BLANCHE TRASK ACKNOWLEDGED BY ROBERT THORNE, PhD:
June 30, 1967
in
A FLORA OF SANTA CATALINA ISLAND, CALIFORNIA
in the journal called
ALISO
A Series of Papers on the Native Plants of California
Volume 6, Number 3, Page 289 to 350
Published by
The Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden
Claremont, California


"Forty-eight indigenous plants ... seem to have disappeared from the island's flora. Some of these indeed have not been found on the island since their discovery by Blanche Trask (as Mimulus traskiae, Sibara filifolia, Draba cuneifolia integrifolia, Tropidocarpum gracile, Sarcostemma cynanchoides hartwegi) ..."

"MIMULUS TRASKIAE ... "Very rare endemic annual known only from the type collection: "one locality under shade, flowers white to wine color," Trask, March 1901 (holotype, US); "one locality, 1-6 inches tall, flowers white stained with wine color," Trask, March 1901 (isotype, LAM). The exact type locality on Santa Catalina is apparently not known."

"SIBARA FILIFOLIA... "common in two localities," Trask, March 1901."

"DRABA CUNEIFOLIA INTEGRIFOLIA... "sandy broken sea edges near Avalon," Trask April 1902."

"TROPIDOCARPUM GRACILE... "common in alpine meadows," Trask, March 1900."

"SARCOSTEMMA CYNANCHOIDES HARTWEGI ... Very rare suffrutescent perennial vine, apparently not collected since Blanche Trask found it in "one locality, in canyon climbing over Opuntia," February 1897."

"DENDROMECON RIGIDA. Tree Poppy. Trask described the plants as "rare on wild and broken edges, 10-20 feet tall," March 1901."

"PHACELIA VISCIDA. Sticky Phacelia. Very rare annual, not recently collected: "infrequent in canyons," Trask, April 1900; "one locality," Trask, March 1901."

"LEPECHINIA FRAGRANS. Pitcher-Sage. Rare shrub in chaparral and coastal sage scrub on dry slopes of Black Jack Mountain: "rare, one volcanic region," Trask, May, 1901; ..."

"CERCOCARPUS TRASKIAE. Catalina-mahogany. A small tree with leaves coriaceous and often nearly entire, upper surface with impessed veins, and lower surface densely gray-tomentose, known apparently from one arroyo on the Salta Verde, where collected originally by Blanche Trask ..."

"PLATANUS RACEMOSA. Aliso, Sycamore. These trees may have been planted, and it does seem strange that they would have been overlooked, if indigenous, by Blanche Trask and other botanists who have collected on the island."

"JUGLANS CALIFORNICA. Walnut. Several small trees up to 20 feet high, possibly introduced from the mainland, are growing near Farnworth Loop, about 1300 feet, on the summit road from Avalon to the Airport... "probably introduced, Fosberg,May, 12, 1931. The walnut could have been introduced on the island by the Indian inhabitants though it is strange that this distinctive tree would have been missed, especially along the Summit Road, by such botanists as Blanche Trask, L.W. Nuttall, and C.F. Millspaugh."


OBSERVATIONS of a 21st CENTURY NATURALIST
by
Robert Roy van de Hoek
December 2000
Blanche Trask, poet-explorer-naturalist, did most of her California wild nature exploration and writing on the Channel Islands of Southern California. She was a resident of Avalon on Santa Catalina Island in Los Angeles County, California from 1895 to 1915 (20 Years). Her winter home was located next to the Tuna Club in Avalon, but she also had a summer home at the Isthmus where the Institute of Environmental Studies of USC is currently located. However, she did travel to the deserts of the west as well and we know this through her correspondence such as in the following letter. Many people have acknowledged her contritubitions over the last 100 years. Scientists, in particular, have noted her contributions, such as Dr. Robert Thorne, former Curator of the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, and a significant Systematic/Taxonomic Botanist in his own right. After compiling Robert Thorne's quotes of Blanche Trask, what astounds me are the number of plants that would never have been known to us if never collected by Blanche Trask. In addition, is how Robert Thorne depends on Blanche Trask, in regard to the walnut and sycamore, to declare, correctly I might add, that the these two trees are introduced to Catalina.

Robert Thorne recognized the botanical exploration accomplishments of Blanche Trask in subtle ways, yet significantly. For example, Robert Thorne lists 5 species for Catalina, and I found one additional species (Phacelia viscida), that otherwise would not have been known to be part of the Flora, as non-native mammals, notably goats, sheep, cattle, buffalo, pigs, horses, deer, and antelope removed these beautiful native plants through grazing and trampling impacts.

Blanche Trask did appreciate the desert scene of the southwest but the California Channel Islands is her "sense of place." Indeed, the Channel Islands have a bit of a "desert feel" to them. The Geography of Hope for Blanche Trask is undoubtedly Santa Catalina Island.

The narrative and quotes by Robert Thorne were written and compiled for educational purposes in hopes of someday adding Santa Catalina Island to the Channel Islands National Park. Santa Barbara Island, already in the National Park, is just about 20 miles west of Catalina. Another possibility is for Catalina Island to become part of the California State Parks.

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