|Born||August 15, 1796|
|Died||March 10, 1873 76) (aged|
|Alma mater||Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons|
|Awards||United States Assay Commission Medal of 1874|
|Fields|| Botany |
|Author abbrev. (botany)||Torr.|
John Torrey (August 15, 1796 – March 10, 1873) was an American botanist, chemist, and physician. Throughout much of his career, he was a teacher of chemistry, often at multiple universities, while he also pursued botanical work,  focusing on the flora of North America. His most renowned works include studies of the New York flora, the Mexican Boundary, the Pacific railroad surveys, and the uncompleted Flora of North America.
Torrey was born in New York City, the second child of Capt. William and Margaret (née Nichols) Torrey.  He showed a fondness for mechanics, and at one time planned to become a machinist.  When he was 15 or 16, his father received an appointment to the state prison at Greenwich Village, New York, where he was tutored by Amos Eaton, then a prisoner and later a pioneer of natural history studies in America. He thus learned the elements of botany and something of mineralogy and chemistry. In 1815 he began studying medicine with Wright Post, and qualified in 1818. He opened a medical practice in New York City, while devoting his leisure to botany and other scientific pursuits. 
In 1817, he became one of the founders of the New York Lyceum of Natural History (now the New York Academy of Science), and one of his first contributions to this body was his Catalogue of Plants growing spontaneously within Thirty Miles of the City of New York (Albany, 1819). Its publication gained for him the recognition of foreign and native botanists. In 1824 he issued the only volume of his Flora of the Northern and Middle States.  This used John Lindley's system of classifying flora, a way of classifying that was not commonly used in the United States.
He found the medical profession uncongenial, and on August 5, 1824, he entered the United States Army as an assistant surgeon and became acting professor of chemistry and geology at West Point military academy. Three years later, he became professor of chemistry and botany in the College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York (the medical school of Columbia University), where he stayed until 1855, when he was made professor emeritus. He was also professor of chemistry at Princeton 1830–1854, and of chemistry, mineralogy, and botany at the University of the City of New York 1832/3. He resigned from his Army position on August 31, 1828.  In 1835, he was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society. 
In 1836 he was appointed botanist to the state of New York and produced his Flora of that state in 1843; while from 1838 to 1843 he carried on the publication of the earlier portions of Flora of North America, with the assistance of his pupil, Asa Gray.  From 1853 he was chief assayer to the United States assay office in New York City when that office was established, but he continued to take an interest in botanical teaching until his death. He was frequently consulted by the treasury department on matters pertaining to the coinage and currency, and was sent on special missions at various times to visit the different mints. He was elected an Associate Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1856.  
In 1856, Torrey was chosen a trustee of Columbia College, and in 1860, having presented the college with his herbarium, numbering about 50,000 specimens, he was made emeritus professor of chemistry and botany. On the consolidation of the College of Physicians and Surgeons with Columbia in 1860, he was chosen one of its trustees. His advice was frequently sought on scientific subjects by various corporations. 
He was the first president of the Torrey Botanical Club in 1873. Besides being the last surviving charter member of the Lyceum of Natural History, he held its vice presidency for several years, and was president in 1824–26 and 1838, holding the same office in the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1855, and he was one of the original members of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, being named as such by act of the United States Congress in 1863. The degree of A.M. was conferred on him by Yale in 1823, and that of LL.D. by Amherst in 1845. 
Torrey died at his home in New York City on March 10, 1873; he was buried in the family plot at Long Hill Cemetery, Stirling, New Jersey. 
Torrey married Eliza Shaw on April 20, 1824; they had three daughters and a son, Herbert, who became United States Assayer. 
Torrey's earliest publications in the American Journal of Science are on mineralogy. In 1820, he undertook the examination of the plants that had been collected around the headwaters of the Mississippi by David B. Douglass. During the same year, he received the collections made by Edwin James while with the expedition that was sent out to the Rocky Mountains under Major Stephen H. Long. His report was the earliest treatise of its kind in the United States that was arranged on the natural system. Torrey, in the meantime, had planned A Flora of the Northern and Middle United States, or a Systematic Arrangement and Description of all the Plants heretofore discovered in the United States North of Virginia, and in 1824 began its publication in parts, but it was soon suspended owing to the general adoption of the natural system of Antoine Laurent de Jussieu in place of that of Carl Linnaeus. In 1836, on the organization of the geological survey of New York, he was appointed botanist, and required to prepare a flora of the state. His report, consisting of two quarto volumes, was issued in 1843, and was for a long time the most comprehensive for any state in the United States. In 1838, he began with Asa Gray The Flora of North America, which was issued in numbers irregularly until 1843, when they had completed the Compositae , but new botanical material accumulated at such a rapid rate that it was deemed best to discontinue it. 
