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1Bil BC
Bacteria teamed up with animal and plant cells about this time. This resulted in the formation of cellular mitochondria, which provided bodies power by burning glucose and using the energy created to form ATP, a molecule that is biology’s universal fuel.
Links: Animal, Botany, HistoryBC     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
80Mil BC
Scientists in 2005 reported that, titanosaurian suaropods, plant eaters from this time, dined on a variety of grasses previously believed to have evolved 10 million years after dinosaurs disappeared.
Links: Dinosaur, Botany, HistoryBC     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
55Mil BC
An increase in temperature prompted a major shift in plant distribution. In 2005 scientists reported that Earth warmed 9 to 18 degrees over a 10,000 years to a warm period that lasted 80-120 thousand years. Plants in the southern US spread 1,000 miles from the gulf Coast to Wyoming, and disappeared when the climate cooled off. In 2007 scientists said that it took about 200,000 years for the atmospheric carbon from volcanic eruptions to be transferred to the deep ocean, allowing the planet to cool.
Links: Environment, Earth, Volcano, Wyoming, Botany, HistoryBC     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
49Mil BC
A giant bloom of the Azolla fern at this time coincided with one of the biggest climate shifts known. Surface sea temperature in the Arctic dropped from 13°C to -9°C. In 2014 scientists suspected that the fern bloom was responsible for the temperature drop as it pulled CO2 from the atmosphere.
Links: Arctic, Botany, HistoryBC     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
32000 BC
30000 BC
In 2012 A team of Russian scientists revived a plant, Silene stenophylla, whose seeds came from a squirrel’s chamber in Siberian permafrost dating to this time.
Links: Russia, Siberia, Botany, HistoryBC     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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11000 BC
Scientists in 2009 said an oak bush in the Jurupa Hills of Riverside County, Ca., was about 13,000 years old, dating to about this time.
Links: California, Botany, HistoryBC     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
287 BC
Theophrastus (b.c371BC), Greek philosopher, died. He produced the 1st known work on plant reproduction “De historia plantarum. He was a contemporary of Aristotle and succeeded him as head of the Lyceum.
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1628 Oct 28
After a fifteen-month siege, the Huguenot town of La Rochelle surrendered to Cardinal Richelieu's Catholic forces. John Tradescant, an English gardener who accompanied Duke George Villiers to rescue the Huguenots, had designed siege trenches prior to the surrender.
Links: Britain, France, Botany     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1637
John Tradescant the younger, a widower with a son and daughter, undertook the first of three voyages from England to Virginia “to gather up all raritye of flowers, plants, shells.” The King’s request to search for useful trees and herbs, no doubt played a role in Tradescant’s decision to take this trip during what must have been a very difficult time.
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1638
John Tradescant (b.1570), English gardener and father of John Tradescant (1608-1662), died. In 2008 Jennifer Potter authored “Strange Blooms: The Curious Lives and Adventures of the John Tradescants.
Links: Britain, Biography, Botany     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1662
John Tradescant the younger (b.1608), English traveler, horticulturalist, collector and gardener to Queen Henrietta Maria, died. His home in South Lambeth, called The Ark, was filled with his Museum Tradescantianum, a collection of rarities which included birds, fish, shells, insects, minerals, coins, medals and unusual plants. After his death the collection went to Elias Ashmole, who subsequently presented it to Oxford University, where it formed the basis of the Ashmolean Museum. In 2008 Jennifer Potter authored “Strange Blooms: The Curious Lives and Adventures of the John Tradescants.
Links: Britain, Biography, Museums, Botany     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1673
In London the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries started the Chelsea Physic Garden as an educational tool for apprentices learning to grow medicinal plants.
Links: Britain, Medical, Botany     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1682
Nehemiah Grew (1641-1712), English botanist and physician, postulated that plants reproduce sexually in his book “Anatomy of Plants.” His 1st book on plant anatomy was titled “The Anatomy of Vegetable Begun” (1672).
Links: Britain, Books, Botany     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1705 Jan 17
John Ray (b.1627), English naturalist, died. His classification of plants in his “Historia Plantarum” (1686) was an important step towards modern taxonomy.
