James McNab

1810 - 1878

Plant-hunter, horticulturist and botanist. McNab was born at Richmond, Surrey, the eldest son of William McNab (1780 - 1848), who had left Scotland to work at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. However, just months after his birth, his father took the post of Superintendent of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and the family moved back north. He trained with his father at the Botanic Garden while furthering his education, and showed himself to be a capable and intelligent man. From 1829, he worked alongside Dr. Patrick Neill (1776 - 1851), Secretary of the Caledonian Horticultural Society. He was a competent botanical illustrator and his work appeared in several works on British flowering plants. In 1834, he toured North American, observing and collecting plants and trees. He served as Head Gardener at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh between the death of his father in 1848 and his own death thirty years later. He extended the garden, built a heated glasshouse, grew the plant collection and wrote prodigiously, publishing papers in several scientific journals. Like his father, he died at work. At his funeral, his coffin was covered with his favourite plants before burial in Warriston Cemetery. He is remembered through various plant species, including Cupressus macnabiana, Hesperocyparis macnabiana and Saxifraga macnabiana. His son William Ramsay McNab (1844-89) was also a noted botanist.

Use the tabs on the right of this page to see other parts of this entry arrow

If you have found this information useful please consider making
a donation to help maintain and improve this resource. More info...

By using our site you agree to accept cookies, which help us serve you better