Subsequently, Torrey published reports on the plants that were collected by John C. Frémont in the expedition to the Rocky Mountains (1845), those gathered by Major William H. Emory on his reconnaissance from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to San Diego, California (1848), the specimens secured by Captain Howard Stansbury on his expedition to the Great Salt Lake of Utah (1852), the plants collected by John C. Frémont in California (1853), those brought back from the Red River of Louisiana by Captain Randolph B. Marcy (1853), and the botany of Captain Lorenzo Sitgreaves's expedition to the Zuni and Colorado Rivers (1854), also memoirs on the botany of the various expeditions for the purpose of determining the most practicable route for a Pacific Railroad (1855–1860). 
He reported on the Botany of the Mexican Boundary Survey (1859), that of the expedition upon the Colorado River under Lieutenant Joseph C. Ives (1861), and, in association with Asa Gray, the botanical collections of the Wilkes exploring expedition. The last was in his hands at the time of his death, its publication having been delayed by the Civil War. 
His bibliography is extensive, including contributions on botanical subjects to scientific periodicals and to the transactions of the societies of which he was a member. 
Torrey's name is commemorated in the small coniferous genus Torreya , found in North America, China and Japan. Some species within this genus include:
P. torreyana an endangered species from southern California, is also named after the botanist. Torrey first described the carnivorous plant Darlingtonia californica , which he named after his friend Dr. William Darlington.  Torrey Canyon in Ventura County, California, was named for him, as was Torreys Peak in Colorado, near Grays Peak, named after his pupil and friend Asa Gray. 
A bronze bas-relief portrait of Torrey is mounted in the main building of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, a former site of Dr. Torrey's summer home.  A similar portrait is owned by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. In 2017, the Torrey Botanical Society, started by colleagues of John Torrey, celebrated its 150th birthday. It is the oldest botanical society in the Americas.
Torreys Peak, a fourteen thousand foot mountain in Colorado, was named for Torrey.
Asa Gray is considered the most important American botanist of the 19th century. His Darwiniana was considered an important explanation of how religion and science were not necessarily mutually exclusive. Gray was adamant that a genetic connection must exist between all members of a species. He was also strongly opposed to the ideas of hybridization within one generation and special creation in the sense of its not allowing for evolution. He was a strong supporter of Darwin, although Gray's theistic evolution was guided by a Creator.
Edward Tuckerman was an American botanist and professor who made significant contributions to the study of lichens and other alpine plants. He was a founding member of the Natural History Society of Boston and most of his career was spent at Amherst College. He did the majority of his collecting on the slopes of Mount Washington in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Tuckerman Ravine was named in his honor. The standard botanical author abbreviation Tuck. is applied to species he described.
Amos Eaton was an American botanist, geologist, and educator who is considered the founder of the modern scientific prospectus in education, which was a radical departure from the American liberal arts tradition of classics, theology, lecture, and recitation. Eaton co-founded the Rensselaer School in 1824 with Stephen van Rensselaer III "in the application of science to the common purposes of life". His books in the eighteenth century were among the first published for which a systematic treatment of the United States was attempted, and in a language that all could read. His teaching laboratory for botany in the 1820s was the first of its kind in the country. Eaton's popular lectures and writings inspired numerous thinkers, in particular women, whom he encouraged to attend his public talks on experimental philosophy. Emma Willard would found the Troy Female Seminary, and Mary Mason Lyon, the Mount Holyoke Female Seminary. Eaton held the rank of senior professor at Rensselaer until his death in 1842.
Charles Christopher Parry was a British-American botanist and mountaineer.
Isaac Sprague was a self-taught landscape, botanical, and ornithological painter. He was America's best known botanical illustrator of his day.
Torreya californica is a species of conifer endemic to California, occurring in the Pacific Coast Ranges and the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. It is commonly known as California torreya or California nutmeg tree.
Merritt Lyndon Fernald was an American botanist. He was a respected scholar of the taxonomy and phytogeography of the vascular plant flora of temperate eastern North America. During his career, Fernald published more than 850 scientific papers and wrote and edited the seventh and eighth editions of Gray's Manual of Botany. Fernald coauthored the book Edible Wild Plants of Eastern North America in 1919–1920 with Alfred Kinsey, which was published in 1943.