Links: Britain, Botany     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1705 Jan 17
John Ray (b.1627), British naturalist and theologian, died. He had spent three years traveling in Europe collecting material for his book “Historia Plantarum.” The classification in his 1682 book “Methodus Plantarum Nova” is based on overall morphology. Ray's plant classification system was the first to divide flowering plants into monocots and dicots.
Links: Britain, Botany     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
1716
Thomas Fairchild brushed with a feather pollen from a sweet William over the stigma of a carnation, creating the first human-made hybrid plant.
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1733
John Bartram, American farmer, began sending seed boxes from Philadelphia to Peter Collinson, a London cloth merchant and passionate plant collector.
Links: Britain, USA, Pennsylvania, Botany     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1752 May
Dutch botanist Thomas Francois Dalibard (1709-1799) successfully performed Benjamin Franklin’s “sentry box” experiment proving that lightning is an electrical phenomenon.
Links: Netherlands, Physics, Botany     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1766
1769
The French expedition of Louis Antoine de Bougainville sailed on a voyage to circumnavigate the globe. Botanist Jeanne Baret, disguised as a man, likely collected a flower (bougainvillea) near Rio de Janeiro that was named after the captain.
Links: Brazil, France, Women, Botany     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1768 Aug 26
Capt James Cook departed from Plymouth with Endeavour to the Pacific Ocean. Daniel Solander and Joseph Banks accompanied Cook to catalog plants and animals of Australia and New Zealand on the 3-year journey.
Links: Australia, Britain, New Zealand, Botany     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1768
1771
Capt. James Cook charted the coasts of both the north and south islands of New Zealand and Australia. Cook made his historic voyages in colliers, slow but strong ships designed primarily for carrying coal. His ship was named the Endeavour. Cook's voyage to Australia kept a botanical record called the Banks Florilegium. The 738 original plates commissioned by Sir Joseph Banks was not printed until a 100 set limited edition in 1989.
Links: Australia, Britain, New Zealand, Botany     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1778
Botanist Joseph Banks (1743-1820) became president of the British Royal Society. He had accompanied Capt. Cook to catalog plants and animals of Australia and New Zealand on the 3-year journey (1768-1771).
Links: Britain, Botany     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1788 Apr 15
Mary Delany (b.1700), English artist and writer, died. She became known for her “Flora Delanica,” a collection of 985 botanically accurate portraits of flowers in bloom. In 2011 Molly Peacock authored “”The Paper Garden: An Artist Begins Her Life’s work at 72.”
Links: Artist, Britain, Botany     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1807 Aug 5
Jeanne Baret (b.1740), botanist, died in France. She had joined the (1766-1769) expedition of Louis Antoine de Bougainville, disguised as a man, and enlisting as valet and assistant to the expedition's naturalist, Philibert Commerson, shortly before Bougainville's ships sailed on a voyage to circumnavigate the globe. In 2013 Glynis Ridley authored “The Discovery of Jeanne Baret: A Story of Science, the High Seas, and the First Woman to Circumnavigate the Globe.”
Links: France, Women, Biography, Botany     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1813
Georg Heinrich von Langsdorff was nominated consul general of Russia in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He acquired a farm (named "Mandioca", or manioc) in the north of Rio and collected plants, animals and minerals. He hosted and entertained foreign naturalists and scientists, and explored the flora, fauna and geography of the province of Minas Gerais with French naturalist Augustin Saint-Hilaire from 1813 to 1820.
Links: Brazil, Russia, Botany     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1827
Joseph Niepce, French inventor, met with English botanist Francis Bauer, who agreed to present Niepce’s ground breaking photographic work to the Royal Society, which rejected the bid. Before leaving London Niepce made a gift of his 1826 pewter image to Bauer. The pewter image was re-discovered in 1952 by photo historian Helmut Gernsheim.
Links: Britain, France, Photography, Botany, Inventor     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1849
In Missouri Henry Shaw, a British immigrant, established the St. Louis Botanical Garden.
