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John Day (botanist)02.jpg
Anguloa clowesii Lindley 1844

John Day (1824–1888) was an English orchid-grower and collector, and is noted for producing some 3 000 illustrations of orchid species in 53 scrapbooks over a period of 25 years. These scrapbooks were donated to The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in 1902 by his sister, Emma Wolstenholme.[1]

Day was born in the City of London in 1824, the son of a wealthy wine merchant whose hobby was growing tropical orchids.[2] Between 1863 and 1888 at the height of orchid mania in Victorian England, John Day painted and sketched orchids from his own collection in Tottenham, London nurseries, and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and visited the tropics to see orchid habitat at first hand. A large number of his illustrations depict plants he had coaxed into flower and are the first-known images of species. He maintained close links with Heinrich Gustav Reichenbach, the orchid taxonomist at the University of Hamburg, who named several species in honour of Day.

In 2004 Thames and Hudson published a collection of John Day's artwork in A Very Victorian Passion: The Orchid Paintings of John Day by Phillip Cribb and Michael Tibbs, two leading authorities on Orchidaceae, who provide a detailed review of the history, background, and botany of the orchids depicted.

This botanist is denoted by the author abbreviation J.Day when citing a botanical name.[3]


  1. ^ Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew: Exhibitions: John Day Scrapbooks:
  2. ^ Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew: Exhibitions: John Day Scrapbooks:
  3. ^ Brummitt, R. K.; C. E. Powell (1992). Authors of Plant Names. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. ISBN 1-84246-085-4.  
  • Cribb, Phillip and Michael Tibbs. A Very Victorian Passion: The Orchid Paintings of John Day. Kew: Blacker Publishing and Thames and Hudson, 2004. ISBN 0-500-97015-7

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