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New lichen species named for U of G tree guru Henry Kock

Guelph Mercury - Scott Tracey, December 19, 2011

New lichen species named for U of G tree guru Henry Kock
Horticulturist Henry Kock, who passed away on Christmas Day 2005, will have a new lichen species named after him.

GUELPH – A newly-discovered species of lichen will be named in honour of renowned University of Guelph horticulturist Henry Kock, who passed away on Christmas Day 2005.

Kock’s wife, Anne Hansen, purchased the scientific naming rights in an online auction earlier this month.
The lichen will be scientifically known as Bryoria Kockiana.

“I think the real icing on the cake will be the common name,” said Kock’s friend and neighbour, Brian Holstein. “Many are already suggesting it should be called Henry’s Beard.”

Hansen said when she decided to buy the rights she hadn’t seen the lichen and had no idea it so resembled Kock’s trademark flowing beard.

“That was a nice coincidence,” she said in a telephone interview from British Columbia, where she moved in 2007.
The lichen – a combination of fungi and algae which provides critical winter food for animals such as caribou and deer – was discovered by BC lichenologist Trevor Goward. He donated the naming rights to support the Ancient Forest Alliance, a new non-profit organization working to protect BC’s old-growth forests.

“I heard about the auction about a month ago but it just sort of went over my head,” said Hansen, a renowned nature artist. “I didn’t really think it applied to me.”

But a couple of weeks ago Hansen heard a CBC Radio interview with Goward about the lack of interest in the naming rights, which Goward suggested was indicative of a general disinterest in the natural world.

“That struck a chord with me,” Hansen said. “Henry really fought to have people take more of an interest in the natural world. It took me about five minutes to decide this was something I should do for Henry.”

She paid $4,000 for the naming rights.

“I think it’s an incredible thing and what a fitting tribute to him,” said Holstein. “Too bad it’s not an elm tree.”
After Kock’s passing, his home was purchased by neighbours who have maintained his spectacular garden.

“But it’s still just referred to as Henry’s place,” Holstein said. “That’s how everyone knows the property. He had such a tremendous impact on the whole city and on this neighbourhood.”

Hansen said her husband was a “tireless champion” of biodiversity and inconspicuous species.

“Whenever he spoke he would never forget to mention the unglamorous species like the sedges and toads and lichens,” Hansen said. “He appreciated that every species has a role to play and without these little things the bigger ones couldn’t survive.”

Hansen said while she is unsure what her “forest defender” would have made of having a species named for him, she knows he would have liked the idea of naming it for a loved one.

“I thought about that, and if such an opportunity had been available to him I believe he would have named a species in honour of his sister, Irene, a well-known anti-nuclear activist who was killed in a (2001) car accident,” Hansen said. “I think he’s smiling down.”

Read the article in the Guelph Mercury at: http://www.guelphmercury.com/news/local/article/641081--new-lichen-species-named-for-u-of-g-tree-guru-henry-kock
 


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