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1852 Jun 9
Georg Heinrich von Langsdorff, German-Russian naturalist, physician and explorer, died of typhus in Germany. He first participated as naturalist and physician in the great Russian scientific circumnavigation expedition commanded by Ivan Fedorovich Kruzenshtern, from 1803 to 1805. He returned from San Francisco by ship to Siberia and thence to Saint Petersburg by land, arriving in 1808.
Links: Russia, Germany, Explorer, Botany     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1866
Henry Wickham (1846-1928) ventured from Britain to South America hoping to shoot exotic birds and ship home feathers for lady’s hats. This venture failed as the birds exploded from the rifle shots. He returned to the Amazon region and in 1876 gathered seeds of the Hevea brasiliensis tree, which produced latex. Less than 4% of some 70,000 seeds germinated, but this was enough to ship seedlings to Ceylon, India, Malaya and Singapore and begin a global rubber plantation boom.
Links: Brazil, Britain, Fashion, Explorer, Trees, Botany, Birds, Ceylon     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1868
In Missouri Henry Shaw (1800-1889), British-born businessman, gave Tower Grove Park to St. Louis. In 2005 Carol Grove authored “Henry Shaw's Victorian Landscapes: The Missouri Botanical Garden and Tower Grove Park.”
Links: USA, Missouri, Botany     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1870
William Robinson (1838-1935), Irish gardener and journalist, authored “The Wild Garden.” His most famous contribution to gardening was his book The English Flower Garden, (1883).
Links: Ireland, Books, Botany     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1875
Charles Darwin (1809-1882) authored “Insectivorous Plants” as well as “The Movements and Habits of Climbing Plants.”
Links: Britain, Writer, Insects, Books, Botany     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1876
The gladiolus rust, Uromyces trasversalis, was discovered in South Africa. Some 90 years later it turned up in the Mediterranean region then spread to Europe, South America, and Australia. In 2006 it was detected in the US.
Links: South Africa, Microbiology, Botany     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1906
Baldassare Forestiere (1879-1946), Sicilian immigrant, began creating his 10-acre Forestiere Underground Gardens in Fresno, Ca.
Links: California, Botany     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1910
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden was established under Dr. Charles Stuart Gager.
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1911 Dec 10
Joseph Dalton Hooker (b.1817), British botonist and explorer, died.
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1927
The Cranford Rose Garden was established in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden with a $15,000 donation from engineer Walter V. Cranford. His firm built many of Brooklyn’s subway tunnels.
Links: USA, NYC, Donation, Botany     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1932 Dec 8
Gertrude Jekyll (b.1843), English gardener and writer, died.
Links: Britain, Botany     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1933
Harold Peto (b.1854), English architect and gardener, died. In 2007 Robin Halley authored “The Great Edwardian Gardens of Harold Peto.”
Links: Britain, Architect, Botany     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1946 Nov 7
Willis Linn Jepson (b.1867), “Profound Scholar, Inspiring Teacher, Indefatigable Botanical Explorer,” died in Berkeley, Ca. “In the ordered beauty of nature he found enduring communion.”
Links: USA, SF Bay Area, Botany     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1946 Nov 10
Baldassare Forestiere, creator of the Forestiere Underground Gardens in Fresno, Ca., died in Fresno.
Links: California, Botany     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1955
Ruth Stout authored “How to Have a Green Thumb Without an Aching Back.”
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1964
In Hillsborough, New Jersey, the indoor display gardens of Doris Duke were opened to the public. They were located in glass houses on the 2,740-acre Duke Farms estate. The main glass building, one of the largest in America, was designed by Horace Trumbauer and completed in 1917. In 2008 the display gardens were closed down as the estate transformed to an ecological and environmental learning center.
Links: Environment, New Jersey, Botany     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1971 Jul 6
In Brazil rubber tapper Raimundo Irineu Serra (b.1892) died. He founded the Santo Daime (Saint Gimme) religion. It was based on a shamanic brew of ayahuasca, a hallucinogenic tea made from the Banisteriopsis caapi vine and Psychotria viridis leaf.
