Tomitaro Makino

The Father of Japanese Botany

April 24, 1862
On this day, April 24th, Japan celebrates Botany Day - an event that honors the birthday of the Father of Japanese Botany, Tomitaro Makino.

Tomitaro was born in 1862. Tomitaro's dad was a successful brewer of the Japanese national drink, sake. Sadly, by the time he was six, Tomitaro's father, mother, and grandfather had died. His grandmother raised Tomitaro.

Tomitaro became fascinated with plants as a boy. As an adult, Tomitaro loved to collect specimens.

In every spare minute, until he became bedridden before his death, Tomitaro would roam the countryside, adding to his personal herbarium, which would ultimately max out at over 400,000 specimens. (The University of Tokyo is now home to the Makino herbarium).

Tomitaro adopted Linnaean principles for naming his plants. In 1940, he published the Illustrated Flora of Japan - an exhaustive work that detailed more than 6,000 plants. (I ordered myself a first edition online from Abe Books for the fine price of $67.)

The Makino Botanical Garden was built in his hometown of Kochi City after he died in 1957 at the age of 94.

Tomitaro Makino, the Japanese botanist, said,

"Plants can survive without humans; but humans can't survive without plants".

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Tomitaro Makino
Tomitaro Makino

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