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The Collector: David Douglas and the Natural History of the Northwest

Articles: The Collector: David Douglas and the Natural History of the Northwest

In my career as executive director of the Bloedel Reserve, I had a number of opportunities to present programs about Northwest plant collectors, including Archibald Menzies, Thomas Nuttall, Lewis & Clark, and David Douglas. How I wish I could have had this book when preparing those talks. The task would have been so much easier with Jack Nisbet’s new book as a model.

In addition to his extensive research on the topic, historian Nisbet brings a unique combination of talents to his assignment. He is a teacher who frequently works with Native American school children and tribal groups, associations that have given him uncommon insights into the relationships that Douglas had with various Northwest tribes. He also reflects the talents of a naturalist: a sincere appreciation for and knowledge of the wildlife and plants that Douglas encountered and collected. He presents the story in a way that keeps the reader captivated, interested, and wanting more.

While I consider myself a capable botanist, I am not a collector. I am, however, fascinated by the stories of those early botanical explorers who came and collected plants in the Pacific Northwest. I find the stories of their str...

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