Manchurian Catalpa, Peking, China, 1915

by Larissa Glasser, Library Assistant
October 6, 2016

Manchurian Catalpa, Peking, China, 1915

Manchurian Catalpa, Peking, China, 1915

Catalpa bungei, Peking, China, 1915

Catalpa bungei. Near Peking, China. A large and old specimen of the Chiu shu, covered with a multitude of large, pale mauve spotted flowers. Very ornamental when flowering well. May 16, 1915. [Information from label on verso of photo mount.] Catalpa bungei C.A. Mey ; Bigonionaceae ; Chinese name ‘Chiu shu’ meaning ‘autumn tree.’ 9.5 x 12.5 cm. Gelatin silver process.

Catalpa bungei China

[Title from recto of mount.]

Alternate Title: Tree habit with a building with lattice windows on the background
Photograph by Frank Nicholas Meyer (1875-1918, Dutch, American)
May 16, 1915

A larger version of this image is available in HOLLIS, the online catalog of Harvard Library.

You can read more about Manchurian Catalpa in Arnoldia.

Frank Nicholas Meyer began his career at the Amsterdam Botanical Garden where he worked his way up to the position of head gardener in charge of the experimental garden. His aptitude caught the attention of Hugo de Vries (1848-1935), who became his mentor.

Meyer arrived in America in 1901, and obtained work with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). After a year with the USDA, he went to Mexico to collect plants. On his return in 1904, David Fairchild (1869-1954) of the Foreign Plant Introduction Section of the USDA hired Meyer to make a collecting trip to China. When Meyer sailed for China in 1905, he began a 13-year odyssey that led to the introduction of more than 2,000 species of plants. In an arrangement between Charles S. Sargent and Fairchild, Meyer sent the Arboretum trees and shrubs of ornamental value.

Frank Meyer’s photographs document his expeditions. His captions reflect his empathy with the subject matter and the enthusiasm he held about the potential for improvements in economic botany in the West based on his exploration of the East.

Meyer died in China in 1918 after a fall from a boat. In 1920, his former associates at the USDA had a medal struck with funds he had bequeathed them. In recognition of his contributions and service, the Frank N. Meyer Medal for Plant Genetic Resources is presented yearly for service to the National Plant Germplasm System, whose mission is to preserve the genetic diversity of plants.

Many thousands more Botanical and Cultural Images of Eastern Asia are available in our Visual Archives.

The Archive Collection of the Arnold Arboretum also holds the Frank N. Meyer (1875-1918) papers, 1906-1914.

Copyright © 2004, President and Fellows of Harvard College, Arnold Arboretum Archives; all rights reserved.
Contact the Arnold Arboretum Horticultural Library of Harvard University, Jamaica Plain for permissions and fees.

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