Alice Eastwood

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Alice Eastwood
Born 1859
Toronto, Canada
Died October 30, 1953 (aged 93–94)
San Francisco, California, United States
Fields Botany
Author abbrev. (botany) Eastw.

Alice Eastwood (1859 in Toronto, Canada - October 30, 1953 in San Francisco, California) was a Canadian American botanist. Born in Toronto, she moved to the United States at 14, and from age twenty to thirty, was a teacher in Denver, Colorado and taught herself botany. In 1890 she assumed a post in the herbarium at the California Academy of Sciences. Eastwood was given a position as joint Curator of the Academy with Katherine Brandegee in 1892. By 1894, with the retirement of Brandegee, Eastwood was procurator and Head of the Department of Botany, a position she held until she retired in 1949.

In her early botanical work, Eastwood made of number of collecting expeditions in Colorado and the Four Corners region. She became close with the Wetherill Family, and visited Alamo Ranch in Mesa Verde often, beginning in July 1889. Long before that, she was considered apart of the family, and so did not sign the guest register on later trips. Each time Eastwood visited, she was particularly welcomed by Al Wetherill, who shared a sincere interest in her work. In 1892, he served as her guide on a 10-day trip to southeastern Utah to collect desert plants. [1] [2]

Eastwood also made a number of collecting expeditions to the edge of the Big Sur region, which at the end of the 19th century was a virtual frontier, since no roads penetrated the central coast beyond the Carmel Highlands. In those excursions she discovered a number of plants theretofore unknown, including Eastwood's willow and Hickman's potentilla. Eastwood was credited with saving the Academy's type plant collection after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Opposing curatorial conventions of her era, Eastwood segregated the type specimens from the main collection. This classification system permitted her, upon entering the burning building, readily to retrieve 1500 specimens.

After the earthquake, before the Academy had constructed a new building, Eastwood studied in Herbaria in Europe and other U.S. regions, including the Gray Herbarium, the New York Botanical Garden, the British Museum, and the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. In 1912, with completion of the new Academy facilities at Golden Gate Park, Eastwood returned to the position of curator of the herbarium and reconstructed the lost part of the collection. She went on numerous collecting vacations in the Western United States, including Alaska, Arizona, Utah and Idaho. By keeping the first set of each collection for the Academy and exchanging the duplicates with other institutions Eastwood was able to build the collection, Abrams noting that she contributed "thousands of sheets to the Academy's herbarium, personally accounting for its growth in size and representation of western flora". By 1942 she had built the collection to about one third of a million specimens.

Eastwood is credited with publishing over 310 articles during her career. She served as editor of Zoe and as an assistant editor for Erythea before the 1906 earthquake, and founded a journal, Leaflets of Western Botany (1932–1966) with John Thomas Howell. Eastwood was director of the San Francisco, California Botanical Club for several years throughout the 1890s, and has seventeen currently recognized species named for her, as well as the genera Eastwoodia and Aliciella. A member of the California Academy of Sciences since 1892, she was unanimously elected an honorary member of the Academy in 1942. Her main botanical interests were western U.S. Liliaceae and the genera Lupinus, Arctostaphylos and Castilleja. She died in San Francisco on October 30, 1953.

She was honoured in the binomial name of Boletus eastwoodiae, an attractive though poisonous bolete of western North America which she collected. However, this was renamed Boletus pulcherrimus due to a misidentification of type material.[3] It still bears the common name of Alice Eastwood's bolete.

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Selected publications online[edit]


  1. ^ Fletcher, Maurine, S. (1977). The Wetherills of Mesa Verde: Autobiography of Benjamin Alfred Wetherill. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. p. 210. 
  2. ^ McNitt, Frank (1966 [1957]). Richard Wetherill: Anasazi (Revised ed.). Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. p. 86.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  3. ^ Thiers HD, Halling RE (1976). "California Boletes V:Two New Species of Boletus" (PDF). Mycologia (Mycologia, Vol. 68, No. 5) 68 (5): 976–83. doi:10.2307/3758713. JSTOR 3758713. Retrieved 2008-02-02. 
  4. ^ "Author Query for 'Eastw.'". International Plant Names Index. 
  • Leroy Abrams, Alice Eastwood: Western Botanist, Pacific Discovery. 2(1):14-17 (1949)
  • John Thomas Howell, Alice Eastwood: 1859-1953, Taxon. 3(4):98-100 (1953)
  • F.M. MacFarland, R.C. Miller and John Thomas Howell, Biographical Sketch of Alice Eastwood, Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences, Fourth series, 25: ix-xiv, bibliography xv-xxiv.

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