George Don

1798 - 1856

Botanist and plant collector. Born in Forfar, the son of the plant hunter George Don (1764 - 1814) and elder brother of another botanist David Don (1800-42), Don began working in his father's gardens, but secured positions in Edinburgh, then in London. He was appointed foreman at Chelsea Botanical Garden (1816). In 1821, he was selected by the Horticultural Society of London to search for plants in Africa and the Americas. He sailed in HMS Iphigenia for W Africa, via the Balearic, Canary and Cape Verde Islands. He spent time exploring in the difficult tropical conditions of Gambia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, before sailing across the Atlantic arriving in Brazil in July 1822, then proceeding to Jamaica, Cuba and the eastern seaboard of the USA. He returned home in 1823 with a significant number of new plants, including species of Allium, Aquilegia and Rhododendron.

He prepared the first supplement to J. C. Loudon's Encyclopaedia of Plants (1829) but is better known for his four-volume General System of Gardening and Botany (1832-38). Don was elected a Fellow of the Linnaean Society in 1831. He died in Kensington (London) and is remembered at the Plant Hunter's Garden in Pitlochry and in the plant Memecylon donianum.

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