May 17, 2019 · 8:56 am
The tree was new to him, a massive silver needled pine. He climbed off his horse and walked slowly round the fallen giant, in the root plate he noticed a yellow glint, carelessly he dropped the golden nugget in his pocket, then found what he was looking for. In what had been the topmost branches were mature cones. Carefully he collected the seed.
His letter to Kew began; “Wonderful discoveries, you must think I have been manufacturing pines, I have found so many.”
He never mentioned the gold, to the plant hunter David Douglas, trees were much more important.
A true story, David Douglas, one of the great early plant hunters, discovered hundreds of species during his expeditions in North West America, the Douglas Fir is named after him. When told that gold had been discovered in California, he replied that he had often found small nuggets when digging up plant specimens, but he had never mentioned it as he didn’t think it was of any interest.