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Deb Lewis, Botany, (515) 294-9499
Thomas Lammers, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, (920) 424-1002
Dave Gieseke, Liberal Arts and Sciences, (515)294-7742
Teddi Barron, News Service, (515) 294-4778


AMES, Iowa -- An Iowa State University alumnus and botanist, who identifies plant species for the Smithsonian and other research institutions, has named a newly discovered species after the botany professor who sparked his interest in plants during freshman year.

Thomas Lammers named a new species in the bellflower family Burmeistera knaphusii Lammers, after botany professor George Knaphus, who died in 2000. Knaphus was on the faculty from 1964 until 2000.

Lammers is an assistant professor and the herbarium curator in the biology and microbiology department at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. He earned his bachelor's degree in botany from Iowa State in 1977 and his doctoral degree from The Ohio State University, Columbus, in 1988.

Lammers is frequently asked to identify unknown specimens by the Missouri Botanical Garden, New York Botanical Garden and the Smithsonian Institution. The institutions routinely send him unidentified plants, primarily from Andean South America.

The new plant species was discovered in a relatively unexplored portion of the Golondrinas Mountains of northern Ecuador by W.S. Hoover, a scientist affiliated with the Missouri Botanical Garden. The Burmeistera knaphusii Lammers is a woody vine with flowers more than an inch long.

"It is customary in botany to name species for botanists who have made valuable contributions to our science," Lammers said.

"Dr. K (Knaphus) was instrumental in starting me down what has been an extremely rewarding career path," Lammers said. "I owe him an enormous debt of gratitude for his time, effort and encouragement during my four years at Iowa State. In my entire academic career, I have never known a professor who was as dedicated to instilling a love of plants in students as Dr. K."

Lammers said Knaphus first opened his eyes to the marvels of the plant and fungal kingdoms.

"I was a journalism major when I took his non-majors' botany course my freshman year," Lammers said. "He was such an engaging teacher, so adept at making the topic at hand fascinating, that I immediately changed majors.

"I would not be a professional botanist today were it not for George Knaphus."


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