the plant would serve as an important model organism and continued emphasis on variability, eventually amassing a living collection of 750 different accessions. (Maarten Koornneef and David Meinke, 2010. Arabidopsis: A Rich Harvest 10 Years after Completion of the Genome Sequence: The development of Arabidopsis as a model plant” The Plant Journal (2010) 61: 909–921 doi: 10.1111/j.1365-313X.2009.04086.x; Elliot M. Meyerowitz, 2001. “Prehistory and History of Arabidopsis Research” Plant Physiology, Published January 2001. DOI:

1946 Marion Parker, Sterling Hendricks, Harry Borthwick, and Fritz Went published Spectral sensitivities for leaf and stem growth of etiolated pea seedlings and their similarity to action spectra for photoperiodism (American Journal of Botany, 35:194-204), explaining that Red light impacts plant growth, inciting new lines of investigation and causing researchers in photoperiodism to refurbish their labs with green filters. Previously, labs had followed protocols similar to those of black and white photography, using red “safe light” to illuminate workspaces. (Sage,1992)

1947 Thor Heyerdahl sailed a raft made of balsa logs, the Kon Tiki, from South America far into the Pacific Ocean, to support his contention that prehistoric people could have made such journeys. Heyerdahl would use the presence in the Easter Islands of a plant called totara (Scirpus) that is native to coastal South America as suggesting ancient travel. A closely related plant, also called totara, is used extensively by inhabitants of the area around Lake Titicaca – for thatching, for construction of mats, even for building boats. (Heiser, 1985)

1947 Developed during WW II, the herbicide 2,4-D was introduced for weed control. (Fussell, 1992)

1947 Rice is an important food crop in Trinidad. We learn form a note by Benson and Murray that in this year a field of rice in Trinidad failed to flower by its normal season. The mystery and pending disaster were avoided when these government scientists noted a nearby stack pipe had been constructed near the paddy, from which natural gas was burned off. Because rice flowering is initiated based on daylength (an observation reported as early as 1923, by S. Mihara), light from the flame eliminated the necessary environmental cues. The challenge was solved by eliminating the flame,  (Sage, 1992)  [See: E.G. Benson and D.B. Murray, 1948. A Note of the Continuous Effect of Flowering of Padi, Tropical Agriculture – Trinidad, 25:3; See also available on the WWW: The Flowering Response of the Rice Plant to Photoperiod, by B.S. Vergara and T.T. Chang, 4th Edition, IRRI]

1947 Albert Francis Blakeslee, a noted botanist and member of the National Academy of Sciences, was famed for his research of Jimson Weed (Datura). In his obituary, the Academy recounts an incident from 1947: “Datura justified the choice of it as a research plant. It was easy to grow. Though naturally rank, it remained small if not given too much nitrogen, and could be made to flower and fruit early in pots or in the field. It had all the vigor and vitality of a true weed. Its disadvantages were an unpleasant odor and the possession of a powerful alkaloid, stramonium, in its sap, which sometimes produced unpleasant effects. Blakeslee became attached to this coarse, weedy plant with its beautiful flowers and once rose vigorously to its defense. Edna St. Vincent Millay, in her poem “In the Grave No Flowers,” had written:

Here beggar-ticks, 'tis true,
Here the rank-smelling Thorn-apple, - and who Would plant this by his dwelling?

This aspersion on Datura was too much for Blakeslee to take without a protest. “I thought I would write you,” he said in a letter to Miss Millay in 1947, “and tell you the answer to your question by saying that I would plant this by my dwelling and have done so for the last thirty years rather extensively. It turns out that this plant (Datura stramonium) is perhaps the very best plant with which to discover principles of heredity.” He then went on to ask her about the name “thorn-apple,” and said he wished that he had used it instead of Jimson weed; the name given it by soldiers sent to Jamestown, Virginia, to put down Bacon’s rebellion in 1676.” ( “Albert Francis Blakeslee, 1874-1954, A Biographical Memoir” by Edmund W.Sinnott)

