Botanists

Botanists are people who study botany (the science of studying plant biology) and conduct research base on their studies. Apart from plants, they also study fungi and algae. Conducting research on fossilized plants is the job of those botanists who have specialized knowledge in paleobotany. Botanists possess specific knowledge in ethnobotany which is the study of the use of plants by different cultures. Identification and classification of new species of plants are some of the important segments of a botanist’s work. Scientific study of plants helps us to comprehend the effect of plants on human and animals. Their study also works to determine the medicinal effect of any plant. Armed with modern scientific equipment, botanists conduct studies into the genetic structure of specific plants. To investigate the effects of various environmental factors like temperature, sunlight, soil and rainfall on plants is a part of a botanist’s profession. By using biochemical and molecular techniques, botanists also examine the nature of evolution of plants. Based on their findings, they prepare scientific reports and papers. They play a key role in developing drugs and other products from plants. Their study plays a vital role in controlling the factors of pollution in nature. What follows is a collection of the biographies, timelines, trivia and other information about the professional and personal lives of some of the world’s most famous botanists.
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 1 Carl Linnaeus

Carl Linnaeus
10
Famous As: Botanist
Birthdate: May 23, 1707
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Linnés Råshults Stiftelse, Älmhult Municipality, Sweden
Died: January 10, 1778

Swedish botanist and lecturer Carl Linnaeus, who established the concept of binomial nomenclature, or the system of naming organisms, is also known as the father of modern taxonomy. His system of classification is known as Linnaean taxonomy. He was the first to include humans and apes under the header Anthropomorpha.

 2 Jagadish Chandra Bose

Jagadish Chandra Bose
20
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: November 30, 1858
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Bikrampur, Bengal Presidency, British India (Now Munshiganj District of Bangladesh)
Died: November 23, 1937

Indian physicist, biologist, and plant physiologist Jagadish Chandra Bose revolutionized science with his research on how plants and animals react to external stimuli. He founded the Bose Institute, made pioneering contribution to the field of radio and microwave optics, and also penned one of the first works of Bengali science fiction.

 3 John Muir

John Muir
4
Famous As: Naturalist
Birthdate: April 21, 1838
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Dunbar
Died: December 24, 1914

John Muir was a Scottish-American naturalist, environmental philosopher, glaciologist, botanist, zoologist, and author. Nicknamed Father of the National Parks and John of the Mountains, Muir was an influential proponent of the preservation of wilderness in the US. He is credited with co-founding the American conservation organization, The Sierra Club. Muir is considered a hero by many environmentalists around the world.

 4 Terence McKenna

Terence McKenna
6
Famous As: Ethnobotanist
Birthdate: November 16, 1946
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Paonia, Colorado, United States
Died: April 3, 2000
Philosopher, ethnobotanist, and public speaker Terence McKenna was the proponent of concepts such as the Novelty Theory and Machine Elf. His work revolved around subjects such as psychedelic drugs, shamanism, alchemy, and metaphysics. He wrote several books and supported the usage of psychedelic mushrooms to experience different states of mind.
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 5 Lynn Margulis

Lynn Margulis
6
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: March 5, 1938
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Chicago
Died: November 22, 2011

Lynn Margulis was an evolutionary theorist, biologist, educator, and science author. She was a modern proponent of the significance of symbiosis in evolution. Along with British chemist James Lovelock, Margulis was the co-developer of the Gaia hypothesis. She was a strong critic of neo-Darwinism. In 2001, she was honored with the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement. 

 6 Marie Stopes

Marie Stopes
4
Famous As: Paleobotanist & Women’s Rights Activists
Birthdate: October 15, 1880
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Edinburgh
Died: October 2, 1958

Apart from being a successful botanist, Marie Stopes was also a popular activist, known for her contribution to the feminist cause. A leading supporter of birth control, she established the UK’s first clinic for family planning. She was also known for her books Married Love and Wise Parenthood.

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 7 Antoine-Augustin Parmentier

Antoine-Augustin Parmentier
8
Famous As: Botanist, Pharmacist, Physician, Agronomist, Nutritionist
Birthdate: August 12, 1737
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Montdidier
Died: December 17, 1813

While in prison, in the aftermath of the Seven Years’ War, army pharmacist Antoine-Augustin Parmentier was forced to eat potatoes, which were considered fit only for prison ration and animal feed back then. Parmentier later persuaded the Paris Faculty of Medicine to declare potatoes edible and popularized them in France.

