William T. Stearn

William Thomas Stearn ( born April 16, 1911 in Cambridge, † 9 May 2001, London ) was a British botanist. Its official botanical author abbreviation is " Stearn ".


He is the eldest son of Thomas Stearn and his wife Nellie.

From 1922 to 1929 he attended the Cambridge and County School for Boys, where his interest in botany and zoology awoke.

Due to the poverty of his family after the death of his father, he began an apprenticeship as a bookseller in 1929, but studied in his spare time with the support of university patrons on botany. He often visited the Cambridge Botanical Garden, against which collection he prepared later revisions of the genera Vinca, epimedium, hosta and Symphytum and described in 1930 his first type, the Chinese Allium farreri. In 1931 he began working for a monograph of the genus Epimedium and Vancouveria, 1938 as Epimedium and Vancouveria ( Berberidaceae ), a monograph was published.

In 1933 he got a job at the Lindley Library of the Royal Horticultural Society. He made valuable contributions to the taxonomy of plants by nachrecherchierte by intensive study of sources as many inaccurately dated plant descriptions of the 19th century, the exact date of publication. Alone with the Post Dating the 106 parts of the Histoire naturelle des Îles Canaries ( 1835-1850 ) by Philip Barker Webb and Sabin Berthelot he studied for three years.

In 1950 he co-authored with Hubert Bayley Drysdale Woodcock 's work Lilies of the world. But the work that made him world-famous Botanical name was Latin; the first edition appeared in 1966, almost unchanged additional editions appeared in 1973, 1983 and 1992. He gave so all foreign botanists the option of the Latin, which is necessary for botanical descriptions to better understand and write. His knowledge of literature and the history of botany of all ages were so extensive that he was asked for many reprints to write an introduction. He wrote the most important comment about Carl Linnaeus Species plantarum for the reprint of the Ray Society, 1957, among the other works that he has written or edited, including the International Code of Nomenclature for cultivated plants, 1952.; also the work The art of botanical illustration; co-authored with Wilfried Blunt, 1950 and 1994.

He was for decades an employee of the British Museum ( Natural History ) in London and dealt with plants from the Caribbean. For the Flora Europaea, he wrote the text to the genus Allium with about 110 European species.


In 1964 he was awarded the Veitch Memorial Medal of the Royal Horticultural Society.1976 Linnean Medal of the Linnean Society of London was awarded to him, which he was president from 1979 to 1982. There are also numerous other honors, including the Asa Gray Award, which he received in 2000. In honor of the type Stearn Justicia stearnii VAWGraham was named.


  • William Thomas Stearn: Botanical Latin, History, Grammar, Syntax, Terminology and Vocabulary London, 1st edition 1966, 2nd edition 1973, 3rd edition 1983, 4th edition 1992.
  • William Thomas Stearn: An introduction to the ' Species Plantarum ' and cognate botanical works of Carl Linnaeus. Reprint, Ray Society, 1957.
  • William T. Stearn: Stearn's dictionary of plant names for gardeners. Cassell, 1992.
  • William T. Stearn: Allium. Flora Europaea 5: pp. 49-69, 1980.
  • Wilfrid Blunt, William T. Stearn The Art of Botanical Illustration, Collins, London, 1950; new edition, Antique Collectors ' Club, 1994.