1948 “Collect everything. Save everything.” Jack Harlan and Osman Tosun, collecting seed samples in Turkish wheat fields, recorded one especially “miserable looking wheat” as Plant Introduction 178383. Fifteen years later, the sample proved to be an important source for genetic resistance to wheat stripe rust. (Dworkin, 2009)

1948 Botanists and editors associated with Kew Gardens began the Flora of Tropical East Africaproject. With assumptions the flora would comprise about 7,000 species and the task would take around 15 years, the Flora was concluded in 2012, covering over 12,100 species involving the work of 135 botanists. Publication had included 263 volumes (1.5 meters of shelving), covering 21 countries, and involving description of approximately 1,500 new plant species. Included in the flora are the ten species of Saintpaulia, plants we call African Violets, which have become extremely rare in the wild. (Willis and Fry,2014)

1949 English phycologist (a scientist who studies algae) Kathleen Drew-Baker described the complex life cycle of Porphyra (nori is in this genus). This new understanding allowed commercial farming of nori in Japan to flourish. A statue of Drew-Baker stands in a Tokyo park overlooking the bay.

1949 Working with Massachusetts-based Fitchburg Engineering Company, Asplundh Tree Expert Company developed the first wood chipper. This development led to many advances in processing tree, brush, and greenwaste leading to more efficient handling of woody material and growing use of mulch in the landscape. (Campana, 1999)

1949 Following trials by the New Zealand Royal Air Force in 1948, researchers settled on suitable methods for widespread application of fertilizers – termed “aerial topdressing”. By 1952, 38 private firms were operating 149 aircraft in this process.  Annual aerial application of superphosphates to grasslands grew to a peak of 2 million tons in 1985, a year in which year the New Zealand government discontinued subsidies. Aerial fertilization of grasslands had underpinned huge increases in sheep populations, reaching approximately 70 million sheep by the 1980s. (Pawson Brooking, 2002; Wikipedia:Aerial Topdressing,2017)

1949 Relaxation of WW II food rationing in Britain began in 1948, but: “Sweets and confectionery were taken off ration in April 1949 but the rush to buy them caused rationing to be reintroduced until February 1953 when its removal was politically timed to occur before the coronation of Queen Elizabeth.” (Oddy, Chapter 5 “The Stop-Go Era: Restoring Food Choice in Britain after World War II”, in Oddy, Atkins, & Amilien, 2016, The Rise of Obesity in Europe – A Twentieth Century Food History, Routledge, London, electronic book)

1950 The US National Science Foundation was established.

1950 The International Association for Plant Taxonomy (IAPT) was established. The IAPT “promotes an understanding of plant biodiversity, facilitates international communication of research between botanists, and oversees matters of uniformity and stability in plant names. The IAPT was founded on July 18, 1950 at the Seventh International Botanical Congress in Stockholm, Sweden.” (Wikipedia,2018)

c1950 Lysenkoism crested with Stalin’s reign of power, codified in a Russian encyclopedia: ‘Gene is a mythical part of living structures which in reactionary theories like Mendelism-Veysmanism-Morganism determines heredity. Soviet scientists under the leadership of Academician Lysenko have proved scientifically that genes do not exist in nature.’ (Thompson, 2010)

1951  Publication of The Day of the Triffids, by John Wyndham, and origin of the triffid as a cultural icon: “a fictitious tall, mobile, prolific and highly venomous plant species.” The book’s main human character, Bill Masen, postulates: “My own belief, for what that is worth, is that they were the outcome of a series of ingenious biological meddlings—and very likely accidental, at that. Had they been evolved anywhere but in the region they were, we should doubtless have had a welldocumented ancestry for them.” (Wikipeida, 2017) In England today, triffid refers to any particularly large, impressive, and perhaps threatening invasive plant, (see Mabey, 2010)

1952 From Catherine Keever’s autobiography, referencing her early teaching position at Limestone College: “I lived in a nice apartment on campus and ate in the student dining hall. My salary was thirty-eight hundred dollars a year and I never got a raise in the three years I stayed there. One year they gave a raise to the man teaching physics who had only a master’s degree. When I complained, they assured me that a man with a family could not live on so low a salary. I wondered whether they were paying him to teach or to have babies.” (Keever, 1985)

1952 G. C. Palade published the first high resolution electron micrographs of mitochondria in Anat Rect 114: 427-451. (Lars Ernster and Gottfried Schatz, 1981. “Mitochondria: a historical review” J Cell Biol.: 91(3): 227–255.)

