Of cabbages and kings

Jacqueline Soule soule at WSUNIX.WSU.EDU
Thu Mar 9 16:28:14 CST 1995

On Wed, 8 Mar 1995, Karen Wilson wrote:

>      This is idle curiosity but:
>      Has anyone ever come up with an explanation, serious or otherwise, of
>      why so many biologists quote Lewis Carroll in their papers?? I am
>      preparing a review paper at the moment and have been struck by how
>      often 'Alice in Wonderland' or 'The hunting of the snark' are quoted
>      in papers from the last 25 years.

Do not neglect the most famous case of a Botanist citing Lewis Carroll!
The Western North America botanist and explorer Sykes, one evening as the
sun was setting, came over a hill in Sonora and saw, silouetted against a
glorious desert sunset, the fabulous Fouquieria columnaris.  His first
words to his companions, upon seeing this most fascinating sight was, "Oh
ho! Definatly the Boojum!"  This name stuck, and became the "English"
common name for the plant.  (for those that do not know this plant, they
are up to 5 m tall, and look rather like a silvery white carrot with the
tip pointing to the sky, and the base plump and wrinkly.) [Fouquieriaceae]

The book, "The Boojum and its home" (I dont recall the author, possibly
H.S. Gentry) has the details.  They may also be in "Campfires on Desert
Lava" (again, I cannot recall the author).

Best of Luck with your review paper.


Jacqueline Soule

<                                                               >
<  Jacqueline Soule                                             >
<  Department of Botany                                         >
<  Washington State University                                  >
<  Pullman WA 99164-4238                                        >
<  U.S.A.                                                       >
<                                                               >
<  Fax:   509 335 3517                                          >
<  Phone: 509 335 3500                                          >
<  Email: soule at wsunix.it.wsu.edu                               >
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