International Carnivorous Plant Society

George Bentham

George Bentham (1800–1884)

George Bentham became attracted to botanical studies by applying to them his uncle’s logical methods, and not by any special interest in natural history. While studying at Angoulême, he came across a copy of A.P. de Candolle’s Flore Française, becoming interested in the analytical tables for identifying plants. He immediately proceeded to test their use on the first plant he saw. The result was successful and he continued to apply it to every plant he came across.

In 1836 Bentham published his Labiatarum genera et species. In preparing this work he visited every European herbarium from 1830–1834, several more than once. The following winter was passed in Vienna, where he produced his Commentationes de Leguminosarum generibus, published in the annals of the Vienna Museum. In 1842, he moved to Pontrilas in Herefordshire. His chief occupation for the next few years was his contributions to the Prodromus Systematis Naturalis Regni Vegetabilis, which was being carried on by his friend, A.P. de Candolle. In all, these volumes dealt with some 4,730 species, including many species of carnivorous plants.

In 1854, Bentham found the maintenance of his herbarium and library too expensive. He therefore offered them to the government on the understanding that they should form the foundations to research in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. In 1855, he took up his residence in London and worked at Kew for five days a week, with a brief summer holiday, from this time onwards till the end of his life.

In 1857, the government sanctioned a scheme for the preparation of a series of Floras or descriptions in the English language of the indigenous plants of the British colonies and possessions. Bentham began with the Flora Hongkongensis, in 1861, which was the first comprehensive work on any part of the little-known flora of China and Hong Kong, including Hong Kong Croton. This was followed by the Flora Australiensis, in seven volumes (1863–1878), the first flora of any large continental area to ever have been finished, in this he published Drosera leucoblasta and Drosera squamosa. His greatest work was the Genera Plantarum, begun in 1862 and concluded in 1883, in collaboration with Joseph Dalton Hooker.

Utricularia benthamii was named in his honour.


For more information on the life of George Bentham please see Wikipedia.

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Utricularia benthamii

Utricularia benthamii. Photo © Richard Nunn.




George Bentham

George Bentham

Bentham Labiatarum genera et species

A page from "Labiatarum genera et species: or, a description of the genera and species of plants of the order Labiatae; with their general history, characters, affinities, and geographical distribution" by George Bentham. Image adjusted from an image care of Royal Botanical Garden, CSIC, Madrid, Spain, via Creative Commons 4.0 CC BY-NC-SA deed license.