Two Warwickshire Men and the Birth of Botany


Planters, gardeners and plant breeders need to be able to describe and classify plants.

In the sixteenth century, there were several attempts to produce classifications or taxonomies. Two largely unknown Warwickshire men, Nehemiah Grew and John Ray, made crucial contributions to understanding the sexuality and classification of plants.

The younger of the two, Grew was born at Mancetter near Atherstone, the son of Obadiah Grew. Much of his youth was spent in Coventry, where his puritan father was minister of St. Michael’s Church during the Commonwealth. He studied at Cambridge and Leiden before following the more famous Robert Hooke (1635-1703) in using the newly available microscope. His chosen study was the anatomy of plants.

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