Gloria Galeano

The Queen of the Palms

April 22, 1958
Today is the birthday of the Colombian botanist and agronomist Gloria Galeano.

Known as "The Queen of the Palms," Gloria devoted her entire career to studying and classifying the palm family.

A passionate teacher and researcher at the National University of Colombia, Gloria classified more than 260 species of Palm in 45 wild genera.

It isn't easy to imagine, but at the beginning of the 1980s, Colombian palm taxonomy was almost non-existent. As a result, Gloria worked in concert with her partner Rodrigo Bernal to resolve this issue.

After decades of fieldwork, Gloria and Rodrigo published their groundbreaking work Palmas de Colombia Field Guide, the most exhaustive Flora of Colombian Palms.

Gloria never tired in her devotion to the subject of palms. Rather, Gloria authored or co-authored numerous works on palms, including over seventeen books, fifteen book chapters, sixty-eight scientific articles, and ten electronic works.

And when Gloria Galeano first saw pictures of the newly discovered Sabinaria magnifica palm (named for Gloria and Rodrigo's daughter, Sabina), she described it as "the most beautiful of all Colombian palms." \

Gloria was remembered for telling her students,

"any project in which we would get involved, should be thrilling and make our blood boil"

A leading voice for conservation efforts for Columbian palms, Gloria was well aware of the harvesting impacts on Colombian plants and Neotropical palms. 

In June of 2015, Gloria co-organized the World Palm Symposium. At the event, Gloria revealed that less than four percent of tropical dry forest remains in the Colombia Caribbean region.

Gloria died in 2016.

Today, Gloria's legacy lives on in the plans for the conservation and sustainable use of the native wax palm.

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Gloria Galeano courtesy NY Botanic Garden
Gloria Galeano courtesy NY Botanic Garden
Gloria Galeano courtesy savia botanica
Gloria Galeano courtesy savia botanica

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