Elmer Drew Merrill

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Merrill's former residence (left), located in the Logan Circle neighborhood of Washington, D.C.

Elmer Drew Merrill (October 15, 1876 – February 25, 1956) was an American botanist, specializing in the flora of the Asia-Pacific region.

He was born in Auburn, Maine, and attended the University of Maine where he received a B.S. in 1898. He subsequently joined the United States Department of Agriculture and served as a USDA botanist in the Philippines from 1902 to 1923. By the end of his time in the Philippines, he was the Director of the Bureau of Sciences and a Professor of Botany at the University of the Philippines. Merrill also helped record over 14,000 different plants. His knowledge of Philippines plant life served him well during World War II when he assisted the War Department in concerns to safe plants and food sources. [1]

He returned to the United States and became the Dean of the College of Agriculture, University of California, Berkeley. In 1929 he moved to New York to become a professor of botany at Columbia University. He was also the Director of the New York Botanical Garden from 1929 to 1935.[2] During his his time as the Director of the New York Botanical Garden he also helped use Botanical personnel to assist with public works projects, such as horicultural development in New York City. [1] 1935 he became director of the Arnold Arboretum, Harvard University where he remained until his retirement in 1946.

He was known for his extensive study of the taxonomy of plants from Asia. His writings included Flora of Manila published 1912, and The Enumeration of Philippine Flowering Plants published in sections between 1922 and 1926. In 1953 he became foreign member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.[3] His final work The Botany of Cook's Voyages was published in 1954.

He died in Forest Hills, Massachusetts.



  1. ^ a b "Elmer Drew Merrill Papers (PP)". 
  2. ^ New York Botanical Gardens Mertz Library Archives and Manuscripts Collections. "Elmer Drew Merrill Records". Retrieved 18 July 2015. 
  3. ^ "E.D. Merrill (1876 - 1956)". Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 19 July 2015. 
  4. ^ "Author Query for 'Merr.'". International Plant Names Index. 

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