Botanist, Deceased Person
1825 – 1846
Who was Thomas Edmondston?
Thomas Edmondston was a British-born botanist, born in Buness, Unst.
The family of Edmondston was prominent in 19th-century Shetland. Thomas Edmondston's uncle, also Thomas Edmondston, was laird of the Buness estate on Unst and host to many scientific visitors to Shetland. Another uncle, Dr Arthur Edmondston, had written A View of the Ancient and Present State of the Zetland Islands in 1809. His father, Laurence Edmondston, was also an accomplished naturalist.
Edmondston the botanist compiled the first known list of Shetland plants at the age of 11 and which he showed to the visiting Sir Joseph Hooker, an eminent botanist of the time. He discovered several rare plants growing on the serpentine rocks on Unst, including the endemic Shetland Mouse-ear Cerastium nigrescens, known as Edmondston's Chickweed on the island. In 1845, he produced his Flora of Shetland, which, despite a few shortcomings, was a considerable achievement given his age and it is still an important reference for Shetland botany. Less well-known is his fauna, mainly a list of birds, published in the journal The Zoologist in 1844.
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