David Douglas and His Tree

January 24

But one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 3:13-14 NKJV

The year was 1825, and David Douglas was only 26 years old as he sailed along the west coast of the United States and up the Columbia River. The young botanist from London was on a quest. Since the age of 11 he had been obsessed with plants, and at the age of 21 he was ap­pointed to the Royal Botanical Gardens in Scotland. Now, five years later, he was to ex­amine the plant life of the New World.

As the ship approached land, one particu­lar tree captivated David. As he reported later, “So pleased was I that I could scarcely see any­thing but it.” He couldn’t wait to see the tree up close, and when he did, he pronounced it “one of the most striking and truly graceful objects in nature.” It was only fitting that the tree would later bear his name, as it does to this day—the Douglas fir

David spent the next two years exploring the Northwest, finding new plants and ship­ping them back to England. His first shipment included 500 species, proving the words of William Hooker, one of the world’s leading botanists, who described him as a man of “great activity, undaunted courage, singular abstemiousness, and energetic zeal.” The Native Americans were immensely impressed with David’s endurance, but they questioned his sanity. In fact, they called him “Man of Grass” because he would hike from first light to dark collecting plants that he couldn’t eat.

On his 1829 trip to North America, David made a discovery that eventually rocked the New World. While collecting plants in California, he pulled a plant from soil that contained gold. In fact, the sample had so much gold that flecks clung to the roots as he packed the plant for shipment. But David saw only the plant. That’s the way that California gold was first discovered in 1831—not by Douglas in California, but by the botanists in London who unpacked the shipment of plants.

David Douglas had only one purpose in life. Nothing—not even gold—could distract him from his mission. And this mission was well established by the time he was 11 years of age. That is the sort of energetic zeal that God wants from youth today

Nature Quest – James & Priscilla Tucker