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Wellington, the Capital City of New Zealand

Who was 
                  Albert Kellogg ?

 Dr Albert Kellogg,
aged 72

Albert Kellogg was born in Connecticut USA on 6th December, 1813.. He eventually became a medical student at the Medical College of South Carolina and graduated with his M.D. degree from Transylvania University in Kentucky. Kellogg was drawn to California in the gold rush of 1848. However, when he arrived he found that it had already peaked and he decided to move to San Francisco, California. It was during his journey to California that he was introduced to the diverse flora associated with that area. It was there that he resumed his medical practice and also opened a drugstore. Apparently, he was not very successful at either venture. “Dr. Kellogg, was almost too much engrossed with hunting and working over new plants to patiently wait upon customers,” He was never known to request payment for his services. Neglect for his profession was balanced by enthusiasm for plants and one of seven men who organised the California Academy of Sciences in 1853. Kellogg was devoted to the organization from its inception. He served it in various administrative roles (e.g., vice-president, librarian, curator, and director of the museum), and was appointed to numerous committees, and was a frequent and vocal participant at the meetings. He became an important botanical collector. One of his forward thinking ideas was the inclusion of women in scientific and natural history work, and and he subsequently hired two women as curators.

The “Eastern” botanical establishment was not always appreciative of the attempts by the “amateurs and upstarts” in the West (who lacked adequate library and herbarium collections) to publish their new discoveries. In fact, the prominent Harvard University botanist Asa Gray described Kellogg as a “good meaning soul” but “a nuisance in the science” However, another prominent “Eastern” botanist, John Torrey, honored him by proposing Kelloggia, a genus of Rubiaceae from the Sierra Nevada. Irrespective of any faults as a botanist, Kellogg’s abilities and productivity as a botanical illustrator were widely considered to be of high quality.

He travelled in the western states of the USA, especially Oregon and North California in the years 1843-44. He made the earliest scientific description of the big trees of California, which appeared in 1845 and. also explored the republic of Texas with John J. Audubon, at the time of its annexation to the United States. He later made botanical explorations along the western coast of America from Terra del Fuego, to Alaska. In 1867 he visited Alaska in the capacity of botanist of the special expedition under Prof. George Davidson, of the U.S. Coast Survey, and made large collections of the plants of the coastal region, of which he furnished complete collections to the Smithsonian Institution, the Philadelphia Academy of Sciences, and the California Academy of Sciences. He was a frequent contributor to scientific journals and to state and national reports. His more important work consists of 400 beautiful botanical drawings of the West American Oaks (1889)  (CLICK LINK FOR MORE INFORMATON) , and at the time of his death he had in preparation a similar series covering the West American pines.

Kellogg’s speciality was the study of trees and he was the first botanist to undertake a systematic study of Sequoiadendron giganteum in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, which even today is valued because of its thoroughness and accuracy.

Kellogg spent his last years in Alameda, near San Francisco Bay and died on March 31, 1887. As noted in the history of the Academy "Although he has been considered as the first resident botanist in central California, like his colleagues at the young Academy, he was not a professional botanist, but a lover of nature with a remarkably inquisitive mind. The esteem in which he was held by his colleagues (and in consideration of his poor financial state and services he had freely furnished to the institution) is evident by their cancellation of his unpaid dues and awarding him a life membership in 1866. With his gentle and unassuming manner, Kellogg made significant botanical discoveries in his adopted state, spurred the early growth of the first scientific institution in the West, influenced many of the early naturalists who were drawn to the Academy, demonstrated an early interest in conservation, and opened a new career path to women.".


Albert Kellogg's illustrations of West Amercan Oaks published 1889, shortly after his death

So far we have just looked at his American activities. Let us now consider Dr Kellogg's role in the development of the Garden.

The first Director of our Garden, James Hector, had the problem of sourcing plants for the new Garden. He was concerned that timber and firewood were in short supply in parts of the developing colony, and the provision of suitable shelter in grassland areas to protect farmer homesteads and provide stock shelter was seen as a priority. The need to trial plants to see what was suitable for our soils and climate was recognised by the authorities. In 1868 in Christchurch Edward Robinson and Aubery Park Station in Canterbury received some tree seed from Dr Kellogg. This was successfully raised, and Dr Kellogg was subsequently asked to provide the NZ Government with significant quantities of Californian conifer seed which was imported by the Government and Garden between 1870 and 1877, although some trees were established earlier in the Garden from plants variously sourced.

