Bolander

It grows to three to four feet in height, with one to nine funnel-shaped flowers. It protrudes a yellow throat and pink flowers above that often sport several purple spots. The stamens are short and yellow. This is Lilium bolanderi, Bolander's lily.

This lily blooms in the early summer and is native to only California and Oregon, specifically the western forests of each state. The stems stands close to erect, with its flowers nodding outward. This rare perennial grows at low to mid elevations.

Pinus contorta is a tree familiar to coastal residents. Inland it can grow much taller, but in the sandy, prairie soil immediately adjacent to the Mendocino Coast, Pinus contorta usually rises fifteen to forty feet. In winter winds that's just high enough to bring down power lines and block roads. As a species, Pinus contorta is dependent on recurring fire to maintain healthier, uneven age populations. Excessive wildfire prevention causes overly dense Pinus contorta. This forces hyper-competition among the trees and leaves numerous dead, standing ones. In turn, these become a source of fuel in inevitable fires, fuel that ladders to the crown of living trees. At the crown, fire leaps from tree to tree in an escalating firestorm that is virtually unstoppable.

One subspecies, Pinus contorta bolanderi is endemic to Mendocino County. It is often called beach pine or Bolander's pine. The name for this pine subspecies as well as the rare lily described above derives from Henry Nicholas Bolander. German born in 1831, Henry Bolander emigrated to the United States at fifteen, joining his uncle in Columbus, Ohio. There he attended the Columbus Lutheran Seminary. He graduated in 1850 and was ordained as a minister.

He never served in the religious life, instead he took on a teaching career at German-American schools in the Ohio capital city. Contemporaneous to his 1857 marriage to Anna-Marie Jenner, a widow with three children, Bolander struck up a friendship with a neighbor, Leo Lesquerex. By this time, Lesquerex, twenty-five years Bolander's senior, had already established his reputation as a bryologist and paleobotanist through his extensive studies of peat bogs in Europe and America.

Lesquerex inspired Bolander to travel throughout the Midwest, collecting flora. Within a few short years, Bolander created a catalog of the state's plants for the Ohio Secretary of Agricultrure. 

After a brief health scare, Bolander moved on to San Francisco, where he continued teaching while making friends within the California Academy of Sciences. Connections there and in the California Geological Survey helped him obtain the position of State Botanist.

1864 also marked the opening of the Pioneer House in Littleriver. Its builder and owner was German born as well, Augustus Frederick (A.F.) Mahlmann. Pioneer House became a home away from home for Henry Bolander when his botanical journeys brought him to the Mendocino Coast. Bolander's visits continued from the 1860s to the 1870s, even after his election as statewide Superintendent of Public Instruction. He must have felt an affinity to Mahlmann, who was a lover of flowers. Outside Pioneer House grew a variety of plants, many started from seeds or root stock brought to him by seamen who made Littleriver a port of call.

In his four years in statewide office, Bolander changed the required course of study in California schools, adding music and art to the basic curriculum. His tenure in office coincided with a bent toward educational reforms within the state legislature. Through legislative enactments California led the nation in making education compulsory for children up to fourteen years old. In accordance with Bolander, the legislature passed laws that finally allowed women to serve on school boards and guaranteed women teachers be paid the same as their male counterparts.

Instead of running for re-election to the state job in 1875, Bolander sought and won the post of Superintendent of Schools for San Francisco. After two years in that job, he resigned, pursuing travel to Central and South America, Africa, and Europe.

In the 1880s he settled with his wife Anna Maria (they had five children together) in Portland. He taught modern languages at Bishop Scott Academy until Anna Maria's death in May, 1897. Three months, to the day, later Henry Bolander died at the age of sixty-six. 

A July, 1925, coastal news account got the spelling repeatedly wrong, but captured some of the facts regarding Bolander's repeated visits to Pioneer House at Littleriver. “Mr. and Mrs. Frank Anderson of Eureka were here last week and spent the night at the Pritchard home...Mrs. [Melvina] Anderson is the daughter of Professor Bolanger [sic] and this is her first visit... for 47 years.

“Prof. Bolanger [sic] was the first botanist on this coast and made his headquarters at the old Mahlmann hotel, being a great friend of A.F. Mahlmann.

“Our Mayor, Fred Mahlmann [A.F.'s oldest son], then a small boy, used to collect seeds and specimens for the professor, who will doubtless be remembered by old timers about here. There was a plant named for him, the Bolanger[sic] lily, and a variety of pine tree now growing in quantity back on the prairie, called the Bolanger[sic] pine (beach pine) and, by the way, thousands of acres on the sandy coast of France have been reclaimed and planted with Bolanger [sic] pine which flourishes in sandy soil. The old professor has long since passed away, but the pines he planted still remain and flourish, a monument to his memory.”

A.F. Mahlmann wasn't above propagating a plant that might not be the best of choices. While he planted forget-me-nots, which reseed themselves, along nearby riverbanks, he also seeded pampas grass in his yard as part of an ongoing practical joke. Each year he dyed the pampas grass many different colors to fool neighbors and especially travelers arriving from a distance. Anyone driving from the south toward the bridge over Little River today can still spy plenty of invasive pampas grass on the hill behind.

More about A.F. Mahlmann in the January 18, 2017 archival issue of the AVA.

(Plant yourself in your seat for more historical tales at malcolmmacdonaldoutlawford.com.)

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