1952 Irene Manton and Brian Clark, studying moss, were the first to described a 9 + 2 axoneme in flagellae of Sphagnum spermatozoids. This was the first accurate description of the structure of flagellae in Eucaryotes. (“An electron microscope study of the spermatozoid of Sphagnum”, J. Exp. Bot. 3:265-275; R. D. Preston,1988. “Irene Manton. 17 April 1904-13 May 1988” Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society, 35: 248-261

1953 James Watson and Francis Crick published “Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids: A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid.” This paper explained the double helix nature of DNA molecules, explaining how linear arrays of code could be integrated in compact molecules. There was no explanation as to how this code could be translated into cellular proteins, but the difficult task of determining how so much information could be stored in linear chromosomes was tackled. (Mukherjee, 2016)

1953 Kevin Porter reported the presence of a cytoplasmic network which he named endoplasmic reticulum (ER). This work was follow-up to a 1945 report of transmission electron microscopy by authors Keith Porter, Albert Claude, and Ernest Fullam, in which they noted observations of a “lacelike reticulum… , possibly the homologue of kinoplasm.” Because the 1945 article focused on techniques for TEM study of tissue culture cells, concern was expressed that the reticulum could be an artifact of specimen preparation. In his 1953 follow-up study, Porter confirmed this network and applied the name. (“A Study of Tissue Culture Cells by Electron Microscopy – Methods and Preliminary Observations,” J Exp Med. 1945 Mar 1; 81(3): 233–246. PMCID: PMC2135493; PMID: 19871454)

(Kevin Porter, 1953. “Observations on a submicroscopic basophilic component of cytoplasm.” J Exp Med. 97(5):727-50. [Also See: TL 1895, Garnier]

1953    Jean Giorno’s classic book, The Man Who Planted Trees, was rejected for publication by The Reader’s Digest as improbable, but hugely received the following year when printed in Vogue magazine. (Nabhan, 2013)

1953 The first service was held at Whipsnade Tree Cathedral. Originally conceived by Edmond Blyth in 1930, the tree plantings cover nearly 10 acres of a 26-acre site. Owned by the National Trust, the garden (near Bedfordshire, England), was established as a memorial to those who fought in WW I. The concept of an open-air cathedral came to Blyth while visiting Liverpool’s cathedral, which was under construction at the time. Creation was delayed by WWII. It provides a site for various kinds of services in “faith, hope, and reconciliation.” Accepted by the National Trust in 1960, the site is operated by the Whipsnade Tree Cathedral Fund. (Stafford, 2016; WWW)

1953 Alan Bloom (developer of over 170 cultivars of perennial garden plants) began developing the gardens at Bressingham Hall (in Norfolk, England). His work there led to creation of Bressingham Steam and Gardens by 1961/62, and eventual creation of the Steam Museum as a charitable trust. As of 2017, the Bloom family continued to expand and operate the adjacent home and gardens as a business. (Bressingham Garden website, Steam Museum website, Wikipedia, 2017)

History celebrates the battlefields whereon we meet our death, but scorns to speak of the plowed fields whereby we thrive. It knows the names of the kings’ bastards but cannot tell us the origin of wheat. This is the way of human folly.”

J. H. Fabre


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Halliwell, Brian, 1987. Old Garden Flowers, Bishopsgate Press, London, ISBN 0-900873-80-9, 168 pp.

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                1985. Of Plants and People, Univ. Oklahoma Press, Norman. ISBN 0-8061-1931-4. 237 pp.

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WWW: USDA, Agricultural Research Service – ARS Timeline

WWW: (University of California Santa Cruz University Library) – Timeline: Cultivating a Movement, An Oral History Series on Organic Farming and Sustainable Agriculture on California’s Central Coast.                                                                                The Online Authority on Rice

OTHER TIMELINES: The History of Wheat.

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