Giant sequoia first described by Kellogg

While some seed had been imported privately, the first official purchase of seed was made in San Francisco by William Gray of the Post Office. This was subsequently distributed around the country, the Wellington Botanic Garden receiving its share. Of the plants imported, two in particular were showing significant promise – Cupressus macrocarpa and Pinus radiata. The results confirmed the experience obtained from the first recorded importation of Pinus radiata in particular, which occurred in 1859 and which was performing well in many locations around the colony. Eventually some 25.5 kg of Pinus radiata seed (not cones) was forwarded from California, much of which was germinated in the Wellington Botanic Garden and distributed throughout the country. This resulted in some hundreds of thousands of plants being propagated and planted throughput the country.



In August 1871, James Hector, on behalf of the Colonial Secretar

1871 List of Conifers
suggested by Hector
to Dr Kellogg

(Plant Names as in
original document)

Califoruian firs
Abies Douglcsii
Abies mertensiana
Silver firs
Abies picea bracteata
Abies picea nobilis
Abies picea balsama
Abies hookeriana
Abies menziesii
Abies picea amabilis
Abies picea grandis
Abies picea frascri"
Califoruian Pines
Pinus muricata
Pinus benthamiana*
Pinus fremontiana
Pinus insignis*
Pinus jeffreyi
Pinus coulteri
Pinus pondcrosa*
Pinus radiata
Pinus contorta
Pinus sabiniana
Pinus tuberculata
Pinus lambertiana
Pinus monticola
American firs
Abies alba
Abies nigra
Abies rubra
Abies canadensis
Pines
Pinus inops
Pinus mitis
Pinus resinosa
Pinus australis
Pinus rogoda
Pinus taeda
Mexican firs
Pinus llaveana
Pinus patula
Califomian
Cupressus macrocarpa*
Cupressus lawsonia*
Wellington gigantea*
Thuya gigantea
Sequoia sempervirens*
Juniperus californica


* Seed of the species
Hector suggested
and that were supplied by
Dr Kellogg
arc marked
with an asterisk.

y wrote to Dr Kellogg (extract):

"I venture to ask your assistance in carrying out the recommendations ....of the Committee of the Legislature on Colonial Industries. The desire ofthe Government is not so much the introduction of a great variety of forest trees as to be able to supply the seeds of those kinds which are most likely to be raised successfully in large quantities. Arrangements have been made to have the seeds raised in local nurseries in the district where the young trees are to be distributed and the Government has authorised the expenditure of a sum not exceeding 200 pounds in the first instance for the purpose of procuring the seed. I enclose a list only with the idea of suggesting the species that we find most suitable to the climate - no wish to limit you to the list or to require that all be sent. Mr Richardson of Christchurch informs me that he had written to you fully giving his experience in packing the seeds and I recommend you to adopt his suggestions. "

It is interesting to look at the list of plants supplied to Dr Kellogg and note that the plants he did supply have stamped their character on our Garden.

This list was based on an earlier one Alfred Ludlam had prepared for the Colonial Secretary; Ludlam explained the reasons for his suggestions and gave advice on how the seeds should be packed. Unfortunately the following advice was not always heeded.

"List attached is confined to varieties growing in California as well as the best from Northern States of America and from Mexico. New York should furnish Northern species whilst Government should authorise seedsmen at San Francisco to obtain them as opportunity offers (from Mexico). I mention pines from Mexico because they are quite new to us in New Zealand and of a very beautiful character and I think well suited to the New Zealand climate. I have a few which arc doing quite well. While the government are spending money on such a good object for the future I think they should obtain those varieties which will give the plantations of the country character, a collection such as I have named would be valuable to be distributed over the Colony. The seeds should be packed in a canvas bag and hung up in a cabin on the voyage"


Some idea of Dr Kellogg's collecting operations in California were given in his reply to Hector 18 October 1871:

"The order for Californian forest tree seeds came to hand so late that I find it impossible to send a full supply.These seeds are mostly from my South Californian Coast expedition. My North Coast expedition was not in by the time allotted, and though often urgently written to for whatever could be sent here before the 10th inst., none have come in, and only a few have been received from the Sierras. I am unable to send any of the silver firs, and some of the spruces here seldom open before frost, which sometimes holds off late. Hence the list is meagre compared with what it ought to be, had a previous understanding of the urgency of your requirements been impressed upon the parties. Under the circumstances, I felt reluctant, hesitating whether to make up a package or not; but at the suggestion of Mr Collie, I concluded to do so. Another year they can mostly, if not all, be ready perhaps early enough for - say 10th October.”


The first parcel of seed sent to the Garden occurred in 1871, with importations continuing to 1884/85. The seed was either distributed, or germinated and seedlings distributed widely throughout the country. Pinus radiata seed weighing some 25.5 kg in total was received. The full story of the plant importations, refer to Winsome Shepherd's chapters in the Garden History. 2

In the establishment of the Pinus radiata plantation industry in this country, recent studies have confirmed that some of the significant breeding stock used by the industry can be traced back to plants brought in and distributed through the Wellington Botanic Garden, with a number of the currently used breeding trees carrying DNA markers from specimens in the Garden. Dr Kellogg's procedure of randomly collected seed from wild stock was a key feature of the establishment of this species, and we, and indeed all New Zealander's, should pause and thank this gentleman for his efforts. You can be certain that he would not have contemplated that the plants he forwarded would play such an important part in this country, and indeed throughout the world.

