History of Botany: The Missouri Connection
Long, Michael .
George Engelmann's Fortunate Connections.
The 19th-century physician and botanist George Englemann forged many important bonds with plant collectors, businessmen, and fellow scientists throughout Europe and America. One early connection at university with Louis Agassiz contributed to Engelmann's decision to emigrate from Germany to the American western frontier, where he hoped to become, in good Humboldtian fashion, a traveling naturalist. The decision enhanced the quality of science in the American West. When Engelmann finally settled in St. Louis, he quickly became the leader of its nascent scientific community. His connection with Asa Gray began another lifelong friendship; together they developed a western plant collecting business which helped them gather and describe many new species. Further friendships with prominent St. Louis businessmen Charles P. Chouteau and Henry Shaw led to the formation of two important scientific institutions--the Academy of Science of St. Louis and the Missouri Botanical Garden--both of which Engelmann helped to found and guide.
In later life, as younger scientists in St. Louis rose to prominence, Engelmann played one more important scientific role. During the 1870s he worked with local grape growers and entomologists, as well as French researchers, to counter the invasion of the phylloxera plant louse then crippling European vineyards. His expert knowledge of native species of American grapevines helped save the French wine industry. It is one final example of how Engelmann's connections, formed over a lifetime devoted to science, proved fortunate for the world.
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1 - Webster University, School of Communications, 470 E. Lockwood Ave., St. Louis, MO, 63119, USA
Missouri Botanical Garden
Presentation Type: Symposium or Colloquium Presentation
Location: Lindell D/Chase Park Plaza
Date: Tuesday, July 12th, 2011
Time: 8:30 AM