Charles Theodor Mohr was a pharmacist and botanist of German descent who lived and worked in the United States.
Jane Colden was an American botanist, described as the "first botanist of her sex in her country" by Asa Gray in 1843. Although not acknowledged in contemporary botanical publications, she wrote a number of letters resulting in botanist John Ellis writing to Carl Linnaeus of her work applying the Linnaean system of plant identification to American flora, for which botanist Peter Collinson stated "she deserves to be celebrated". Contemporary scholarship maintains that she was the first female botanist working in America. She was regarded as a respected botanist by many prominent botanists including John Bartram, Peter Collinson, Alexander Garden, and Carl Linnaeus. Colden is most famous for her untitled manuscript, housed in the British Museum, in which she describes the flora of the Hudson Valley in the Newburgh region of New York state, including ink drawings of 340 different species.
William Starling Sullivant was an early American botanist recognized as the foremost authority on bryophytes in the United States.
William Darlington, was an American physician, botanist, and politician who served as a Democratic-Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives for Pennsylvania's 2nd congressional district from 1819 to 1823.
George Vasey was an English-born American botanist who collected a lot in Illinois before integrating the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), where he became Chief Botanist and curator of the greatly expanded National Herbarium.
Michael Schuck Bebb was an amateur systematic botanist in the 19th century with a reputation as the leading salicologist in both America and Europe. His extensive work on the genus Salix led to several plants being named in his honour.
Stephen Elliott was an American legislator, banker, educator, and botanist who is today remembered for having written one of the most important works in American botany, A Sketch of the Botany of South-Carolina and Georgia. The plant genus Elliottia is named after him.
William Baldwin was an American physician and botanist who is today remembered for his significant contributions to botanical studies, especially Cyperaceae. He lived in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Georgia, and served as a ship's surgeon on two voyages overseas. He published only two scientific papers, but his major contributions were in the knowledge that he imparted to other botanists in his letters to them and in the thousands of specimens that he provided for their herbaria. He wrote letters to Henry Muhlenberg, Stephen Elliott, William Darlington, Zaccheus Collins, and others. His most important collections were from Georgia, Florida, and eastern South America. When he died, he left a large herbarium that proved to be of great value, especially to Lewis David von Schweinitz, John Torrey, and Asa Gray. He had a special interest in the plant family Cyperaceae and his incomplete, unpublished manuscripts were a major source for monographs by John Torrey and Asa Gray. The historian Joseph Ewan has said that "Baldwin's treatment of a number of genera, especially in the Cyperaceae, showed penetrating observation, understanding, and diagnosis". The genus Balduina was named for him by Thomas Nuttall. Most of what we know of him is from the biography written by his friend, William Darlington, in 1843.
William Dunlop Brackenridge (1810–1893) was a British-American nurseryman and botanist.
This George Engelmann bibliography provides an overview of works written by the 19th century scientist George Engelmann. They appeared mostly in journals such as the London Journal of Botany, the Botanischen Zeitung, the Boston Journal of Natural History, the American Journal of Science and Arts, the Transactions of the Academy of Science of St. Louis, the Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, the Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club, the American Naturalist, and the Botanical Gazette or the Gardeners' Chronicle.
Willard Webster Eggleston was an American botanist, employed by the United States Department of Agriculture Bureau of Plant Industry. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1891 with a Bachelor of Science degree. In his work on the taxonomy of Crataegus, now known to be complicated by apomixis, polyploidy, and hybridization, he aimed to simplify, counteracting the proliferation of species names that other botanists had produced.
John Milton Bigelow was an American physician and botanist. He had a successful medical practice, and also, a keen interest in botany - especially native plants with medical applications. He participated as a botanist and surgeon on two important expeditions through the American Southwest—the Mexican Boundary Survey and the 35th Parallel Expedition for the Pacific Railroad Surveys. He also amassed a significant collection of California plants that yielded many new species. He communicated his botanical results with the three top American botanists of the day, John Torrey, Asa Gray, and George Engelmann. Many of his botanical discoveries were named after or by him. He contributed to the botanical and medical literature of his day.
John Howard Redfield was an American botanist, conchologist, and businessman. He was a founder of the Botany section of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, and his chief botanical works include "Geographical Distribution of the Ferns of North America" and Flora of Mount Desert Island, Maine.
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