Monday, June 3, 2013

Best Madrono paper ever!!

The centenary of the California Botanical Society is upon us.  100 years of Madrono.  During the banquet this year, the question was offered – what is the  “BEST” paper in Madrono.  I offer the citation: Madrono 25 (2) 111. [1978] - Review of Barneby, R. 1977.  Dalea Imagines.  Mem. New York Botanical Garden 27:1-892.  In that era, I would help the editor of Madrono, Barbara Webster and Grady Webster, with tasks (mail, xeroxing) needed to manage the journal.  It is therefore my opinion that paper that ought to be seen as “best Madrono paper” is a book review, which I plagiarize liberally here.   Once in a great while editors ought to borrow from this example and place within their “white space” such ephemora et memoria.

Sage BARNEBY, who's had his share of fame,
With this new work may greener laurels claim;
We've seen some monographs of equal length,
But few that mix such elegance with strength;
So often merit's antonym to size
That epic length we're tempted to despise
(Thus STANDLEY wrote, with great facility,
Long works of flawed reliability,
And RYDBERG, who penned much with firm decision,
Was cursed, like SMALL, with brash pedantic vision).
So now we're grateful for this splendid book
Which justifies the decade Rupert took;
Amorpheae, as Barneby defines,
Includes eight genera in its confines;
We're startled that the Dalea we knew
Was not erected by A. L. JUSSIEU
(But after all, we got into this bind
Because the great LINNAEUS changed his mind) ;
From Dalea two taxa are set free:
To Psorothomnus goes the fair Smoke Tree,
Marina comes back from obscurity;
The prairie clovers (Petalostemon)
Regain their petals - but their rank has gone.
The species groups are many and compound
But their new circumscriptions look quite sound;
We find that the descriptions and the keys
Are well designed, and can be used with ease.
The many illustrations set this book apart
Through exquisite detail of patient art:
The author's pencil draws each plant's Gestalt
As BAUER might have done, without a fault;
These species portraits, polished and unique
(Though one regrettably is forced to seek
Each picture far removed from its own text),
Have captions discursive and multiplex.
Although it would have made the book more weighty,
We miss the maps and indexed exsiccatae;
Still, these are but inconsequential flaws
Which need not damp our chorus of applause:
For Barneby, with flair and art precise,
Has wrought a masterpiece of awesome price;
This noble guidebook to the Daleae
Will find botanic immortality.


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