Dennis Breedlove '57 | Saint Joseph Notre Dame High School

Pilot Profiles

Dennis Breedlove '57

Today, a rare cloud forest is alive and well and living in the San Francisco Botanical Garden because of the work of Dr. Dennis Breedlove, who graduated from St. Joseph High School in 1957.

In the 1960s and early 1970s, Dr. Breedlove, a botanist and curator at the California Academy of Sciences, began studying the plants and flowers of Chiapas, Mexico's southernmost state. He collected specimens, drawing the curiosity of the local Mayans, whom he towered over at 6‘ 6.” He brought back cuttings and seeds to San Francisco because he recognized the similarities in climate with Chiapas.

Among the cuttings he brought back were samples from a large bush with red and gold flowers. Botanists named it Deppea splendens. When Breedlove went back in 1986 to the site in Chiapas where he found it, the shrubs were gone and a cornfield had been planted. The plant has never again been seen in the wild, although it survives in San Francisco, due to Breedlove’s effort.

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