Centuries Later, America’s First Female Botanist Lives On in a Community Garden

Centuries Later, America’s First Female Botanist Lives On in a Community Garden

Jane Colden defied gender barriers to become an early expert in Linnaean taxonomy.

 
Jane Colden’s drawing of wild basil, or Clinopodium vulgare. The Natural History Museum/Alamy
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In 1728, the young Jane Colden moved with her family to a plot of land in the Hudson Valley that, according to her father, was populated less by people and more by “wolves, bears, and other wild animals.” Much of colonial New York was forested back then, and the overgrown landscape would become Colden’s office as she worked as a prolific amateur botanist, drawing and describing 400 species of plants that grew in her (relatively sprawling) backyard…