Vern Oswald: 1925–2002

Vern Oswald passed away on 11 February 2002, in Chico, following a short illness. Vern's passing leaves a huge hole in the collective botanical knowledge of northern California plants. His time spent in the field helping area botanists is almost legendary, and his time spent volunteering in the herbarium has been essential to it being a functional facility.

Vern started his career as a botanist around the time of his 1983 retirement from teaching general biology and invertebrate zoology at CSU Chico. He quickly became one of the most knowledgeable field botanists in northern California, with publication in 1986 of "Vascular Plants of Upper Bidwell Park, Chico, California," in 1994 of "Manual of the Vascular Plants of Butte County, California," and co-authorship in 1995 of the revision of "A Flora of Lassen Volcanic National Park, California." Vern produced numerous florulae (as he called them)—annotated checklists of the plants of wildlife areas, preserves, interesting private properties, etc. around northern California. His unpublished "Selected Plants of Northern California and Adjacent Nevada," with the 2002 version distributed by Vern just before his death, is highly prized by those botanists privileged to have a copy,or any of the older versions (Published in 2002 by Studies from the Herbarium)! His main activity over the past couple of years has been taking photos and close-up scans of plants to accompany a cd-rom version of this book (which has received some private distribution).

Vern received the "Distinguished Service Award" from the Friends of the Biological Sciences Herbarium, CSU Chico, in 1996 for his extensive volunteer help in the herbarium. This volunteer activity consisted primarily of doing ALL of the accessioning and filing of vascular plant specimens coming into the herbarium (about 2000-3000 specimens per year), a service that Vern continued to perform up until his death. In addition, over the past 18 years he made over 10,000 plant collections, almost all of which are housed at the Biological Sciences Herbarium, CSU Chico (CHSC), with many duplicates distributed by Vern, or by the herbarium, to other institutions across the United States.

All of this was done without remuneration—simply for the personal satisfaction derived.

Photos

Submitted Articles:
Beth Corbin
David Isle
Judy Oswald Ringer

Herbarium Open House In Honor Of Vern Oswald (pdf)
March 15, 2002
12:00 to 3:30 pm

The herbarium is still seeking articles and photos about field work and other botanical activities shared with Vern by friends and colleagues. Contributions will be posted to this web site, and may come in any standard electronic format (.doc, .pdf, .html, .jpg, etc) or hard copy including prints and slides. Please submit contributions to Lawrence Janeway or hard copy via the Herbarium address (see top of page).