Australian Orchids & the Doctors they Commemorate Part 8 of 20

Edwin Daintrey (1814-1887)

A medical student who abandoned his medical career just before graduation; he emigrated to Sydney, where he practised as a solicitor, cofounded the Linnean Society of New South Wales, and was appointed honorary secretary of the Australian Library in Bent Street.

Orchid species: Pterostylis daintreana

Australian Orchids and the Doctors they Commemorate Part 7 of 20

Robert Brown (1773 -1858)

A Scottish-born and Edinburgh-trained surgeon, doctor-soldier, and the father of Australian botany; he was awarded the Copley Medal in 1839, then the world’s highest accolade in science.

Orchid species: Elythranthera brunonis (= Glossodia brunonis)

Microtis brownii

Prasophyllum brownii

Australian Orchids and the Doctors they Commemorate Part 6 of 20

Archibald Menzies (1754 – 1842)

A British navy surgeon who circumnavigated the globe from west to east with Captain George Vancouver, in the tumultuous voyage of 1791 to 1974, explored extensively in south-west Western Australia, and was later president of the Linnean Society of London; his name is recorded in the names of banksias (including the firewood Banksia [Banksia menziesii]), orchids and mosses of the King George Sound hinterland which record his service to Australian botany.

Orchid species: Leptoceras menziesii (=Caladenia menziesii)


This orchid is the emblem of Native Orchid Society of South Australia

Australian Orchids and the Doctors they Commemorate Part 5 of 20

Having looked at the background, Professor Pearn documents the individual doctors and orchids.  In the original paper the doctors were listed alphabetically but these posts will be in chronological order based upon the doctor’s year of birth.

Daniel Solander (1733 – 1782)

A medical student in Sweden and London, and botanist-librarian on the Endeavour voyage to Austalia (1769 – 1771); his name is commemorated in the names of Australian species of Aciacia, Banksia and Geraniums.

Orchid species: Orthoceras strictum (= Orthoceras solandri)

The type specimen is from New Zealand.


Australian Orchids and the Doctors they Commemorate Part 4 of 20

Continuing Professor John Pearn’s article

Part 4

The first orchids scientifically named in the Pacific were species in the genus Thelymitra J.R.Forst. & G.Forst., a taxon raised and coined by the Forsters — the irascible Johann Reinhold Forster (1729–1798), and his son Georg Forster (1754–1794), who was 18 years old when they left on Cook’s second voyage of 1772 to 1775. The Forsters collected Thelymitra longifolia in the South Island of New Zealand in 1772 and published the name of the species in 1776. The Forsters described and named nine new species in what they termed the “Class of Orches” in the South Pacific. Georg Forster graduated in medicine in Vilna (now Vilnius, Lithuania) in 1784. Species of Thelymitra, which are known as the Sun Orchids, are found mainly in the south-west of Western Australia.

It should be noted that Thelymitra are found both in the east, central and the west of southern Australia.

Australian Orchids and the Doctors they Commemorate Part 3 of 20

To learn a little more about some of the orchids Professor John Pearn has mentioned, click on the links

Part 3

Early orchidology in the Asia–Pacific region

The fleshy pseudobulbs (thickened stems that serve as storage organs) of orchids have been eaten and used medicinally by Indigenous Australians for thousands of years. The first Australian orchids brought to the attention of Western science were three species of Dendrobium (D. discolor Lindley [described by John Lindley]; D. canaliculatum R.Br. [described by Robert Brown]; and D. rigidum R.Br. [described by Robert Brown]) that were collected by Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander at the Endeavour River between 17 June and 3 August 1770. Solander had trained in medicine and botany under Linnaeus in Uppsala (Sweden) and, after 1759, in London (England). One of the plant species named after him is the Australian orchid Orthoceras solandri (also known as Orthoceras strictum).

Australian Orchids and the Doctors they Commemorate Part 2 of 20

In continuing this series of Professor John Pearn, links have been provided for the genera or species mentioned.  In this group most of them are from limited locations in Queensland.

Orchids named after medical professionals

Sixteen doctors who practised medicine and/or botany in Australia have their names recorded in the scientific names of 24 indigenous orchids of Australia. In addition, one separate species (Thelymitra flexuosa, also known as Thelymitra smithiana) and five genera of indigenous Australian orchids record the names of European doctors, pharmacologist–pharmacists or herbalists. The five genera are Burnettia Lindl. (described by John Lindley in 1840), a monospecific genus; Cadetia Gaud. (described by Charles Gaudichaud-Beaupré in 1829); Goodyera R.Br. (described by Robert Brown in 1813); Robiquetia Gaud. (described by Charles Gaudichaud-Beaupré in 1829); and Vrydagzynea Blume (described by Carl Ludwig Blume in 1858).

The Lizard Orchid, Burnettia cuneata, blooms in eastern Australia and Tasmania; it commemorates Gilbert Thomas Burnett (1800–1835), surgeon and foundation professor of botany at King’s College London.

In the genus Cadetia (delicate white orchids), four species are named after the apothecary of the French imperial court, Charles-Louis Cadet de Gassicourt (1769–1821) — C. collinsii, C. maideniana, C. taylori and C. wariana. They commemorate his life and works as an apothecary, soldier, scholar, writer, scientist and researcher.

The genus Goodyera is named after the 17th century herbalist John Goodyer (1592–1664).

Robiquetia commemorates Pierre Jean Robiquet (1780–1840), a French pharmacist, organic chemist, professor and foundation member of the Académie royale de Médecine (1820). He was the first to describe an amino acid (asparagine) (1806), and he characterised caffeine (1821) and discovered codeine (1832).

One species out of the 40 species of the Tonsil Orchids, Vrydagzynea grayi, grows in Australia. A rare orchid of the Daintree rainforest in north Queensland, it commemorates Theodore Daniel Vrydag Zynen (fl. 1850), a Dutch pharmacologist and contemporary of one of the most famous doctor–orchidologists, Karl Ludwig Blume (1796–1862). The Twisted Sun Orchid, Thelymitra flexuosa, commemorates the Norwich physician and friend of Joseph Banks, Sir James Edward Smith (1759–1828). When he was 25 years old, Smith took the decisive action to buy the great Linnean collection of plants, which were in danger of being lost to science following the death of Linnaeus’s son in 1783. Smith bought them when they were offered for sale in 1784. In conjunction with the bishop of Carlisle, he founded the Linnaean Society of London and was its first president. In 1798, he raised the new genus, Diuris, which is one of the first taxa of Pacific orchids to be described. The Lilly Pilly, Syzygium smithii, is another of his six botanical memorials.

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