John Hutchinson (botanist)

John Hutchinson, OBE, FRS (7 April 1884 Blindburn, Northumberland – 2 September 1972 London) was a renowned English botanist, taxonomist and author.[1][2][3][4]

John Hutchinson
Born(1884-04-07)7 April 1884
Wark on Tyne, Northumberland
Died2 September 1972(1972-09-02) (aged 88)
Known forHutchinson system
AwardsFellow of the Royal Society (1947)[1]
Darwin-Wallace Medal (Silver, 1958)
Linnean Medal (1965)
Scientific career
Author abbrev. (botany)Hutch.

Life and career

Born in Blindburn, Wark on Tyne, Northumberland, England, he received his horticultural training in Northumberland and Durham and was appointed a student gardener at Kew in 1904. His taxonomic and drawing skills were soon noticed and resulted in his being appointed to the Herbarium in 1905. He moved from assistant in the Indian section to assistant for Tropical Africa, returning to Indian botany from 1915-1919, and from then on was in charge of the African section until 1936 when he was appointed Keeper of the Museums of Botany at Kew. He retired in 1948 but continued working on the phylogeny of flowering plants and publishing two parts of The Genera of Flowering Plants.

His profound knowledge of the floral structure of the phanerogams was probably greater than that of any other living botanist.

John Hutchinson proposed a radical revision of the angiosperm classification system devised by Hooker and by Engler and Prantl that had become widely accepted during the 20th century. At its simplest, his system suggested two main divisions of angiosperms, herbaceous and woody.

Hutchinson made two extended collecting trips to South Africa, which were recounted in great detail in A Botanist in Southern Africa.[2] His first visit was from August 1928 to April 1929, and the second from June 1930 to September 1930 on which occasion the expedition travelled north as far as Lake Tanganyika.


Personal life

Hutchinson was married and had 2 sons and 3 daughters, one of whom lived in South Africa. He spent his leisure time roaming the English countryside with his wife in a caravan, describing and drawing wild flowers.

At his funeral at Mortlake Crematorium, a wreath largely made of South African flowers, was sent by his colleagues at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew.

First Southern Africa trip August 1928 – April 1929

Hutchinson arrived in Table Bay and spent the first few weeks collecting in and around Cape Town and Table Mountain, with short trips further afield. His first lengthy trip was to Namaqualand and Bushmanland with fellow botanist and succulent specialist, NS Pillans. Back in Cape Town he purchased a small Citroën car and set off on 30 October in the company of Rudolf Marloth, who left them at Barrydale, and Jan Gillett, the son of prof. Arthur Gillett of Oxford (one of the founders of Oxfam). On this occasion their route followed the southern Cape coast as far as Port Elizabeth. Here Gillett's place was taken by RA Dyer and the route veered inland to Grahamstown and Katberg, then back to the coast, visiting Butterworth, Port St Johns, Kokstad, Pietermaritzburg and Durban. From here Hutchinson travelled on his own and in Pretoria joined up with General Smuts, who was a keen and knowledgeable botanist, to the far northern Transvaal to explore Lake Fundusi, sacred to the Venda tribe.

