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“A taste for botany” Ferdinand von Mueller’s female plant collectors

Sara Maroske & Alison Vaughan - Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne, plant sciences and biodiversity seminar series

Ferdinand von Mueller was Australia’s greatest 19th century scientist: he was a founding director of Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens and a prolific describer of new species of Australian plants.

It has long been known that Mueller built up a vast network of collectors across Australia to help him with his work, but the demographics of this network have not been well understood.

Recent research at the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne by historian Dr Sara Maroske and curator Alison Vaughan has revealed the important contribution that women and girls made to Mueller’s work.

They have identified 225 female collectors in Mueller’s network, which represents about 12 per cent of his total network. In the same time period, only 4 per cent of the collecting network of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew was female.

In this behind-the-scenes talk about their research, Sara Maroske will focus on the stories of three of Mueller’s female collectors, and how she pieced together the details of their lives: Mueller’s fiancée Euphemia Henderson; Victorian poet, Annie McCann; and Nyungar collector from Western Australia, Lucy Eades. Alison Vaughan will use specimens from the collections to illustrate the curatorial significance of the biographical register, and how this research both relies on, and adds value to, the National Herbarium of Victoria’s collections database.


Tuesday 2 September


Mueller Hall, National Herbarium of Victoria, cnr Birdwood Avenue and Dallas Brooks Drive



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