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Biographical entry Womersley, John (1920 - 1985)

Bristol, United Kingdom
2 September 1985
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Systematic botanist


John Womersley was a botanist who for nearly 30 years worked for the Division of Forests in Lae, Papua New Guinea, becoming Assistant Director of the Division. He had an extensive knowledge of the geography and flora of Papua New Guinea and its close neighbours, much of it gained from exploration on foot. He expanded the Lae Herbarium from a few thousand to over 250,000 specimens. At the same time he developed and became Director of the National Botanical Gardens in Lae. Womersley inaugurated the publications program of the Division, notably with the first of the 3-volume Handbooks of the flora of Papua New Guinea (1978). He was particularly interested in showy species with potential for horticultural purposes, especially Rhododendron, Begonia, Hoya and Tecomanthe. Womersley retired to Adelaide where he continued his taxonomic research on Vireya Rhododendrons, undertook consultancies including for FAO in Bangladesh and Cameroon, and led tours focussed on the flora of Papua New Guinea. More that 20 Papuan species were named in his honour.



Life event - Migrated to Australia with his family
1946 - 1975
Career position - Forest Botanist (later Assistant Director), Division of Botany, Papua New Guinea
Life event - Retired to Adelaide

Helen Cohn