Who Is Botanist Asa Gray?


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Asa Gray was an American botanist in the 19th century whose discoveries and contributions to the field of American plants are still used today. His defining work, "Manual of the Botany of the Northern United States, from New England to Wisconsin and South to Ohio and Pennsylvania Inclusive," which is more commonly known as "Gray's Manual," is considered a standard reference material in the botany field.

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Gray was born in Sauquiot, N.Y., in 1810 and died in 1888 in Cambridge, Mass. He worked closely with chemistry professor John Torrey on a number of publications throughout his life. In addition to being an author and a botanist, Gray was a professor at the University of Michigan and Harvard University, where he established botany programs during his time. Gray also had a professional relationship with Charles Darwin and provided information about American plant distributions that helped shape Darwin's evolutionary theory.

After his death at the age of 77, Gray was buried at the Mount Auburn Cemetery. A garden in the cemetery is named after him.

As a result of Gray's substantial contributions to the field of botany, the American Society of Plant Taxonomists created an award named in his honor in 1984. This award is presented to botanists who have made substantial career achievements.

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