Dr. Dunn taught Plant Taxonomy for years at MU. He was largely responsible for the design of the Tucker greenhouse. He collected the majority of the plants now growing in the greenhouse too. I recently visited with his daughter who shared stories with me of her dad, ‘Doc’, and of plant collecting trips she went on with him and his graduate students all over Mexico & Central America. This photo of him was taken on one of those many trips.
My coworker Melody Kroll and I recently went to MU Archives to look at the huge collection housed there of Dr. Dunn’s research, etc. In a file labeled ‘Plant Collection trips ’69-’71’, I found his hand-drawn phylogenetic trees of various plant families. See two of the best below.
Also, we discovered lots and lots of letters people had sent to him asking for his help in identifying plants. He was quite well known for his plant identification skills. He would take the time to ID all the plants people sent to him, and he’d write back a very personal, detailed reply about each plant. There were hundreds of these. One really stuck out for me.
A woman in New York submitted some leaves to Ralston Purina (the pet food corporation) asking them to ID a plant that her dog kept eating. She thought that since it didn’t make her dog sick, maybe they should use this plant in their pet food recipe. Ralston Purina sent her letter to Dr. Dunn, and sent the woman a letter telling her that they’d submitted her leaf sample and her letter to a renowned Botanist at the University of MO who was the expert in identifying plants.
Dr. Dunn’s daughter also shared with me that her dad was a frequent guest of a local television show called ‘Of Interest to Women’. This was a gardening show about spring planting, preparing gardens for planting in fall, and how and when to plant a certain plant.
More to come on Dr. Dunn and his amazing career at MU.