Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Gardner, George

GARDNER, GEORGE (1812–1849), botanist, was born in Glasgow in May 1812. He studied medicine in the university of his native town; but when he had qualified as a surgeon he conceived a strong desire for botanical travel, and with the assistance of his teacher, Sir W. J. Hooker, obtained the support of the Duke of Bedford and others as subscribers for the plants that he might collect. In May 1836 he accordingly sailed for Brazil. Before starting he issued a pocket herbarium of 250 species of British mosses. In Brazil he first explored the Organ Mountains, and subsequently Pernambuco, the Rio, San Francisco, Aracaty, Ceara, and Piauhy, returning to Rio towards the end of 1840. He sent home sixty thousand specimens, representing three thousand species, and his entire collection comprised twice that number of species of flowering plants alone. He reached Liverpool, on his return, in July 1841, bringing with him six large Wardian cases of living plants. He described several new genera in a series of papers in Hooker's ‘London Journal of Botany,’ and in 1842 began in its pages an enumeration of Brazilian plants, and in those of the ‘Journal of the Horticultural Society’ ‘Contributions to the History of the Connection of Climate and Vegetation.’ In the same year he became a fellow of the Linnean Society, and in 1843 assisted H. B. Fielding in the preparation of an illustrated descriptive work entitled ‘Sertum Plantarum,’ London, 1844, 8vo. Being then appointed superintendent of the botanical garden of Ceylon, he devoted the voyage out to the preparation of the journal of his Brazilian travels, some accounts of which had already appeared, in letters to Sir W. J. Hooker, in the ‘Companion to the Botanical Magazine,’ and in the ‘Annals of Natural History.’ The detailed journal, the proof-sheets of which were revised by John Miers and Robert Heward, appeared in 1846 as ‘Travels in the Interior of Brazil, principally through the Northern Provinces and the Gold and Diamond Districts, during the years 1836–1841.’ In 1845 he visited Madras, and botanised in the Neilgherry Hills with Dr. Wight, with whom and Dr. m'Clelland he became associated as part editor of the ‘Calcutta Journal of Natural History.’ During 1846, 1847, and 1848 he published in that journal a monograph of the Podostemaceæ and ‘Contributions towards a Flora of Ceylon;’ and at the time of his death he had fully prepared for publication a manual of Indian botany, which, however, seems never to have been issued. He died of apoplexy at Neura Ellia, Ceylon, 10 March 1849. His herbarium, comprising fourteen thousand specimens, was mostly purchased for the British Museum.

[Proc. Linn. Soc. ii. 40; Hooker's Companion to the Bot. Mag. (1836), ii. 1, 344; London Journ. Bot. (1849), i. 154, (1851) iii. 188; Cottage Gardener, ii. 74; Gardener's Chronicle (1849), p. 263, (1851) p. 343.]

G. S. B.