botany

Katherine Esau and the Anatomy of Plants

Katherine Esau and the Anatomy of Plants

On April 3, 1898, German-American botanist Katherine Esau was born. Esau did groundbreaking work in the structure and workings of plants. She is best known for her research into the effects of viruses upon plant tissues, and her studies of plant tissue structures and physiology. “I found ways of maintaining spiritual independence while adjusting myself to established policies. . . . I have never felt that my career was being affected by the…
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Horticulturist Liberty Hyde Bailey

Horticulturist Liberty Hyde Bailey

On December 25, 1954, American horticulturist and botanist Liberty Hyde Bailey passed away. Bailey helped to create the science of horticulture. He made systematic studies of cultivated plants, and advanced knowledge in hybridization, plant pathology, and agriculture. He was a recognized authority on sedges, tropical palms, blackberries, grapes, cabbages, pumpkins and squashes, among others. He is particularly notable for his great encyclopedias (Cyclopedia of American Agriculture, in four volumes, 1907-9) and important…
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Henry Nicholas Ridley and the Rubber Tree

Henry Nicholas Ridley and the Rubber Tree

On December 10, 1855, English botanist, geologist and naturalist Henry Nicholas Ridley was born. Ridley was instrumental in introducing rubber trees in the Malay Peninsula and for his fervour in promoting it became known as “Mad Ridley”. Henry Ridley grew up in Kent, he was educated at Tonbridge and later Haileybury. He graduated in 1878 and received a Burdett-Coutts scholarship that let him conduct research on fossil from quarries near Oxford. He…
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Gilbert White’s Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne

Gilbert White’s Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne

On July 18, 1720, pioneering English naturalist and ornithologist Gilbert White was born. He is best known for his work Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne, in which over the course of 20 years of his observations and two colleagues’ letters, he studied a wide range of flora and fauna seen around his hometown of Selborne, Hampshire. The book is a classic work of natural history, has been in print continuously since…
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Sir Ferdinand von Mueller – Government Botanist

Sir Ferdinand von Mueller – Government Botanist

On June 30, 1825, German-Australian physician, geographer, and botanist Baron Sir Ferdinand Jacob Heinrich von Mueller was born. Von Mueller migrated to Australia in 1848 for health reasons, and there became the country’s greatest 19th-century scientist as a great botanical collector and writer. His contributions covered a wide field of sciences such as geography, pharmacy, horticulture, agriculture, forestry, paleontology, and zoology. His activity as a botanist is shown by hundreds of Australian…
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David Douglas and the Douglas Fir

David Douglas and the Douglas Fir

On June 25 1799, Scottish botanist David Douglas was born. Douglas was one of the most successful of the great 19th century plant collectors. Today, he is best known as the namesake of the Douglas fir. He worked as a gardener, and explored the Scottish Highlands, North America, and Hawaii, where he died. David Douglas was apprenticed to the head gardener at Scone Palace, the seat of the Earl of Mansfield and spent several years…
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Catherine Furbish and the Native Flora of Maine

Catherine Furbish and the Native Flora of Maine

On May 19, 1834, American botanist Catherine Furbish was born. Furbish collected, classified and illustrated the native flora of Maine. She devoted over 60 years of her life, traveling thousands of miles throughout her home state and creating very accurate drawings and watercolour paintings of the plants she found. Catherine Furbish was born on May 19, 1834 in Exeter, New Hampshire, U. S. A., the eldest child and only daughter of Benjamin and Mary Lane…
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The Botanical Collections of José Celestino Mutis

The Botanical Collections of José Celestino Mutis

On April 6, 1732, Spanish priest, botanist and mathematician José Celestino Mutis was born. Between 1783 and 1808, Mutis tirelessly led an extraordinary endeavor to collect and illustrate the plants of Colombia, assembling one of the richest botanical collections in the world of his time. José Celestino Mutis began studying medicine at the College of Surgery in Cádiz. There, Mutis also studied physics, chemistry, and botany. He graduated from the University of…
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William Withering and the Clinical Value of Digitalis

William Withering and the Clinical Value of Digitalis

On March 17, 1741, English botanist, geologist, chemist, physician William Withering was born. From his interest in botany, he paid attention to folk remedies used by herb-gatherers, and discovered digitalis, a very useful drug used to steady and strengthen heart action. William Withering’s career choice was first highly influenced by his father, an apothecary and his uncle, a physician. Withering began his studies at the University of Edinburgh in 1762 which included a large medical curriculum…
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Theophrastus of Eresos – the Father of Botany

Theophrastus of Eresos – the Father of Botany

Theophrastos of Eresos, who studied in Plato’s philosopher’s school, is most famous for his groundbreaking work on plants. Thus, he is often referred to as the ‘father of botany’. His two surviving botanical works, Enquiry into Plants (Historia Plantarum) and On the Causes of Plants, were an important influence on Renaissance science. Theophrastus of Eresos was a native of Eresos in Lesbos and his given name was Tyrtamus. It is believed that…
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