Gray, Asa

Gray, Asa, 1810–88, one of America's leading botanists and taxonomists, b. Oneida co., N.Y. As professor of natural history at Harvard from 1842, he was the teacher of many eminent botanists. Through his voluminous writings in periodicals and his well-known textbooks, he helped popularize the study of botany. With John Torrey he explored the W United States and helped to revise the taxonomic procedure of Linnaeus on the basis of a more natural classification. Gray's Manual of Botany was edited by M. L. Fernald (8th centennial ed. 1950); it is a standard reference work for the flora of the United States E of the Rocky Mts. He initiated the quarterly Gray Herbarium Card Index, listing all the vascular plants of the Western Hemisphere described since 1873. Among his many other writings, which are still highly valued, are Structural Botany (6th ed. 1879) and The Elements of Botany (1887).

See his letters (ed. by J. L. Gray, 1893, repr. 1973); biography by A. H. Dupree (1968).

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