Orchidologist John Lindley (1799 – 1865)

John  Lindley (1799 – 1865), who named Thelymitra crinita, mentioned in a previous post, was one of the world’s earliest orchidologists and has been described as the Father of Modern Orchidology (Pridgeon, p.1). Having no formal university education, his career began under Sir Joseph Banks as assistant-librarian. He eventually rose to Professor of Botany, University College, London, amongst his many other numerous official duties and public activities. It was the result of Lindley’s work and involvement with a group of other likeminded men that Kew Garden was saved from destruction and Corn Tax was repealed at the time of the great Irish potato famine.

Although orchids were not his only area of  interest they were his passion and the common name ‘orchid’ was introduced by him in 1845.  Lindley became involved with the naming of orchids at a time when the western world was discovering the wealth of the orchid world and his subsequent work on orchids was prodigious. He personally examined and named thousands of species specimens, with one author stating that Lindley named over 6,000 orchid species, establishing over 120 genera. Notably he wrote three major orchid works Genera and Species of Orchidaceous Plants (1830 – 1840), Sertum orchidaceum (1838), and Folia orchidacea (1852-1855). He also wrote for the general public and one delightfully readable textbook was Ladies’ Botany or A Familiar Introduction to the Study of the Natural System of Botany Volume I and II (1834–1837).

Though not referring specifically to South Australia, he lamented  “that there are  still, however, many species from the East and North Coast (of Australia), with which he has no acquaintance”  [sic]. As far as I can determine none of our endemic orchids were named by him.

Lindley,  J.  (1830).  The  genera  and  species  of orchidaceous plants /by John Lindley. Retrieved 30 Apr  2014,  from https://archive.org/details/mobot31753002698485

Lindley, J. (1839).  Appendix to the first twenty-three volumes of Edwards’s botanical register : consisting of a complete alphabetical and systematical index of names, synomymes and matter, adjusted to the present state of systematical botany, together with a sketch of the vegetation of the Swan River colony (http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/item/29179#page/59/mode/1up). London: James Ridgway.

“Lindley, John”. (2008). Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography  Retrieved 30 Apr. 2014, from http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-2830902630.html

Pridgeon, A. (2005). Blue Plaque for John Lindley’s Home [Electronic Version]. Orchid Research Newsletter 46, 1. Retrieved 8 May 2014, from http://www.kew.org/herbarium/orchid/orn46.pdf

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