Sophora japonica and Albizzia julibrissin Tientsin, China, 1907

August 17, 2017

Tree habit with three children in western dress

Sophora japonica and Albizzia julibrissin Tientsin, China, 1907


The weeping Sophora japonica, an elegant tree for the arid west. On the left is Albizzia julibrissin, which is extremely graceful and might also be appreciated in the arid regions of the United States. June 9, 1907. [Information from label on verso of photo mount.] 9.5 x 12.5 cm. Gelatin silver process.

Sophora japonica and Albizzia julibrissin Tientsin, China

[Title from recto of mount.] Alternate Title: Tree habit with three children in western dress
Photograph by Frank Nicholas Meyer (1875-1918), Dutch, American.
Tianjin, Tianjin Municipality, China
June 9, 1907

A larger version of this image is available in HOLLIS Images.

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.

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