Archive for July 3rd, 2016

July 3, 2016

Elizabeth Coleman White

whitesbog

Elizabeth Coleman White (1871 – 1954) was a New Jersey agricultural specialist who collaborated with botanist Frederick Vernon Coville to develop and commercialize cultivated blueberries. White was Quaker, graduating from the Friends’ Central School in Philadelphia in 1887. Afterwards she worked at her father’s farm, Whitesbog in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, supervising cranberry pickers in the bogs. Pine barrens are plant communities that occur on dry, acidic, infertile soils dominated by grasses, low shrubs, and small to medium-sized pines.

In the early part of the 20th century, White offered pineland residents cash for wild blueberry plants with unusually large fruit. Her collaboration with Coville began in 1910. Their project revealed the importance of soil acidity (blueberries need highly acidic soil), that blueberries do not self-pollinate, and the effects of cold on blueberries and other plants. Their work doubled the size of some strains’ fruit, and by 1916, Coville had succeeded in cultivating blueberries, making them a valuable crop in the Northeastern United States.

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