Gertrude Simmons Burlingham     (1872 - 1952)


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Biography
Sources
Other Web Sources
Selected publications
Species

Biography

1872     April 21, born in Mexico, New York

1898     earns BS from Syracuse University

1898 - 1905     teaches biology in Binghamton, NY

1908     earns doctorate at Columbia University

1908     teaches high school biology in Brooklyn

1934     retires to Florida, joining other mycologist friends there

Burlingham did most of her early work at and for the New York Botanical Gardens, where she worked with William Alphonso Murrill. She eventually retired to Florida, where she collaborated with Henry Curtis Beardslee, who also retired there. And of course, Murrill would have been around also...

Burlingham did a lot of important early work on the genera Lactarius and Russula in the United States. Some of her species have been renamed by other researchers for no apparent reason (see, for example, Russula vinacea), but Ray Fatto is hard at work restoring the originals.

Fatto credits Burlingham with refinements in the classification of spore ornamentation that are very important in identifying the Russulas. Basically, almost all Russula spores are spiny to some extent, a condition that was usually described rather simply as echinulate. Burlingham noticed that the spines were often connected by a network of ridges and called this network a reticulum, a complete one if all the spines were connected, a partial one if only some of them were. This sort of characteristic is now considered essential to identifying the Russula species. She emphasized its importance, and the importance of staining the spores with iodine in order to bring it out.

Fatto notes

"Unfortunately, Murrill did not heed her words of wisdom for obviously iodine was not used to stain spores during the 1938 to 1945 period when he described the Russulas of Florida." (p. 5)


A story about her from Murrill's autobiography tells of an adventure she created for another naturalist, while collecting in the Pisgah forest in North Carolina in 1908 (thanks to David Rose for sending me the original text):

"Two students of the Garden, Miss Gertrude Burlingham and a pretty Vassar graduate, were afterwards camping in this same forest when a visiting forestry student informed them that rattlesnakes were good to eat. A few days later they killed a fat one, skinned and cooked it, and invited the student to supper. When he caught sight of the long dish in the center of the table and saw what was in it he developed a sudden illness and had to leave for home immediately. Thus do our sins often return upon our own heads!"


Weber & Smith, after paraphrasing this story, wonder "what it was the women ate after they quit laughing." (p. 20) But I believe that rattlesnakes actually are edible. Maybe the real moral is never to underestimate what a mushroom-hunter will eat.
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Sources

Ray Fatto (1997) "The genus Russula - a method of study" in McIlvainea

Nancy Smith Weber & Alexander Hanchett Smith (1985) A Field Guide to Southern Mushrooms

William Alphonso Murrill (1945) Autobiography


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Other Web Sources

Burlingham papers at NYBG

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Selected Publications

Gertrude Simmons Burlingham (1908) "A study of the Lactariae of the United States" in Memoirs of the Torrey Botanical Club 14 pp. 1 - 109

Gertrude Simmons Burlingham (1913) "The Lactarieae of the Pacific Coast" in Mycologia 5 pp. 305 - 311

Gertrude Simmons Burlingham (1915) "Russula" in North American Flora 9 pp. 201 - 236

Gertrude Simmons Burlingham (1918) "New species of russula from Massachusetts" in Mycologia 10 pp. 93 - 96

Gertrude Simmons Burlingham (1921) "Some new species of Russula" in Mycologia 13 pp. 129 - 134

Gertrude Simmons Burlingham (1924) "Notes on species of Russula" in Mycologia 16 pp. 16 - 23

Gertrude Simmons Burlingham (1936) "New or noteworthy species of Russula and Lactaria" in Mycologia 28 pp. 253 - 267

Gertrude Simmons Burlingham (1939) "Two new species of Russula together with the spore ornamentation of some of our american Russulas" in Mycologia 31 pp. 490 - 498

Gertrude Simmons Burlingham (1942) "Spore ornamentation of some american Russulae and a new species of Lactaria" in Mycologia 34 pp. 8 - 12

Gertrude Simmons Burlingham (1944) "Studies in north american Russulae" in Mycologia 36 pp. 104 - 120


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Species

Lactarius croceus Burlingham
Lactarius paradoxus Burlingham & H. C. Beardslee
Russula astringens Burlingham
Russula brunneola Burlingham
Russula corallina Burlingham
Russula fucosa Burlingham
Russula gracilis Burlingham
Russula humidicola Burlingham
Russula perplexa Burlingham
Russula variata var. simulans (Burlingham) Fatto
Russula vesicatora Burlingham
Russula vinacea Burlingham

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