Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on June 23, 1974 · Page 67
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 67

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, June 23, 1974
Page 67
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Page 67 article text (OCR)

· * The Guyandotte Beauty In 1793, renowned French botanist Andre Michaux was travelling down the Ohio River by boat, passing forest-covered bottomlands where later would be built the cities of Wheeling, Parkersburg, Huntington. As related in Weldon Boone's "History of Botany in West Virginia" (1965), he was making a botanical excursion to Kentucky and Illinois, having crossed the mountains from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, on the "western waters." Probably somewhere ; along .the lower Ohio, perhaps near the mouth of the Guyandotte'River, Michaux saw a new-plant, which he named Lamiumihispidulum, very lovely when in-bloom, but so little known that to this day it has not received a generally accepted English name. Andre Michaux had been born a farmer ini747 in : the little French Milage of Satory near Versailles.. At the age of 23 ;he married Cepile Claye, the daughter, of a well-to-do peasant. He was of a class of Frenchmen content witfcfarm and family all life long. Oh^jjijeat;tragef dy ccwld rouseinlrlitllpm his. happy place. ; THfe befeftttnv when, afteYscarlcely a year n f m Q »·«·» A*1;:l.i f A .iiK « 1 Aim'l ir 01 llldi I-1 Cecile di a son, mate, a grg|i. stirred the|ypu%peasant and he p^ga^ tp-e off ; on plants, to-|athe|^«ful and-' beautifuKand jci cies. ms;pl : antsjttej , living bacttb,^^^ and he saw his w§rk as^^^ice for his King Jhd his"|£edntry. On Oct. i, 1785, Michaux arrived in New York, with his son Francois, by then 15 years of" age! In 1787, they went to Charleston, S. C., and Michaux; was so enchanted by : -the climate and the situation that he purchased a tract of land which became their headquarters for future expeditions. Donald Culross Peattie, in his delightful "Green Laurels" (1936), tells the story of Michaux's life and explorations from his new home: "Michaux was never happier than in the Carolinas, which spell a poem, whether . you read them east to west, or west to east, from the balsams of the mountains to the /-.'-. ',-;.? .:·' .'-.'^·VV..\.\y,f.i\ .! 2" 1 CHARLESTON, W. VA. By .Earl Core strange white atamasco lilies of the coastal savannahs. Into the pattern of lowland life, blended of the aristocratic and the tropic, Mi- · chaux with high adaptability merged and was warmly accepted. . . ' ' A Frenchman, from gentle Satory, where there are no diamond-back rattlers, parbleu, or animals who carry their babies in pockets of their fur coats, he saw all things American as curious and fascinating -' and are they not?" · .-.· In. their travels the two botanists, father and son, came to the mountains, the great rhododendrons closed about them. Peattie continues: "To those who have* seen the. Alps..., no Appalachians are likely, as mountains, to stir the heart. They are rather, a forest upon a high- rolling floors-arid bn.a!l'the; ; -?;: 1 continentj in all" the world, I ;; believe,/there is; lib such : : .hardwood or deciduous ;fiot:/i ;sest as this/ All ;the;beauty of; : ; ···-.the'SAppa'lachiahs;is-forest : s-beauty; one feels it'rnarch- ;; ing over the tiiUs;; filling the : .· y; ·:"·valleys,; .leaving Nothing . : ibteak; nothing eroded, no- : ' · ·; "thing arid. Everywhere the ; *" murmur of leaves, the.' trickling or the rushing of ··. water."/ ..·;. : ····.'','·':y:^A ^U-··· And beyond ttie mountains;-;-/: unbroken :· f oresjtslfstrefched *' : mile after..mile'tojthie,iffes|;..,;,;. ··':. no one'knew how fai^;Eeattie ! "^ muses: '' · ":"·'. ···^·^r;;-;. "And to my.tasj^tiiiere is just one moment ihtfhe past when I would sb'gla'dlyjhaye'' lived as in thepresent^fli-the era of our aristocratic, elegant Georgian civilization, m the days when European science, .was just available but not-top: easily come at, and in that forever irretriev- .able, moment when wilder- ness'began at^tfie Blue Ridge, the Americanvnatu- ralist was luckier than he is today .. .There is no longer any behqnd." But in Michaux's day much was yet to be discovered beyond the mountains. He descended "la Belle Riviere" between the forest- clad banks with wonderstruck eyes, every curve in the stream producing a new marvel. Synandra hispidula they''passed:; by ;Willing 7 Whe^lihg^ 92 Jmiles from Pittsburgh;; this place is :inhabited by about li.famili^i ' as is also Buffalo Creek? "The 26th, saw no habitations; passed the river Scio- Vcontrairy- wind we travelled. "."Sunday, August 18th, 1793, saw several flocks of wild turkeys, wind contrary. "The;J.9th we made 50 Miles. There are no settle- ^ments'between Willing and Marietta, a small Town si- skingum river We slept at the place called. Fort Har- rhar, situate opposite Marietta on the right bank of the Muskingum river. "Tjie;20th we^ tlements. " : "The~Wrd passed Great plant he discovered, -the subject of our essay, was not in bloom in August; it is . at its. prime in .late June. ^Somewhere, though, before. ; or after, he : did see the flow- " :eirs; ; and in his book, "Flora ;;: BSreali-Americana",, /,' putP lishediin 1803, he described it X as fojlpws: ,^;^C|iile hispidulo: foiius: "io^ge^peUplatis, ;lato : cprdar tis; parce pubentibus: foliof- iirh fiptalium axillis unifloris: corolla majuscula, alba." . (Stem somewhat 'roiig'h- -./.hairy."'leaves'long petioled, cordate sparingly ;iigf flowers in the axil of.'