Southern Africa is globally known for its considerable floristic diversity and for the past several centuries the region has attracted the research attention of both foreign and southern African botanists. While the majority of the plant scientists, including taxonomists, working on the regional flora was male, women have made significant contributions to the botany of southern Africa. We provide a comprehensive review of the role women played in botany in the region, from the earliest days of recorded botanical endeavour (c. mid-17th century) and for the ensuing c. 300 years. The women are exhaustively catalogued and the parts they played in advancing botany, and where appropriate some related plant-based activities, such as horticulture, are noted and assessed. It is shown that women played an important but generally underappreciated role in botanical research, fieldwork, and specimen collecting, as well as in herbarium management and institutional development.

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Naturalis Biodiversity Center
Blumea: Biodiversity, Evolution and Biogeography of Plants

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Naturalis journals & series

Figueiredo, E., & Smith, G.F. (2021). Women in the first three centuries of formal botany in southern Africa. Blumea: Biodiversity, Evolution and Biogeography of Plants, 66(3), 275–307. doi:10.3767/blumea.2021.66.03.10