Crumbling buildings, fires, falling trees, and intensely shaking ground did not deter Alice Eastwood from running into the California Academy of Science on April 18, 1906, the day a catastrophic earthquake struck San Francisco. Eastwood, a self-taught, extraordinary botanist explorer, and conservationist, rescued 1, 211 valuable plant species and many of her colleagues’ books. “My own destroyed work,” she said, “I do not lament, for it was a joy to me while I did it, and I can still have the same joy in starting it again.”
That she did, going on numerous collecting expeditions, adding over 340,000 specimens to the collection. She named 395 plant species and published more than 300 scientific articles. Seventeen species are named for her, including Salix eastwoodiae (Eastwood’s willow), and two genera—Eastwoodia and Alicielia.
An indefatigable hiker, Alice Eastwood was one of the few women to become a member (but only as an associate) of an all-male hiking club. A fellow hiker remembered her as “a famous plant-hunter who trudged easily twenty miles a day carrying her heavy plant presses on her back”
In 1949, at the age of 90, Alice Eastwood finally retired. Four years later, she wrote, “I count my age by my friends, and I am rich in friends.” Kate Sessions (see previous post) was one of her friends: Their friendship, Alice Eastwood wrote, “… developed through flowers—our children—which I am growing and she is naming,"
During one of our trips to California, we drove up Mount Tamalpais, near San Francisco, to visit Alice Eastwood’s namesakes: Eastwood Trail, Camp Eastwood, and Camp Eastwood Road. The photo of me is by Linda Hickson. The image of Alice Eastwood, (a painting by Alice B. Chittenden, 1937) is from the Mill Valley Historical Society website. Her grave is in the Toronto Necropolis Cemetery.