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 8 Gifford Pinchot

Gifford Pinchot
8
Famous As: Forestry scientist
Birthdate: August 11, 1865
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Simsbury, Connecticut, United States
Died: October 4, 1946
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 9 Joseph Banks

Joseph Banks
6
Famous As: Botanist
Birthdate: February 24, 1743
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: London, England
Died: June 19, 1820

British naturalist Joseph Banks is remembered for accompanying Captain James Cook on his voyage across places such as Brazil and Tahiti. He had also been the president of the Royal Society for over 40 years. Both his herbarium and library now find a place at the British Museum.

 10 David Bellamy

David Bellamy
11
Famous As: Botanist
Birthdate: January 18, 1933
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: London, England, UK

Once regarded as one of the world’s leading experts on botany and the environment, David Bellamy was also a successful TV presenter and was a regular on BBC programs. However, he later claimed that he was shunned by the TV fraternity for his denial of the importance of climate change.

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 11 Gertrude Jekyll

Gertrude Jekyll
8
Famous As: Horticulturist, Painter, Gardener, Non-fiction writer, Botanist, Architect
Birthdate: November 29, 1843
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: London
Died: December 8, 1932

Landscape architect Gertrude Jekyll was born into an affluent family and grew up in a refined environment, learning music and traveling. Initially interested in painting, she gave it up to focus on gardening when she developed eyesight problems. She built around 400 gardens and also collaborated with Sir Edwin Lutyens.

 12 Robert Brown

Robert Brown
8
Famous As: Botanist
Birthdate: December 21, 1773
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Montrose, Scotland
Died: June 10, 1858

Copley Medal-winning Scottish botanist Robert Brown is remembered for his detailed descriptions on topics such as the cell nuclei and what later came to be known as the Brownian motion. After studying medicine, he had also served the British Army as a surgeon and also toured the Australian shores aboard The Investigator.

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 13 Gerard Kuiper

Gerard Kuiper
4
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: December 7, 1905
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Tuitjenhorn, Netherlands
Died: December 24, 1973

Gerard Kuiper was blessed with an unusually sharp eyesight and could see stars clearly with the naked eye. The Dutch-born scientist later moved to the U.S., where he established the University of Arizona’s LPL. He also initiated research on the belt of comets surrounding the Sun, known as the Kuiper belt.

 14 Matthias Jakob Schleiden

Matthias Jakob Schleiden
6
Famous As: Biologist, Botanist, Philosopher, University teacher
Birthdate: April 5, 1804
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Hamburg
Died: June 23, 1881
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 15 Luther Burbank

Luther Burbank
6
Famous As: Horticulturist, Geneticist, Botanist, Gardener, Academic, Non-fiction writer
Birthdate: March 7, 1849
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Santa Rosa
Died: April 11, 1926

Luther Burbank was an American horticulturist and botanist. A pioneer in agricultural science, Luther Burbank developed over 800 varieties of plants and strains in an illustrious career that spanned 55 years. He is also credited with developing a spineless cactus that served as cattle feed. In 1986, Luther Burbank was made an inductee of the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

 16 Joseph Dalton Hooker

Joseph Dalton Hooker
5
Famous As: Botanist
Birthdate: June 30, 1817
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Halesworth, Suffolk, England
Died: December 10, 1911

British botanist Joseph Dalton Hooker is remembered as one of Charles Darwin’s greatest supporters. The man who is known as the pioneer of geographical botany, Hooker followed in the footsteps of his botanist father. The Copley Medal winner is also known for his iconic work Genera Plantarum.

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 17 Jan Ingenhousz

Jan Ingenhousz
6
Famous As: Botanist, Physician, Physicist
Birthdate: December 8, 1730
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Breda
Died: September 7, 1799

The man who discovered photosynthesis, Jan Ingenhousz was born in the Netherlands but later settled in England. He is also remembered for his pioneering research on thermal conduction and the prevention of smallpox and even successfully inoculated the Habsburg family against smallpox. He was also Maria Theresa’s personal doctor.

 18 Patrick Geddes

Patrick Geddes
6
Famous As: Biologist
Birthdate: October 2, 1854
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Ballater, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Died: April 17, 1932

Apart from being a sociologist and biologist, Patrick Geddes was known for his impeccable sense of town planning. While he initially taught botany in Dundee, he later turned to sociology and conducted studies in India, Mexico, and other countries. He was eventually knighted for his achievements.

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 19 David Starr Jordan

David Starr Jordan
6
Famous As: Botanist, Peace activist, Zoologist, Autobiographer, Ichthyologist
Birthdate: January 19, 1851
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Gainesville (village), New York
Died: September 19, 1931

Remembered as the first president of the Leland Stanford Junior University, now known as Stanford University, David Starr Jordan was a reputed ichthyologist. An anti-war activist, too, who opposed America’s participation in World War I, he spent his later years as the chief director of the World Peace Foundation.

