Flora of The British Islands
Today is the anniversary of the death of the remarkable English botanist George Bentham who died on this day in 1884.
He was going to be an attorney, but he decided to pursue botany after a time spent living in the country. Bentham wrote a Flora of the British Islands - which he claimed was written bit by bit every morning before he had his breakfast. Bentham wrote the book for beginners; he wanted amateurs to be able to recognize fundamental differences in plants, and his descriptions were written simply and used ordinary everyday language. Bentham also worked together with Sir Joseph Hooker on the production of their masterpiece, "Genera Plantarum." The book was completed a year before his death - and it would be the only book he ever co-authored.
As a teacher, Bentham taught botany and botanizing to many students. His lifelong friend was the botanist John Stuart Mills who was five years younger than him. Mills had lived with the Bethams as a teenager during the year 1820.
The Botanist Asa Gray remarked that Bentham could "fairly be compared with Linnaeus, de Candolle, and Robert Brown" for his accurateness and variety of work.
Bentham kept a diary for over 50 years. All of his correspondence with Sir William Hooker has been preserved over the years.
If you're a fan of Opal Basil, the purple basil, you'll be pleased to know it was first discovered in 1830 by none other than George Bentham.