Submitted to: CSSA Special Publications
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/31/2023
Publication Date: 4/27/2023
Citation: Coyne, C.J., Eizenga, G.C., Warburton, M.L., Liu, S. 2023. Plant Exploration, the why of the Frank N. Meyer Medal. CSSA Special Publications. 68(5):42-44. https://doi.org/10.1002/csan.21020.
Technical Abstract: The Frank N. Meyer Medal for Plant Genetic Resources, awarded annually by the Crop Science Society of America, is in honor of Meyer’s contributions to U.S. agriculture. Frank N. Meyer was a Dutch-American horticulturalist hired by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1901 at the Santa Ana, CA Plant Introduction Station. USDA Office of Seed and Plant Introduction then hired Meyer in 1905 to conduct plant explorations and collecting trips in central and eastern Asia, primarily in China. Meyer collected and brought to U.S. agriculture over 2,500 seed and propagules of crops, nut and fruit trees and horticultural specimens. Meyer conducted four major collection trips over twelve years between 1905 and 1918 primarily in China, but also Europe and Russia. Meyer’s ill-fated last expedition to China in 1916 and ended with his untimely death by drowning in the Yangtze River in 1918. The genetics of his collections live on from the extensive U.S. distribution of Meyer’s collected seed and propagules by the USDA. One of his most famous introductions is the Meyer lemon, still available from commercial nurseries. Upon his death, Meyer bequest in his will a sum of $1000 to his colleagues in the Plant Introduction who in turn created a medal honoring Meyer to award others for meritorious contributions to plant introductions. The American Genetics Genetic Association agreed to present the award, first given in 1920 to 1982. In 1983, the award duties were turned over to the Crop Science Society of America. The Frank N. Meyer Medal for Plant Genetic Resources has been awarded to 79 plant genetic resource heroes over the last 105 years. The work of plant introductions continue to this day through the work of USDA Plant Exchange Office.