The Queen of the Palms

#OTD On this day in 1958 Gloria Galeano was born.

Known as "The Queen of the Palms," Galeano was a Colombianbotanist and agronomist and she devoted her entire career to studying and classifying the palm family. A passionate teacher and researcher at the National University of Colombia, She classified more than 260 species of Palm in 45 wild genera.

It's difficult to imagine, but at the beginning of the 1980s, Colombian palm taxonomy was almost non-existent. Thus, Galeano worked in concert with her partner Rodrigo Bernal to resolve this issue. After decades of fieldwork, they published their groundbreaking workPalmas de Colombia Field Guide; the most exhaustive Flora of Colombian Palms.

Galeano never tired in her devotion to the subject of Palms, she was the author or co-author of some seventeen books, fifteen book chapters, sixty-eight scientific articles and ten electronic works, mostly on the palm as highlighted by the Institute of Natural Sciences. When Gloria Galeano first saw pictures of the newly discovered Sabinaria magnifica palm (named for her daughter, Sabina with Rodrigo Bernal), she described it as "the most beautiful of all Colombian palms." She was remembered for telling her students, "any project in which we would get involved, should be thrilling and make our blood boil"

Galeano was well aware of the harvest impacts of Colombian plants and Neotropical palms, and she was a leading voice for conservation efforts for Columbian palms. In June of 2015, Galeano co-organized the World Palm Symposium. At the event, Galeano revealed that less than four percent of tropical dry forest remains in the Colombia Caribbean region. Galeano died in 2016. Today, her 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