  • 16–22 August 1928 Cape Peninsula
  • 25 August Worcester
  • 31 August Matjesfontein
  • 4 September Malmesbury to Darling
  • 5 September Hopefield to Vredenburg
  • 6 September coast north of Saldanha Bay
  • 10 September Hottentots Holland mountains
  • 16 September above Tulbagh Waterfall
  • 21 September Sir Lowry's Pass
  • 30 September gorge west of Ceres
  • 5 October lighthouse at Sea Point
  • 9 October Sutherland to Middlepost
  • 10 October near Elandsfontein
  • 11 October near Nieuwoudtville
  • 13 October near Bitterfontein
  • 13 October Garies to Kamieskroon
  • 15 October O'okiep to Steinkopf
  • 16 October poort between Concordia and Pella
  • 16 October Pella to Pofadder
  • 18 October Kenhardt
  • 27 October Bain's Kloof
  • 29 October Paarl
  • 30 October Robertson
  • 31 October Montagu to Barrydale
  • 1 November Waterkloof, Ladismith
  • 1 November Seweweekspoort
  • 2 November Calitzdorp to Cango
  • 3 November southern side of Zwartberg Pass
  • 4 November Oudtshoorn to Montagu Pass
  • 5 November Pacaltsdorp
  • 5 November Touws River near George
  • 5 November Phantom Pass near Knysna
  • 7 November Belvedere near Knysna
  • 8 November Plettenberg Bay
  • 8 November Bitou River
  • 9 November Keurbooms River
  • 9 November Grootrivier Pass
  • 10 November Witelsbos
  • 12 November Kareedouw Pass
  • 12 November Kareedouw to Humansdorp
  • 13 November Jeffreys Bay
  • 14 November Gamtoos River Pass
  • 16 November Port Elizabeth to Uitenhage
  • 16 November near Addo
  • 17 November Howieson's Poort near Grahamstown
  • 18 November Bathurst
  • 19 November Fish River Valley
  • 19 November Pluto's Vale
  • 20 November Botha's Hill
  • 26 November Grahamstown to Fort Beaufort
  • 26 November hills above Balfour
  • 27 November top of Katberg
  • 28 November Seymour to Alice
  • 28 November King William's Town to East London
  • 29 November Mooiplaats to Komgha
  • 1 December Libode
  • 1 December mountain forest near Port St Johns
  • 3 December Port St Johns to Lusikisiki
  • 3 December Flagstaff
  • 4 December Flagstaff to Kokstad
  • 5 December Mt Currie
  • 6 December Pietermaritzburg Botanical Garden
  • 6 December Umgeni
  • 10 December Howick, Mooi River
  • 11 December Ladysmith, Natal
  • 14 December Warmbaths
  • 15 December near Potgietersrust
  • 16 December Louis Trichardt to Wylliespoort
  • 18 December Limpopo River near Messina
  • 19 December Dongola
  • 21 December Thomson's Store to Lake Fundusi
  • 23 December Witvlag
  • 23 December Woodbush near Tzaneen
  • 24 December Moorddrift
  • 28 December koppie at Fountains Valley near Pretoria
  • 31 December Hartebeespoort in the Magaliesberg
  • 2 January 1929 Doornkloof near Irene
  • 5 January Louw's Creek to Maid of the Mist Mountain
  • 7 January Barberton to Louw's Creek
  • 7 January Barberton to Lomati Falls
  • 8 January Impala Siding near Barberton
  • 9 January Komatipoort
  • 9 January western slopes of Lebombo Mountains, Portuguese East Africa
  • 15 January Horn's Nek, Magaliesberg
  • 22 January between Potgietersrust and Swerwerskraal
  • 23 January Magalakwin River Bridge
  • 24 January north of Blaauwberg
  • 29 January Premier Mine near Pretoria
  • 30 January between Arnot and Belfast
  • 2 February Machadodorp
  • 3 February Maskew's farm Suikerboskop near Belfast
  • 6 February Magatosnek near Rustenburg
  • 7 February Rustenburg to Zeerust
  • 8 February Hills north of Zeerust
  • 9 February 15 miles west of Mafeking
  • 10 February Vryburg to Schweizer-Reneke
  • 11 February Wolmaransstad and Klerksdorp
  • 15 February near Parys, Orange Free State
  • 18 February Christiana to Warrenton
  • 19 February koppies near Kimberley
  • 20 February Kimberley to Riverton
  • 21 February Baviaanskrantz near Kaap Plateau
  • 22 February hills between Papkuil and Postmasburg
  • 23 February hills east of Asbestos Mountains
  • 24 February near Campbell
  • 28 February Kaffir River to Edenburg, Orange Free State
  • 1 March Fauresmith Reserve
  • 3 March near Colesberg
  • 4 March Kikvorsch Mountains near Noupoort
  • 6 March near Tafelberg, Middelburg, Cape Province
  • 8 March Roode Hoogte Pass
  • 8 March Naude's Pass
  • 9 March Groote River to Aberdeen
  • 10 March Meiringspoort
  • 13 March George
  • 15 March Mossel Bay
  • 24 March Robinson Pass
  • 25 March Riviersonderend
  • 26 March Caledon to Hermanus
  • 5 April Table Mountain
  • 9 April Zeekoevlei

Second African trip June 1930 – September 1930

Having met Hutchinson on his previous visit to South Africa, General Smuts invited him to join a party consisting of Margaret Clark Gillett with two of her sons Jan and Tona Gillett (Anthony), on a trip to Lake Tanganyika. They set off from Irene on 28 June 1930 in a convoy of seven vehicles and were joined at Beit Bridge by Dr. IB Pole Evans. They collected all the way to Lake Tanganyika and then retraced their route to Broken Hill, where Hutchinson boarded a goods train to Elizabethville. On his return to Pretoria, and with time in hand, he set off on a trip to the Soutpansberg with Jan Gillett. Then followed a week in the Drakensberg, climbing to the top of Mont-aux-Sources with two fellow botanists, Miss Verdoorn and Miss Forbes. A final flurry of collecting at Botha's Hill near Durban, and Port Elizabeth, saw the end of a very fruitful visit.


  • Hutchinson, John (1936). "A new phylogenetic classification of the monocotyledons". Proceedings of the Zesde Internationaal Botanisch Congres, Amsterdam, 2–7 September 1935. ii: 129–131. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  • Common Wild Flowers (1945)
  • More Common Wild Flowers (1948)
  • Uncommon Wild Flowers (1950)
  • British Wild Flowers (1955)
  • The Story of Plants with R. Melville
  • A Botanist in Southern Africa (London, 1946)
  • Flora of West Tropical Africa with Dr John McEwen Dalziel
  • Hutchinson, John (1934). The families of flowering plants, arranged according to a new system based on their probable phylogeny. 2 vols (1st ed.). Macmillan. Volume 1: Monocotyledonae 1926, Volume 2:Dicotyledonae 1934.
  • Hutchinson, John (1959). The families of flowering plants, arranged according to a new system based on their probable phylogeny. 2 vols (2nd ed.). Macmillan.
  • Hutchinson, John (1973). The families of flowering plants, arranged according to a new system based on their probable phylogeny. 2 vols (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 9783874291606.
  • The Genera of Flowering Plants (Oxford, Vol.1 (1964), Vol.2 (1967), Vol. 3 (posthumously))
  • Evolution and Phylogeny of Flowering Plants (1969)

See also


  1. Hubbard, C. E. (1975). "John Hutchinson, 7 April 1884 – 2 September 1972". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 21: 345–365. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1975.0009.
  2. A Botanist in Southern Africa John Hutchinson (London, 1946)
  3. Botanical Exploration of Southern Africa Mary Gunn and LE Codd (Balkema 1981) ISBN 0-86961-129-1
  4. Systematic botany history Archived 1 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  6. IPNI.  Hutch.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.