BLANCHE TRASK
acknolwedged by
Robert Foreman
1966
in
Flora of San Nicolas Island

"In April of 1897, the intrepid explorer and amateur botanist of the Channel Islands, Mrs. Blanche Trask, collected the first recorded specimens of plants from San Nicolas. Although records of her visit are scanty, it is known that the party landed at Corral harbor from a schooner, and from the size and scope of the collection made, she must have been on the island for several days. She collected a total of 80 species, 64 of which were in common with the mainland and 7 species and 3 or 4 varieties were peculiar to the Island. Included in these new species were the type collections of Lomatium insulare, Astragalus traskiae, Cryptantha traskiae, and Lycium verrucosum, which are still regarded as distinct species. All of these specimens were sent to Alice Eastwood at the California Academy of Sciences, who identified them and published the results of the trip. Unfortunately, a large part of this collection was destroyed during the San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906 (Miss Eastwood managed to save the type specimens), and in the fire that destroyed Mrs. Trask's private herbarium at Avalon in 1916. Miss Eastwood, in one of her letters to Mrs. Trask, mentions a collector who had visited the Island before Mrs. Trask's visit but whose collections were lost before they could be studied (Eastwood Archives, California Academy of Sciences)."

"Mrs. Trask evidently made a second visit to the Island in April of 1901. The only records of this visit are the specimens, at the Gray Herbarium, of Cryptantha traskiae and Phacelia cinerea, including the only known collection of the latter species. The Island remained unvisited by botanists for the next 31 years."


OBSERVATIONS OF A NATURALIST FROM THE 21st CENTURY
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 (spanning 20 Years). Her winter home was located adjacent 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.

Blanche Trask also explored some of the desert mountains of the west, such as the San Jacinto Mountains, Colorado Desert, Death Valley, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and Yellowstone. Many people have acknowledged her contributions over the last 100 years. Scientists, in particular, have noted her contributions, such as Robert Foreman. Foreman is the first to utilize the Eastwood Archives for information on Blanche Trask.

Robert ForemanThomas Howell is the use of "Mrs." since B recognized the botanical exploration accomplishments of Blanche Trask. The only mistake by Foreman is the use of "Mrs." as she was divorced by 1896. Mr. Foreman is correct in associating Miss Trask and Miss Eastwood together in the same paragraph as they formed a kind of "mutual admiration society." Obviously, Mr. Foreman recognized that both women respected each other tremendously. Both were independent explorers in their own right. Blanche Trask and Alice Eastwood explored together for plants. Eastwood and Trask loved "wild"flowers and the "wildness" of the west, including high "wild" places of the mountains. Both Trask and Eastwood loved trees especially. Today, we would most certainly call them ecofeminists. I would term myself an ecofeminist as well. Eastwood and Trask traveled together, as noted by Eastwood. Alice Eastwood did an inspiring eulogy of Blanche Trask, that was noted by Willis Jepson in his journals in 1916. Jepson noted that Alice placed sprigs and branches of Trask Mahogany on the casket of Blanche. A few months after the funeral, Alice Eastwood visited Catalina in the summer of 1917. Was this visit to Catalina, apparently Eastwood's second visit, a "kind of good-bye to Blanche," and were her ashes brought to Catalina? Did Miss Eastwood travel to Catalina to visit people who would have known Blanche Trask or to explore Catalina for botanical specimens? Miss Eastwood did collect plants during this 1917 trip to Catalina.

Blanche Trask appreciated the desert landscapes of the southwest, as noted in her letters to Willis Jepson, but the California Channel Islands is her "sense of place." Indeed, the Channel Islands have a "desert feel" to them, if one spends some time on them. The Geography of Hope for Blanche Trask is undoubtedly Santa Catalina Island.

In this brief synopsis, we see how Blanche Trask via her botanical exploration and geography of San Nicolas Island, that it all weaves together, that the greater good of nature, botany, wildness, and island geography, link together two great botanical explorers: Trask and Eastwood."

The above narrative was written and compiled by Robert Roy van de Hoek, for educational and inspirational purposes in the hope of someday adding the last three "southern" islands (San Nicolas, San Clemente, Santa Catalina) to the five islands that already make up Channel Islands National Park. Both Blanche Trask and Alice Eastwood would whole-heartedly approve of a "All Eight Channel Islands" National Park. Therefore, it is only fitting that these three "southern" islands be added to the "name-sake" -Channel Islands National Park. If not, I propose that we change the National Park name to more accurately reflect truth: "Eight Channel Islands-Minus Three National Park." My point is that this "great" National Park is not "greater" but "lesser" than the current name would suggest. The northern Channel Islands (Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel) are a much greater distance from Santa Barbara Island than the three in question. These three "southern" islands are not far from Santa Barbara Island, which, by the way, already is in the National Park. Each of the three "southern" islands is roughly 20 miles from Santa Barbara Island but in different compass directions. San Clemente is "South," Santa Catalina is "East," and San Nicolas is "West."




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