 20 Li Ching-Yuen

Li Ching-Yuen
6
Famous As: Herbalist
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: Chongqing, China
Died: May 6, 1933

Li Ching-Yuen was a Chinese martial artist, herbalist, and tactical advisor. Li Ching-Yuen, who is believed to have lived off a diet of rice wine and exotic herbs throughout his life, is best remembered for his extreme longevity claim. According to his claim, Li Ching-Yuen lived for 250 years, although gerontologists consider that to be a myth.

 21 Eva Ekeblad

Eva Ekeblad
6
Famous As: Scientist
Birthdate: July 10, 1724
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Stockholm, Sweden
Died: May 15, 1786

Eva Ekeblad was a Swedish countess, agronomist, salon hostess, and scientist. In 1746, she discovered a method to make flour and alcohol from potatoes which earned her popularity. Her discovery made her the first female inductee of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1748.

 22 Anna Atkins

Anna Atkins
3
Birthdate: 0000 AD

Apart from being a botanist, Anna Atkins was also known for releasing some of the first botanical photographs. The daughter of a scientist, she also illustrated her father’s written works. She remains the first-known person to have used photography for a scientific purpose. She was also part of the London Botanical Society.

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 23 Ynes Mexia

Ynes Mexia
5
Famous As: Botanist
Birthdate: May 24, 1870
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States
Died: July 12, 1938

 24 Hugo de Vries

Hugo de Vries
7
Famous As: Botanist, Biologist, Geneticist, University teacher
Birthdate: February 16, 1848
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Haarlem
Died: May 21, 1935

 25 Martinus Beijerinck

Martinus Beijerinck
3
Famous As: Microbiologist
Birthdate: March 16, 1851
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Died: January 1, 1931

 26 Conrad Gessner

Conrad Gessner
5
Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: March 26, 1516
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Zürich, Switzerland
Died: December 13, 1565

Born to a poor fur dealer, Conrad Gessner was sent to study under an uncle who dealt in medicinal herbs. He then studied theology but later grew up to become a Renaissance polymath, excelling in subjects such as natural history and medicine. His Bibliotheca universalis remains a major work in bibliography.

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 27 Dmitri Ivanovsky

Dmitri Ivanovsky
5
Famous As: Botanist
Birthdate: October 28, 1864
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Gdov, Russia
Died: June 20, 1920

Best remembered for his co-discovery of viruses during his research on the mosaic disease in tobacco, Russian botanist Dmitri Ivanovsky is regarded as one of the pioneers of virology. Interestingly, following his discovery, he didn’t focus on virology much and taught plant anatomy and physiology instead.

 28 Asa Gray

Asa Gray
5
Famous As: Botanist
Birthdate: November 18, 1810
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Sauquoit, New York, United States
Died: January 30, 1888
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 29 Daniel Rutherford

Daniel Rutherford
3
Famous As: Former physician, chemist and botanist who is known for the isolation of nitrogen in 1772
Birthdate: November 3, 1749
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: November 15, 1819

Best known for discovering nitrogen gas, Scottish chemist Daniel Rutherford was also initially a practicing physician. A skilled botanist, he also taught botany at the University of Edinburgh. His other inventions include the maximum and minimum thermometers. He also co-founded the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

 30 Nikolai Vavilov

Nikolai Vavilov
6
Famous As: Former agronomist, botanist and geneticist best known for having identified the centers of origin of cultivated plants
Birthdate: November 25, 1887
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: January 26, 1943
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 31 Joseph Banks Rhine

Joseph Banks Rhine
5
Famous As: Botanist
Birthdate: September 29, 1895
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Pennsylvania, United States
Died: February 20, 1980

 32 Joel Roberts Poinsett

Joel Roberts Poinsett
3
Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: March 2, 1779
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Charleston, South Carolina, United States
Died: December 12, 1851

 33 James Bruce

James Bruce
5
Famous As: Explorer, Archaeologist, Film editor, Botanist
Birthdate: December 14, 1730
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Stirling
Died: April 27, 1794

Scottish explorer James Bruce is best known for his treatises of travel and his discovery of the source of the Blue Nile. Initially a wine merchant, he later became a British consul in Algiers and decided to explore North Africa. He traveled to places such as Syria, Ethiopia, and Egypt.

