Episode Description

In 1909, the Mayor of Tokyo sent a gift of 2,000 prized cherry trees to Washington, D.C. But the iconic blossoms enjoyed each spring along the Tidal Basin are not from those trees. That’s because Flora Patterson, who was the Mycologist in Charge at the USDA, recognized the original saplings were infected, and the shipment was burned on the National Mall. In this episode, assistant producer Hilda Gitchell explores Flora’s lasting impact on the field of mycology, starting with a blight that killed off the American chestnut trees, and how she helped make the USDA’s National Fungus Collection the largest in the world.

Flora's Mushroom Ketchup Recipe
Thi​​s brief article and photograph of Patterson appeared in the Washington Star on December 9, 1917.
Staff of the Bureau of Plant Industry in front the USDA building, ca. 1900s. Flora Wambaugh Patterson is seated in the front row on the left. Beverly Galloway is standing to the right of the stairs. Courtesy of the National Archives.
Letter written by Flora W. Patterson about the plant pathogens found upon inspection of the Japanese cherry trees shipped from Japan to Seattle and then transported via railroad to Washington, DC
Specimen of a fungus on the Japanese cherry trees that is still unidentified to species. The specimen was collected and identified by Vera K. Charles, one of Patterson’s assistants, and is part of the collections at the U.S. National Fungus Collections
USDA plant pathologists and entomologists inspecting the first set of Japanese cherry trees that were found to be infected with exotic fungi and insects
The first set of Japanese cherry trees being burned on the mall following the discovery of potentially harmful plant pathogens and insects

All captions were written by Amy Rossman in her article about Flora.

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