History of Somerset Botany

The late Clive Lovatt was a diligent researcher into the history of botany and botanists in Somerset and elsewhere. This section is dedicated to his memory, his enormous contribution to botany in Somerset, Gloucestershire, and nationally, and his eternal patience with those many people less knowledgeable than himself.

Clive Lovatt (1955-2022). Photo © Liz McDonnell

While members may wish to add articles to this section, it currently holds Clive’s six Joy of Botany columns which were written to entertain his fellow enthusiasts during the enforced isolation of the recent pandemic. Also included is a presentation by Clive on George Garlick and the flora of Leigh Woods. Some minor edits have been made to the articles and internet links have been inserted where they were felt to be useful.

Clive completed six Joy of Botany columns, the last of which ends with this intriguing trailer in reference to a collection in the Taunton herbarium. If any member is interested in further research into this question or any other aspect of the history of botany in Somerset the committee would be delighted to hear from you.

So who was Dr A Southby, from whose herbarium the specimen came? In 1832, when he made the collection, his name was Dr Anthony Gapper and in the next instalment of the Joy of Botany, I will introduce you to him. His story is a curious one. It involves (though not necessarily in the same order), the unwrapping of an Egyptian mummy, a journey to the colonies, an association with a vole, being granted a coat of arms, and, most importantly for us, another long-forgotten list of Somerset plants.

Some further clues are available in an article on “The curious life of Anthony Gapper, honoured by the genus Southbya” by David Meagher, School of Botany, The University of Melbourne, in the Australian Bryological Newsletter number 60 (April 2012) p.11.

Val Graham February 2024.