Pinus radiata is endemic to central coastal California coast. The northernmost stand is east of point Año Nuevo, the central stand 48 km to the south near Monterey and Carmel, and the southernmost stand about 105 km away in the Pico Creek-Cambria area. In addition to these three separate populations there are a further two island stands off the coast of Baja California on the Isla Guadalupe and Cedros Island. These last two populations are now considered to comprise a distinct variety (Pinus radiata var. binata), and differ from the mainland form in having two-needled fascicles, whereas the usual form has three. It has been noted that the trees are generally unbranched from the Monterey plantations, but are highly branched from the Año Nuevo forest. The original seed was sourced from all areas, and both growth forms can be seen in our old Garden trees.


Most of Kellogg's paintings and drawings where destroyed in the San Francisco earthquake and subsequent fire in 1906.  Two that have survived are shown
A. Lilium pardalinum Kellogg (from Proc. Calif. Acad. Nat. Sci. 2:opposite page 12. 1863).
B. Mentzelia cordata Kellogg (= Eucnide cordata (Kellogg) Kellogg ex Curran; from Proc. Calif. Nat. Sci. 2:opposite page 33. 1863).


Herbarium specimen collected by Albert Kellogg
Kellogg’s holotype collection of Penstemon kingii S Wats. var.
glaucus Kellogg (= P. speciosus Dougl. ex Lindl. fide annotations by D. Keck in 1941 and J.T. Howell in 1980).

Habitat loss from urban encroachment and the fragmentation of stands remains the greatest threat to the native populations, which contain the genetic diversity of this widely planted species. When the understory is cleared, the health of the pine forest as a whole suffers. Roads prevent the flow of genes and hinder range expansion. Like a lot of coastal California, condensation of the coastal fog provides an important moisture source; a decrease or change in the distribution of fog could reduce the amount of moisture the trees receive from fog drip. In addition, the reduction in natural fire frequency resulting from development has encouraged the spread of pathogens. All three of the remaining native stands of var. radiata are infected and under threat of extinction from pitch canker, a fungal disease native to the southeast United States and found (in 1986) to have been introduced to California. When trees begin to die of the disease, they attract bark beetles which provide a pathway for infection of other trees. In some stands, 80-90% of trees are infected.

Ribes nevadense Kellogg. “Dr. Kellogg also exhibited a complete drawing of a species of wild Black
Mountain Currant, together with specimens of the bush and ripe fruit.” (Proc. Calif. Acad. Nat. Sci. 1, ed. 2:9. 1873.)

Plant breeders often want to introduce new characteristics into their plants, and often this is best achieved by going back to the original species and making selection of the characteristics desired. As previously noted the native habitat stands are under pressure. Genetic mixing is also though to be occurring, as modern trees have been breeding there with the native stock. Therefore the plant breeders are uncertain that many of the Californian trees in fact contain original genetic material only. The plants in the Wellington Botanic Garden were obtained from randomly selected stock, and those that have survived are genetically pure species. We therefore have a store of genetic material which is,and will continue to be, valuable to plant geneticists, not only in this country but overseas as well.

In their native habitat the trees have an estimated natural life of only 30-50 years. Our trees are now over 130 years old, and many are showing their age. To preserve their valuable genetic material, a number have been vegetatively propagated through cuttings, and these are now growing in the Garden, and will be planted when established to ensure the survival of these trees for future generations, valuable not only to us because of their history, but for their diverse genetic material.
Next time you pass a radiata pine, give it a hug. You owe it and Dr Kellogg a special vote of thanks for the contribution made to the prosperity of this country, not to mention the unique vista the trees provide to our Garden.

Many individuals involved in the initial establishment of the Garden have been honoured by having a feature named after them (Hector, Ludlam, Buchanan, Bramley, Wakefild). Perhaps it is time to grant similar recognition to Dr Kellogg, he deserves it - The Kellogg Grove where the propagated Pinus radiata are planted, or by naming a path – e.g. the unnamed path off Pine Hill Path past Pinus roxburghii's (not a Californian tree) towards Druid Hill and the other pines is also a possibility.

More information on Albert Kellogg, with biographical data from the California Academy Of Sciences, and details from his book Oaks of North West  America.  Click to access.

Albert Kellogg was a foundation member of the Californian Academy of Sciences.  A recent article on the first 150 years of that organisation includes much information on Dr Kellogg.

To download pdf file click

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