Gray, Asa

Gray, Asa
born Nov. 18, 1810, Sauquoit, N.Y., U.S.
died Jan. 30, 1888, Cambridge, Mass.

U.S. botanist.

He received a medical degree from Fairfield Medical School, where he spent his spare time studying plant specimens. He collaborated with John Torrey (1796–1873) on Flora of North America (1838–43) and in 1842 joined the faculty at Harvard University, where he would teach until 1873. His donation of his thousands of books and plant specimens established Harvard's botany department. Gray was largely responsible for the unification of the taxonomic knowledge of the North American flora; his most widely used book, commonly called Gray's Manual (1848), remains a standard work. He was the chief early American supporter of the theories of Charles Darwin.

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▪ American botanist
born Nov. 18, 1810, Sauquoit, N.Y., U.S.
died Jan. 30, 1888, Cambridge, Mass.

      American botanist whose extensive studies of North American flora did more than the work of any other botanist to unify the taxonomic knowledge of plants of this region. His most widely used book, Manual of the Botany of the Northern United States, from New England to Wisconsin and South to Ohio and Pennsylvania Inclusive (1848), commonly called Gray's Manual, has remained, in successive editions, a standard work in this subject.

      Gray received his M.D. degree from Fairfield Medical School, Connecticut (1831), where he spent his spare time collecting plant specimens and educating himself in botany. In 1834 he went to the College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York City, as assistant to chemistry professor John Torrey (Torrey, John). Gray soon took another position that allowed him to continue his botanical studies and write his first textbook, Elements of Botany (1836). During that time, Gray and Torrey remained good friends, and together they worked on a long project, Flora of North America, 2 vol. (1838–43). In 1878 an expansion of this work was published as the first volume of Synoptical Flora of North America, under Gray's direction.

      Gray spent a year (1838–39) in Europe studying the specimens of North American plants kept in herbaria. On his return to the U.S., he made a systematic study of the flora of the Southeast to include as part of his Flora. In 1842 he accepted the Fisher professorship of natural history at Harvard University. He donated the thousands of books and plants he had collected at his own expense to Harvard in 1865, on condition that the school house the priceless collection in a building. This cooperative effort resulted in the establishment of the botany department at Harvard.

      Gray published many of his scientific reports in the influential American Journal of Science, which for some years he also edited. Some of his best writings, often interpretive in character, concern the geographical distribution of plants. His 1856 paper on plant distribution, “Statistics of the Flora of the Northern United States,” was written partly in response to a request by Charles Darwin (Darwin, Charles) for a list of American alpine plants. Gray was one of the few persons whom Darwin kept fully informed concerning the publication of his Origin of Species (1859). Gray was a devout Christian, however, and, although he did accept natural selection as the cause of new species, he did not believe it to be the only cause of variation, which he considered to be caused by some inherent power imparted in the beginning by divine agency. But Gray, an excellent writer of philosophical essays, biographies, and scientific criticism, staunchly supported Darwin and collected his supporting papers into the widely influential Darwiniana (1876, reprinted 1963).

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Gray,Asa — Gray (grā), Asa. 1810 1888. American botanist who greatly enlarged and improved the description of North American flora and was the chief American advocate of Charles Darwin s theories. * * * …   Universalium

  • Gray, Asa — (18 nov. 1810, Sauquoit, N.Y., EE.UU.–30 ene. 1888, Cambridge, Mass.). Botánico estadounidense. Se tituló de médico en la Escuela de medicina Fairfield, donde pasó su tiempo libre estudiando especímenes vegetales. Colaboró con John Torrey… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • GRAY, ASA —    a distinguished American botanist, born at Paris, Oneida County, New York; graduated in medicine in 1842; became Fisher professor of Natural History at Harvard, and in 1874 succeeded Agassiz as Regent of the Smithsonian Institution; his… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Asa Gray — by Whipple, 1864. Born Novemb …   Wikipedia

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  • Asa Gray — (* 18. November 1810 in Paris, New York; † 30. Januar 1888 in Cambridge, Massachusetts) war ein US amerikanischer Botaniker. Inhaltsverzeichnis …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Gray — /gray/, n. 1. Asa /ay seuh/, 1810 88, U.S. botanist. 2. Thomas, 1716 71, English poet. * * * (as used in expressions) gray fox Gray Asa Gray Thomas Otis Harrison Gray Anne Gray Harvey * * * ▪ physics       unit of absorbed dose of i …   Universalium

  • Asa Gray — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Gray. Asa Gray en 1867. Asa Gray, né le 18 novembre 1810 et mort le 30  …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Asa — I (Del lat. ansa.) ► sustantivo femenino 1 Parte arqueada y saliente de un objeto, que sirve para cogerlo por ella: ■ si lo hubieras cogido por el asa no se te habría caído la taza. SINÓNIMO mango agarradero 2 Motivo o causa alegada para hacer… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • gray — gray1 grayly, adv. grayness, n. /gray/, adj., grayer, grayest, n., v. adj. 1. of a color between white and black; having a neutral hue. 2. dark, dismal, or gloomy: gray skies. 3. dull, dreary, or monotonous …   Universalium

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