Benjamin Heyne

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Benjamin Heyne FLS (1770–1819) was a Scottish botanist, naturalist, and surgeon. In 1793, Benjamin Heyne joined the service of the British East India Company and in 1796 was assigned as the Madras Presidency Botanist to Samalkot in British India.

Bangalore collections[edit]

In 1800, after the fall of Mysore, the Lalbagh botanical garden at Bangalore was appropriated by the British East India Company "as a depository for useful plants sent from different parts of the country". Dr. Benjamin Heyne, the Company's botanist at Madras, was ordered by the Governor-General, Richard Wellesley to accompany the Surveyor, with the following instructions:

"A decided superiority must be given to useful plants over those which are merely recommended by their rarity or their beauty,... to collect with care all that is connected with the arts and manufacturers of this country, or that promises to be useful in our own; to give due attention to the timber employed in the various provinces of his route,... and to collect with particular diligence the valuable plants connected with his own immediate profession, i.e. medicine." [1]

An important task assigned to the colonial botanical gardens was dealing with malaria, the largest obstacle to colonial expansion.[1] Heyne was placed in charge of the Lalbagh botanical garden till 1812. He did a great deal of collecting at Coimbatore and Bangalore and compiled a large collection of plant specimens which were forwarded to London.[2] He collected more than 350 species from the Western Ghats and more than 200 species were named by him.[3] He sent many of his Indian botanical specimens to the German botanist Albrecht Wilhelm Roth, whose work Novae plantarum species praesertim Indiae orientali (a book of Indian flora) is largely based on Heyne's botanical specimens.

Mysore survey[edit]

Benjamin Heyne was assistant to Francis Buchanan on his Mysore Survey. He recorded in his Journal, his visits to sites with Col. Colin Mackenzie : "To Sautgur Hill (near Conjeeveram) with Mackenzie. Of the Sienite, they made formerly Cannon balls of which many are found lying all over the Hill." and at Nandydroog which was: "this morning cloathed with a white fog, when the rest of the country was Clear. The country hereabouts pretty well cultivated. Yesterday morning was with Capt. Mackenzie in the Fort, in which the houses, very few excepted, were empty. The garden in it that was formerly famous is entirely neglected and nothing in it worth attention but a few apple and coffee Trees."[4] Dr. Benjamin Heyne died at Madras in 1819.


The standard author abbreviation B.Heyne is used to indicate this person as the author when citing a botanical name.[5]

  • 1793. "Plants of the Coromandel coast: a collection of watercolor botanical drawings of 394 plants and flora". Not published
  • 1800. Joseph Joinville, Thomas John Newbold, James Sowerby, Benjamin Heyne, Mark Wilks, HW Voysey, Theodore Edward Cantor, J. Postaus, John Grant Malcolmson. "List of minerals contained in the Museum of the Honble East India Company". 76 pp.
  • 1813 February. "On the formation of sulphur in India", Benjamin Heyne, East India Company, Madras Army, doi:10.1080/14786441308638711, Philosophical Magazine Series 1, Volume 41, Issue 178 pages 101 - 104, Now published as: Philosophical Magazine Series 2
  • In 1814, Dr. Heyne authored his major work: "Tracts, historical and statistical, on India: with journals of several tours through various parts of the peninsula: also, an account of Sumatra, in a series of letters", 462 pp., printed for R. Baldwin and Black, Parry and Co.,[6]
  • 1819. "On the Deoxidation of the Leaves of Cotyledon calysina": in a Letter to AB Lambert. 3 pp.
  • 1818. P.J. Siddons, Benjamin Heyne. An examination of so much of the tracts, historical and statistical, on India, & c. & c.& c., by Benjamin Heyne, as Related to the account of Sumatra, with various notices on the subjucts of cannibalism, slavery, & c. Ed AJ Valpy. 99 pp.


  1. ^ a b Kochhar, R. K. (10 December 1992). "Science in British India. I. Colonial tool". Current Science. Indian Academy of Sciences. 63 (11): 689–694.
  2. ^ "Developments in Botany, British India". History of India. Jupiter Infomedia Pvt. Ltd. 2008. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  3. ^ "Lalbagh - Bangalore -The Flower show 2009". xomba. 2009. Archived from the original on 25 July 2011. Retrieved 23 March 2010.
  4. ^ "4.28 Col. Colin Mackenzie (1754-1821)". Scotts, Biographical active archive. National Galleries of Scotland. 2000. Retrieved 23 March 2010.
  5. ^ IPNI.  B.Heyne.
  6. ^ Benjamin, Heyne (1814). Tracts, historical and statistical, on India: with journals of several tours through various parts of the peninsula: also, an account of Sumatra, in a series of letters. R. Baldwin and Black, Parry and Co. OCLC 13319038.
Preceded by
William Roxburgh
Naturalist to the H.E.I.C. at Madras
Succeeded by
William Somervell Mitchell