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Hugh Iltis (April 7, 1925 – December 19, 2016) was an American environmentalist and professor of botany.
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- The general biological ignorance bodes ill for democratic decisions on environmental issues.
- (December 1973)"Can one love a plastic tree?". Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America 54 (4): 5-7, 9.
- The classification of biodiversity is the job of taxonomists who, born as packrats and inspired by a compulsion to explore and collect the world's biological riches, will risk life and limb to solve the great puzzles of biogeography, ethnobotany, and evolution.
- (1988)"Serendipity in the exploration of biodiversity". Biodiversity. National Academy Press. pp. 98–105. (quote from p. 98)
- Current evidence suggests that teosinte was first tended for its green ears and sugary pith by hunter-gatherers as an occasional rainy-season food in small “garden” populations away from its homeland, and not for its abundant grain-containing, hard fruitcases, which easily mass-collected but useless as food, are as yet unknown from the archeological record. A rare grain-liberating teosinte mutation (probably expressed in only one “founder” plant, a mazoid “Eve”), which exposed the encased grain for easy harvest, was soon recognized as useful, collected and planted (or self-planted). Thus maize was started on its way to a unique horticultural domestication that is not comparable to that of the temperate Old World mass-selected agricultural grains.
Quotes about Iltis
- As a plant explorer, Iltis led expeditions to Mexico, Guatemala, Peru and Ecuador. His expertise focused on the corn and caper families, but he collected broadly. For example, he discovered two of the 13 species in the tomato genus, including one that proved to have a trait sought in the canning industry.
- David Tenenbaum in: (30 December 2016)"Hugh Iltis, UW's 'battling botanist,' dies at 91". UW-Madison News.