Incidental artist

His areas of professional interest were phycology (the study of seaweeds) and plant toxicology. In today’s rarefied world of science the names, habits, and habitats of plants and animals are of little, general, interest. It is fair to say that he belongs to one of the last generations of scientists trained to know and to learn about whole organisms. Well before we spoke of genomics he worked to answer questions such as does it have a name, which others of its kind is it related to, where does it live, what organisms does it interact with, and how does it function? It is rare indeed when similar questions come within sight of today’s scientific cutting edge.

Much of his time was spent in the field and with his camera. Years after retirement he decided that he no longer needed his teaching collection of photographic slides and passed them along. I made time, over winter, to scan them. I am glad I did.

In recognition of the work, and of the science, I felt it would be appropriate to post one of the collection of images. This shows Stongylodon macrobotrys (Jade Vine). What you see are the claw-shaped flowers of this leguminous perennial. The specimen was photographed in 1985 on Kaua’i and at the Pacific Tropical Botanical Garden (now, the National Tropical Botanical Garden).

Nice work Dr. K.


10 thoughts on “Incidental artist

  1. Art and science often go together. You prove the point quite often. These remind me a little by their shape of a Hoya carnosa compacta vine’s leaves. The light and shading remind me of many monochrome floral studies I’ve seen over the years. A tip of my hat to you for preserving Dr. K’s work.

  2. In 1990, I saw jade vine on Kauai. It was the jumping-off point for a sail to Alaska, and we anchored on the north side of the island for three days before setting off. We did a good bit of sightseeing as well as boat prep, although visiting sites familiar from the film “South Pacific” was at the top of the list. Somewhere between Lumahai Beach and Hanalei Bay, a local who was showing us around pointed out the plant.

    As for the relationship between art and life, how about this jade vine trailing along a railing on Kauai today?

    • Are you in Kauai? I thought you were in Texas? Anyway … ocean sailing was always one of my dreams. I learned to sail as a kid in Massachusetts. And then, life happened and I moved to NY and then IN and then PA and now VT. That dream dissolved long ago. But Joanna and I do have a Sunfish that we delight in sailing off the Cape during summer. I really do love to sail, even though on a somewhat smaller scale than I had imagined long ago. There’s something about being driven by the power of the wind (rather than a noisy, polluting, engine) that really inspires.

      • I am in Texas. But back in the day, I applied for a slot on an ocean training voyage sponsored by Orange Coast College in Newport Beach, CA, and was accepted. I got to choose the leg of the trip I wanted, so I chose Kauai to Alaska, with a cruise around Glacier Bay. You can read the expanded version of the tale here, if you like — and see the boat, too.

  3. Isn’t there some saying about art mimicking science? This slide certainly looks more like art then science. Were they originally in black and white? They have a vintage feel about them. Nice to pay homage to a generation gone by.

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