From Principes (July, 1960), Vol. 4, No. 3: pages 78-79. Click here to view photos.
Report of the Biennial Meeting April 23-24, 1960
A three o’clock the business meeting was called to order by the President. Nixon Smiley, Director of Fairchild Tropical Garden, welcomed the Society, and spoke briefly about the palm collection at the Garden. He said that about thirty new species of palm seeds are received and planted each year. Not all that germinate survive our climate, but others do; these are finally planted out on the grounds, and surplus plants are distributed to members of the Garden. There are many bearing palms at the Garden, now that it is more than twenty years old. Mr. Gerald Pitt, a volunteer worker, collects the seeds, does the tedious work of cleaning off the pulp, and prepares them for shipment to many parts of the world. A good many of the seeds sent to members of the Society through the Seed Bank come from this source.
The officers presented their reports, which are printed in full in this issue of Principes.
The nominating committee was asked to present its slate of officers for the coming biennium: President, Eugene D. Kitzke, Racine, Wis.; Vice President, David Barry, Jr., Los Angeles, Calif.; Secretary, Lucita H. Wait, Miami, Fla.; Treasurer, Walter J. Murray, Miami, Fla. There being no nominations from the floor, the slate was unanimously elected. The incumbent directors were re-elected with the addition of Mrs. David Fairchild and Eugene D. Kitzke.
After a short intermission, Eugene D. Kitzke, newly elected president of the Society, gave an illustrated talk on Copernicia cerifera, the carnaúba wax palm, showing the trees growing wild and also in plantations in northeastern Brasil, methods of obtaining the wax, and hybridization with a view to increasing the yield of wax. He also showed slides of some other species and hybrids of Copernicia, principally in Cuba, which is rich in this genus.
Due to showers, it was impossible for us to have our picnic at the Jennings estate as planned, so volunteers were called upon to help set up tables and chairs in the auditorium, which they did cheerfully and efficiently, and we had our buffet supper right there.
After the room was set back to rights we settled down to hear Leonard J. Brass, botanist of the Archbold New Guinea Expeditions, speak briefly about his trips to New Guinea and show slides of that spectacular island. We also looked at some slides of the palm garden at the Miami flower show and of the tallest Washingtonias at the Los Angeles State and County Arboretum, Arcadia, Calif. In contrast to the tallest palms, Robert G. Wilson showed us a mature living Chamaedorea less than twenty-four inches high.
The main event of the evening was an account of some of the highlights of Dr. Hodge’s recent trips to Australia, Indonesia and Ceylon. We had the pleasure of seeing great fields of Australian wildflowers, spectacular views and unusual tropical plants, as well as some magnificent palms.
On Sunday, we had bad luck again. It rained, and our two bus-loads of palm tourists were forced to spend most of the day inside buses, instead of walking through the promised palm collections. The first place visited was the Frank R. May home, where the cordial reception and gorgeous palms helped to offset the rain dripping down our necks. A refreshing glass of punch helped, too.
Box lunches were served on the loggia at Fairchild Garden, then we entered the buses again and wandered slowly through the Jennings estate and the U.S. Plant Introduction Station, peering out the windows at what could be seen from the roads. It was most disappointing, especially to those who had planned the excursion, but the good sportsmanship of that exceptionally fine group of people, and their cheerfulness through it all, warmed the hearts of their hosts. After all, getting to know each other and sharing our palm enthusiasms was the best part of the whole affair.