John Torrey (1796-1873)

"Although chemistry is my profession, botany occupies much of my time." (1852)

The first professional botanist in the New World, Torrey published extensively on the North American flora, advocated the "natural system" of classification that was replacing Linnaeus' artifical system, and collaborated with his disciple Asa Gray for many years. Torrey never was able to make a living from botany and worked (among other things) as a freelance chemical analyst. Nonetheless, he was considered the leading American botanist of his time and was often asked by the government to describe collections from New York State, the West, Mexico, and Central America. Torrey founded the Botanical Club of New York (1858), which later (1870) became the Torrey Botanical Club. A friend of Joseph Henry. Unlike Gray, Torrey had little interest in evolution or other theoretical issues.

Torrey in about 1825. From Baatz, p. 26.

Torrey in the 1850s. From Baatz, p. 126.


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