Links: Brazil, Religion, Botany     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1971
Mary Bowerman (1908-2005) and Art Bonwell co-founded the Save Mount Diablo group and were instrumental in expanding the boundaries of the northern California Mount Diablo state park from 6,788 acres to over 20,000 acres in 2006. In 1944 Bowerman published her doctoral thesis: “Flowering Plants and Ferns of Mount Diablo.”
Links: Environment, SF Bay Area, Horticulture, Botany, Mountain     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1973
In Occidental, Ca., Marshall Olbrich (d.1991) and Lester Hawkins (d.1985) opened their 3-acre Western Hills Nursery. They had designed and built the nursery in 1961 and proceeded to cultivate and popularize many plants that later thrived in the Bay Area gardens.
Links: USA, California, Botany     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1982
Kenneth Thimann (1904-1997) received the Balzan Prize worth $110,000, awarded in scientific fields not covered by the Nobel Prize, for his work on plant hormones. The English-born Harvard scientist had isolated and purified the universal growth hormone known as auxin.
Links: Britain, USA, Botany     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1982
Grace Marchant, the SF woman who maintained the garden on the east face of Telegraph Hill at the Filbert steps, died. The garden was later named in her honor. The retired seamstress had begun her work in 1949. Before her death she asked cab driver Gary Kray (d.2012) to continue her work.
Links: USA, SF, Botany     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1982
In Monaco an aquarium was emptied that contained the exotic seaweed Caulerpa taxifolia. It mutated and thrived in the Mediterranean Sea and by 1997 occupied 8,000 acres and eliminated everything else. Its growth has tripled annually over the last three years.
Links: Environment, Monaco, Botany     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1986 Sep 23
The US Congress selected the rose as the US national flower.
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1989
Buffalo clover, last seen in 1907, emerged in some topsoil delivered to a botanist’s backyard. In 1788 historian S.P. Hildreth penned an image of the fertile frontier that described the plant: "Buffalo clover... nearly knee-high... afforded a rich pasture."
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1995
The American Society of Botanical Artists was founded.
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1996
"Plants, People, and Culture: The Science of Ethnobotony" was published by Michael J. Balick and Paul Alan Cox.
Links: Books, Botany     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1998 Apr 8
It was reported that a 20-year int’l. survey of plant diversity found that 1 out of every 8 known plant species was threatened with extinction.
Links: Botany, Extinction     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1998
In Uganda plant breeder William Wagoira found stem rust on his crops. The fungal wheat rust (Puccinia graminis) had not been seen since the Green Revolution. By 2010 the fungus had spread as far as Iran and South Africa and scientists feared further spread.
Links: Microbiology, Uganda, Food, Botany     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
1999
Anna Pavord authored “The Tulip,” a history of the flower.
Links: Botany     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
2000 Jan 19
Dr. G. Ledyard Stebbins Jr. (b.1906), considered to be the founder of evolutionary botany, died in Davis, Ca. His books included “Variation and Evolution in Plants” (1950), “Flowering Plants: Evolution Above the Species Level” (1974), and “Chromosomal Evolution in Higher Plants” (1971). In 2007 his autobiography was published under the title “The Ladyslipper and I, Autobiography of G. Ledyard Stebbins.”
Links: USA, Biography, Botany     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
2001
Richard Evans Schultes (b.1915), considered the father of ethnobotony, died. In 1997 Wade Davis authored "One River: Explorations and Discoveries in the Amazon Rain Forest," a biography of Schultes.
Links: Biography, Botany     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
2003 Apr 17
Graham Stuart Thomas (94), who reintroduced many forgotten plants to British and American gardens, died. His books included "Old Shrub Roses" and the meticulously illustrated "The Garden Through the Year."
Links: Botany     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
2007 Jun
BP PLC said it will invest $90 million in a joint venture with UK-based D1 Oils PLC, a biofuels startup that is developing the jatropha plant in India and elsewhere. The oil rich, non-edible plant was first cultivated in South America and brought to India by Portuguese traders.
Links: Britain, Oil, India, Botany     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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