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Biographical entry Stone, Ilma Grace (1913 - 2001)

11 June 1913
Brunswick, Victoria, Australia
4 January 2001
Victoria, Australia
Bryologist and Botanist
Alternative Names
  • Balfe, Ilma Grace (maiden name)


Ilma Stone was a brilliant scholar. She was dux of her school at age 16 and completed a Master of Science (Botany) at the University of Melbourne by the age of 20. Her Masters dissertation was on disease - producing fungi in ornamental plants and was published in 1935. Ilma married Alan Stone in 1936 and spent the next 20 years away from research, raising her family.


In 1957, at the age of 44, Ilma Stone returned to botanical research. First she worked as a part-time demonstrator and researcher at the University of Melbourne. After completing her PhD in 1963, she was appointed to a full-time position. Stone's research concentrated on Australian ferns and then mosses. In 1976 the book The Mosses of Southern Australia was released and is still the only book to specialize in Australian mosses. It took Stone and Dr George Scott around five years to write.

Stone retired in 1978, after which she was made Senior Associate and later Associate Professor of the Department of Botany at the University of Melbourne. Of her 70 published papers, 11 were written while Stone was in her 80s. Several genera and species of moss have been named in her honour (e.g. Stonea and Stoneobryum) and was made an honourary member of the British Bryological Society in 1982.

Published resources

Encyclopedia of Australian Science Exhibitions


  • Scott, George A. M. and Stone, Ilma G.: illustrations by Rosser, Celia, The Mosses of Southern Australia, Academic Press, London: New York, 1976, 495 pp. Details

Journal Articles

  • Beever, Jessica E., 'A Tribute - Ilma G Stone 1913-2001', Australasian Bryological Newsletter, vol. 43, 2001, pp. 2-5. Details
  • Brown, Gillian, 'Mosses, liverworts and hornworts: significant bryophyte collections at the University of Melbourne Herbarium', University of Melbourne Collections, vol. 8, 2011, pp. -7. Details
  • Seppelt, R. D., Beever, J. E. and Milne, J., 'Obituary: Ilma Grace Stone (1913-2001)', Journal of Bryology, vol. 24, no. 2, 2002, pp. 173-5. Details

Newspaper Articles

  • Stone, Claire, 'Obituary: Dr Ilma Grace Stone (nee Balfe), Expert on Australian mosses', The Age, 4 April 2001. Details

Online Resources

Ailie Smith & Annette Alafaci