Monday, September 3, 2007

A Martyr for Asian botany

"(C.B.) Robinson* was collecting plants which were described by Rumphius in Ambon for a taxononomic revision. At the same time he was collecting in a certain locale several misfortunes befell the local inhabitants and they attributed their bad luck to a red (or red headed) demon in the forest. When Robinson (who was red headed) walked out of the forest, the natives became alarmed and suspicious. Robinson who must have been hungry or thirsty asked for a coconut to be cut for him....instead of asking for a kelapa (coconut) to be cut, he said "kepala" (head). The natives did just that and C.B. Robinson joined the ranks of many martyrs who gave their life for science."

*Charles Budd Robinson, Canadian botanist, murdered on 5 Dec 1913.
From Joseph Arditti, Malayan Orchid Review V23/89

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