. . corolla rather- ·'") ·: .- -.·"-.' the plant is called by'the Latin name Synandra. . hispidula; but up to now it '""'" no common English On Aug. 17,1793, he says in his journal (translated by Reuben Gold Thwaites in "Early Western Travels"), of the* Belle riviere i: The houses are all;built of _ squared logs merely notched at the ends instead of being:. Mortised.... ' ./" "Sunday .the 25th started from Galliapolis; at a disfc ance of 35 Miles recognized : Iresine celosioides on the, banks of the belle riviere. where they are submerged by the great inundations. Passed a small river called Gay (Guyandotte). We saw no habitations. in the second edition ? of Part III of our "Flora' of West Virginia," published a -^few days ago in Morgan- «town, I have suggested ,the 1 name Guyandotte Beauty; The name is of the type of Roanoke bells. Osage or-.- ange. Virginia creeper, Miami mist, or Oswego tea, and -'does not imply that the plant is restricted to that particular area. It is common in the Guyandotte Valley, however, and it is certainly a beautiful plant. In West Virginia the Guyandotte Beauty is known only from the area of Kanawha, Boone, and Wyoming counties and to the westward- Its"total range is from southern West Virginia and southwestern Virginia west ·; to Illinois along the Ohio iand ; .south to Tennessee. This is somewhat the area once in-;-.. : habited by the Wyandotte Jtribeiof-lndians; Guyandotte is supposed to be a French variant of of this tribe, .who apparently called themselves something like Wendat. V . . : . The Guyandotte Beauty is a hairy biennial plant, one to two-feet high...The lower leaves have long petioles, and are thin, broadly ovate, heart-shaped, crenate. The' .upper leaves are sessile and gradually reduced in size until they are no more than floral bracts. A single flower .appears above each bract. The calyx is bell-shaped, -somewhat inflated, irregu- Jarly veiny. The corolla is an - inch to an inch-and^a-half long, yellowish-white in color, with a long tube and two : broad;lips. : .The upper lip is : arched and entire, while the lower lip is spreading and three-lobed. The lobes are ovate, the middle one the broadest and notched at the end. There are four hairy stamens, the upper pair shorter than the lower, curving under the upper lip. The anthers are close to- gether and this suggested the name Synandra, from the Greek, syn, together, and andr, man, here used to designate the anther, the "male" portion of the flower. The ovary is^deeply four- parted, forming in fruit four little seed-like nutlets, each filled with a single, seed. · »· My most pleasurable experience with the Guyandotte Beauty was on June 15, 1957, a memorable walk along forest-clad Millers Creek, in Mingo County. Accompanying me from Morgantown was William R. Lenhart, Our hosts from the local area were Okie S. Green and the Rev. Henry Hughes, naturalists from Ashland, Ken., led by Rufus M. Reed, newspaper columnist and poet from Lovely, Ken. The wild flower arboretum operated by "Bob" Chapman and Rufus Reed has made Lovely all .the lovelier through the years. Our cheerful walk under the trees along Millers Creek was gratifying to the eye, with wild flowers in bloom everywhere, even hanging over our heads on lovely crbssvines, and gratifying to the ear, with a melodious chorus of song birds in .every tree. Once we flushed " an ovenbird out of her oven- like nest on the ground. And all around more flowers ofthe Guyandotte Beauty than I have seen in all my life before that time and since. If it were as common throughout the East as it is in a few places, like this in the lower Ohio Valley, it would have had an English name long ago. My memory of the day of the Guyandotte Beauty is perhaps best .expressed by one of Rufus M. Reed's sonnets ( f r o m "Forever to Sing/'1969): "reace of the forest -sweetest peace of all! A peace profound that steals into your heart And takes away the hurts that sore enthrall ' The spirit of man... .a peace that dwells apart From icordly woes and life's onrushing tide; It's based upon eternal solitude: . A nd heals those who are templed sore and tried; It lifts their hearts and makes them calm and good." · · ' · - ; ~ r -J.V '\ i · i ··· i - '·· i'A 1 '' ·June 23, i4\ Sunday'Ci'dzette-Matt

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