Charles de l'Écluse

Carolus Clusius Today is the birthday of the Flemish botanist and founder of the Botanical Garden at Leiden, Charles de l’Écluse (“day-lay-clues”). Charles was an important 16th-century horticulturalist who, like many scientists of his time, translated his name into Latin, and was also known as Carolus Clusius. Clusius is remembered as the botanist who introduced…

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Daniel Solander

Star Pupil of Linnaeus Today is the birthday of the Swedish-English botanist and star pupil of Carl Linnaeus, Daniel Solander. More than his protégé, Linnaeus had hopes that Solander might become a future son-in-law. From there, Linnaeus hoped he had found his successor as Professor of Botany at Uppsala. Linnaeus had a daughter named Lisa…

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William Francis Ganong

First Professor of Botany Today is the birthday of the first professor of botany at Smith College, William Francis Ganong (“GAH-nong”). Ganong’s family were famous chocolate-makers. In fact, today, Ganong Chocolate is Canada’s oldest independently family-operated chocolate company. Of course, William was supposed to follow in their footsteps, but he instead lost his heart to…

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Valerius Cordus

The Herbal of Valerius Cordus Today is the birthday of Valerius Cordus. Cordus was the author of one of the most influential herbals in history. In fact, centuries later, the botanist Thomas Archibald Sprague re-published “The Herbal of Valerius Cordus” with his older sister, who he considered to be the best botanist in his botanist…

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Antoine Nicolas Duchesne

Strawberry Specialist Today is the anniversary of the death of the French botanist, gardener, and professor at Versailles, Antoine Nicolas Duchesne (“do-Shane”). A specialist in strawberries and gourds, Duchesne was a student of Bernard de Jussieu at the Royal Garden in Paris. A plant pioneer, Duchesne recognized that mutation was a natural occurrence and that…

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Adolphe-Théodore Brongniart

Father of Paleobotany Today is the anniversary of the death of the French botanist and the Father of Paleobotany; Adolphe-Théodore Brongniart (“Bron-yahr”). Adolphe-Théodore and his wife had two sons, and when Adolphe-Théodore died, he died in the arms of his eldest son. As one of the most prominent botanists of the 19th century, Adolphe-Théodore worked…

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Henry David Thoreau

A Natural Willow Hedge February 14, 1856 Today Henry David Thoreau wrote in his journal about a natural willow hedge. “I was struck today by the size and continuousness of the natural willow hedge on the east side of the railroad causeway… Some twelve years ago, when that causeway was built through the meadows, there…

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Captain James Cook

A Great British Explorer Today is the anniversary of the death of one of the great British explorers, and he commanded a vessel called The Endeavor, Captain James Cook. At the age of 26, Cook joined the Royal Navy later than most, at the age of 26. He drew attention with his Superior map-making skills,…

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Moses Coates

The Apple Pairing Machine Today a patent for an Apple Paring Machine was given to Moses Coates of Downington, Pennsylvania. Over the next hundred years, 150 different patents would be issued for apple parers – and most would be variations in improvements on Coates’s original machine. The parer that Moses created was a cranked wooden…

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Lewis David von Schweinitz

The Father of North American Mycology  Today is the birthday of the Moravian clergyman and botanist Lewis David von Schweinitz, also known as the “Father of North American Mycology.” Mycology is the study of fungi. Lewis was born in Pennsylvania, and he was a descendant on his mother’s side of Count Zinzendorf – the founder…

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Joseph Banks

Australian Flora and Fauna  Today is the birthday of Joseph Banks. Banks is best known for his study of Australian flora and fauna and his role as the botanist on board the Endeavor with Captain James Cook. When they landed in Australia, neither Cook nor Banks realized that the quartz reef where they planted the…

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Jan Swammerdam

Queen Bee Today is the birthday of the Dutch biologist and entomologist Jan Swammerdam (Yahn SWAH-MER-dam). Before Jan’s work, people believed that insects created spontaneously. Jan proved that insects were born from eggs laid by the female of the species and that the larva, pupa, and adult, were just different forms of the same species.…

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William Mason

The English Garden Today is the birthday of the poet and gardener William Mason. The Reverend William Mason was also a writer, artist, and garden designer. Mason is remembered for creating the romance of the country house garden. Here’s how he did it: In 1775 at Nuneham (“NEW-Num”), near Oxford, England, Mason designed a flower…

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Charles Robert Darwin

Origin of Species Today is the birthday of the English naturalist and writer Charles Robert Darwin. Darwin was born into a large Christian family in Victorian England. His dad was wealthy; he was a doctor and an investor. For generations, Darwin’s family were staunch abolitionists. Darwin’s mother died when he was just eight years old.…

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