Edward Lee Greene
Doctor of Philosophy, abbreviated as Ph.D., PhD, D.Phil., or DPhil , in English-speaking countries, is a postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities...
, (August 10, 1843 – November 10, 1915) was an American
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...
botanist known for his numerous publications including the two-part Landmarks of Botanical History
and the naming or redescribing of over 4,400 species of plants in the American West.
Edward Lee Greene was born on August 20, 1843 in Hopkinton, Rhode Island. In 1859 Greene moved to Wisconsin and began studying at Albion Academy, a very reputable institution with a religious emphasis. There Greene met Thure Kumlein, a Swedish Naturalist with an interest in botany
Botany, plant science, or plant biology is a branch of biology that involves the scientific study of plant life. Traditionally, botany also included the study of fungi, algae and viruses...
. Greene accompanied Kumlein on field trips, further developing Greene’s interest in botany.
In August 1862, Greene joined his father and brothers in joining the Thirteenth Wisconsin infantry of the Union Army. Though he never rose above the rank of private in his three years of service, Greene was able to advance his botanical studies, collecting specimens as he marched through Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama.
Following his release from the Army, Greene returned to Albion Academy, earning his Bachelor of Philosophy in 1866. While in the service, Greene thought of moving west of the Mississippi, a desire he realized in 1870. With the aid of botanists Asa Gray of Cambridge and George Engelmann of St. Louis, Greene made preparations to study botany in the West.
While in Colorado in 1871, Greene renewed his spirituality and became both a botany teacher and a candidate for Episcopal priesthood, becoming ordained in 1873. In February 1874 Greene assumed pastorship of a church in Vallejo, California, the beginning of many short stays with churches throughout the Southwest. During these travels, Greene continued collecting plants, making forays into Arizona, New Mexico, and Mexico. In 1876–1877, while Greene was an episcopal priest in Yreka, California
Yreka is the county seat of Siskiyou County, California, United States. The population was 7,765 at the 2010 census, up from 7,290 at the 2000 census.- History:...
, he discovered the first specimens of Phlox hirsuta
Yreka phlox is a species of phlox. It is a small flowering plant that grows in the serpentine soils of Siskiyou County, California and is the official city flower of Yreka, California, after which it is named.-Description:Yreka phlox plants grow to a height of up to six inches, with thick hairy...
, a small flowering plant found only in that area.
He eventually accepted a position as rector of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Berkeley, California. Between his arrival in 1881 and 1883, Greene began to drift away from the Episcopal Church toward Roman Catholicism, costing him his congregation and his standing within the ministry. Locked out of St. Marks, Greene gave in to pressure and resigned in 1883, converting to Catholicism a year later.
Beginning in 1882, Greene began lecturing at the University of California. Following his resignation, he became curator of the herbarium at the California Academy of Sciences and in 1885, was hired as the first professor of botany at the University of California, Berkeley
The University of California, Berkeley , is a teaching and research university established in 1868 and located in Berkeley, California, USA...
(1885–1895). While he was chair of the newly-founded botany department, Greene was one of only three American representatives to the International Committee on Botanical Nomenclature and president of the Madison Botanical Congress. His controversial advocacy of nomenclature reform brought him into conflict with the president of the university, leading him to accept a position at the Catholic University
The Catholic University of America is a private university located in Washington, D.C. in the United States. It is a pontifical university of the Catholic Church in the United States and the only institution of higher education founded by the U.S. Catholic bishops...
in Washington, D.C. from 1895 to 1904. Greene then became an associate in botany at the Smithsonian Institution
The Smithsonian Institution is an educational and research institute and associated museum complex, administered and funded by the government of the United States and by funds from its endowment, contributions, and profits from its retail operations, concessions, licensing activities, and magazines...
(1904–1915), transferring some 4000 volumes and his valuable herbarium to the institution for a period of ten years.
Greene began to focus on the history of his field, publishing his seminal work Landmarks of Botanical History, Part 1
in 1909. The second volume was submitted to the Smithsonian as a work in progress but was never completed, the rough draft being published postuhumously in 1936. While at the Smithsonian, Greene renewed contact with Fr. Julius Nieuwland
Reverend Julius Aloysius Nieuwland, CSC, Ph.D., was a Belgian-born Holy Cross priest and professor of chemistry and botany at the University of Notre Dame...
, a professor of botany at the University of Notre Dame and a student from Greene’s years at the Catholic University of America. Following the expiration of his agreement with the Smithsonian in 1915, Greene moved to South Bend, Indiana along with his library and herbarium specimens. Greene returned to Washington in October to continue work on the Landmarks of Botanical History, Part 2. Greene fell ill while in Washington and died in Providence hospital on November 10, 1915.
By the end of his career Greene had named over 4,400 new species of plants, published 565 original papers, and amassed a library of over 4,000 volumes, some of which have no duplicates in North America. Greene’s library and collections remain at the University of Notre Dame in the Greene-Nieuwland Herbarium.
; originally published as