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Summary Article: Torrey, John
From Chambers Biographical Dictionary


US botanist

Born in New York City, he qualified in medicine before teaching physical sciences at the West Point Military Academy. He joined the US army as assistant surgeon in 1824. He was professor of chemistry at West Point, and at Cornell University, before becoming Chief Assayer at the US Assay Office in New York (1854-1873). Throughout his life, his main interest was botany. He founded the New York Lyceum of Natural History, and became emeritus professor of botany and chemistry at Columbia College in 1856. He prepared several floras for North America and his collection of over 50,000 plant species formed the basis for the herbarium of the New York Botanical Gardens. The genus Torreya in the yew family is named after him, as well as the Torrey Botanical Club. His publications include A Flora of the Northern and Middle Sections of the United States (1824), A Flora of North America (1838-43) and Flora of the State of New York (1843).

© Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd 2011

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