John N. Darby

Tension in the Botany World

Today is the anniversary of the death of the botanist and chemist John N. Darby, who died on this day in 1877.
In 1841, Darby wrote one of the earliest floras, and he focused on the southeastern United States. His flora was practical and regional, so it's no surprise that his work became a textbook for botany in the South East. After John Torrey and Asa Gray had released their North American Flora, Darby's work was one of many regional floras that started popping up all over the United States. Sadly, Darby's work was basically dissed by Asa Gray, who felt that Darby's work was amateurish. This dismissal was too hasty and ignored the rigorous botanizing performed by Darby throughout the South East and his evident grasp of the distribution of plants throughout the South.
Darby taught at Auburn University; at the time, it was known as the East Alabama Male College. Darby was the "Julia Ann Hamiter" Professor of Natural Science. Darby taught there until 1861 when the college closed due to the Civil War. It reopened again in 1866, and Darby resumed teaching botany.

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John N. Darby
John N. Darby

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