 34 Peter Simon Pallas

Peter Simon Pallas
5
Famous As: Botanist
Birthdate: September 22, 1741
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: September 8, 1811
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 35 Philipp Franz von Siebold

Philipp Franz von Siebold
5
Famous As: Physician, Botanist
Birthdate: February 17, 1796
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Würzburg, Germany
Died: October 18, 1866

 36 William Bartram

William Bartram
3
Famous As: First Naturalist Who Penetrated the Dense Tropical Forests of Florida
Birthdate: April 20, 1739
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: July 22, 1823
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 37 Francis Darwin

Francis Darwin
5
Famous As: Botanist
Birthdate: August 16, 1848
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Kent
Died: September 19, 1925

Apart from being the third son of legendary naturalist Charles Darwin, Francis Darwin was a botanist in his own right, too. While he initially studied math, he later switched to natural sciences and then also studied medicine. He is best remembered for his contribution to phototropism.

 38 David Douglas

David Douglas
5
Famous As: Botanist
Birthdate: June 25, 1799
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Scone, Perthshire, Scotland
Died: July 12, 1834

 39 Herman Boerhaave

Herman Boerhaave
5
Famous As: Botanist, Physician
Birthdate: December 31, 1668
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Voorhout, Netherlands
Died: September 23, 1738

 40 Stephen Hales

Stephen Hales
5
Famous As: Botanist, Physicist, Chemist
Birthdate: September 17, 1677
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Kent
Died: January 4, 1761

Apart from being a scientist, Stephen Hales was also a clergyman. He went down in history as the first person to quantitatively measure human blood pressure and also discovered transpiration in plants. He also invented surgical and other medical devices. He devoted himself to charitable causes following his wife’s death.

 41 John Gerard

John Gerard
3
Famous As: Botanist
Birthdate: 1545 AD
Birthplace: Nantwich, Cheshire, England
Died: January 31, 1612

British herbalist John Gerard is best remembered for his iconic book The Herball, known as the first catalogue for plants. However, experts feel it was mostly plagiarized from a similar collection by Flemish botanist Rembert Dodoens. Apart from details about plants, he also included folklore in his works.

 42 Lester Frank Ward

Lester Frank Ward
5
Famous As: Botanist
Birthdate: June 18, 1841
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Joliet, Illinois, United States
Died: April 18, 1913

 43 Pierre-Joseph Redouté

Pierre-Joseph Redouté
5
Famous As: Painter
Birthdate: July 10, 1759
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Saint-Hubert, Belgium
Died: June 19, 1840

Belgian-born French painter and botanist Pierre-Joseph Redouté, also known as the Raphael of flowers, was a famous court painter and one of the greatest botanical illustrators of his time. Known for his iconic pieces such as Les Liliacées, he was a specialist of painting roses, too.

 44 John Bartram

John Bartram
3
Famous As: Botanist
Birthdate: March 23, 1699
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Darby, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: September 22, 1777

 45 David Fairchild

David Fairchild
5
Famous As: Botanist
Birthdate: April 7, 1869
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Lansing, Michigan, United States
Died: August 6, 1954

 46 Robert Whittaker

Robert Whittaker
0
Famous As: Botanist, Ecologist
Birthdate: December 27, 1920
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Wichita, Kansas, United States
Died: October 20, 1980

 47 Philip Miller

Philip Miller
3
Famous As: English botanist
Birthdate: 1691 AD
Birthplace: London
Died: December 18, 1771
The son of a gardener, Philip Miller followed in his father’s footsteps and devoted 50 years of his life to the Chelsea Physic Garden as its chief gardener. The Gardeners Dictionary, penned by him, became a gardener’s Bible. He was also named a Fellow of The Royal Society.

 48 Augustin Pyrame de Candolle

Augustin Pyrame de Candolle
5
Famous As: Botanist
Birthdate: February 4, 1778
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Geneva, Switzerland
Died: September 9, 1841

Swiss botanist Augustin Pyrame de Candolle excelled in literature and poetry in school but later focused on botany. He is remembered for establishing scientific standards and classification for plant genera. Known for his Théorie élémentaire de la botanique, he later lent his name to several plant species and genera.

 49 Avempace

Avempace
3
Famous As: Polymath
Birthdate: 1085 AD
Birthplace: Zaragoza, Spain
Died: 1138 AD

Spanish Arab philosopher and scholar Avempace excelled in a variety of subjects, such as astronomy, music, medicine, and poetry. His treatise on botany Kitāb an-Nabāt described how plant sexes differ. His other works include Tadbīr al-mutawaḥḥid. He was believed to be an atheist by many.

 50 Janaki Ammal

Janaki Ammal
7
Famous As: Botanist
Birthdate: 1897 AD
Birthplace: Thalassery
Died: 1984 AD

Janaki Ammal was an Indian botanist whose work concerning phytogeography, cytogenetics, and plant breeding earned her India's fourth-highest honor, the Padma Shri, in 1977. She is credited with improving India’s indigenous sugarcane varieties. She also helped analyze sugarcane's geographical distribution across India.