Odoardo Beccari

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Odoardo Beccari.

Odoardo Beccari (16 November 1843 – 25 October 1920) was an Italian naturalist perhaps best known for discovering the titan arum, the plant with the largest unbranched inflorescence in the world, in Sumatra in 1878. This botanist is denoted by the author abbreviation Becc. when citing a botanical name.[1]


An orphan from Florence, Beccari studied at a school in Lucca and the universities in Pisa and Bologna. He was the student of Ugolino Martelli. After graduating, he spent a few months at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, where he met Charles Darwin, William Hooker and Joseph Hooker, and James Brooke, the first rajah of Sarawak. The latter connection lead to him spending 3 years from 1865 to 1868 undertaking research in Sarawak and Brunei on the island of Borneo and on other islands off present-day Indonesia, Malaysia, and Papua New Guinea. He spent most of his time in Indonesia (then Dutch East Indies) and was believed to be able to speak Malay, Javanese, and Sundanese fairly fluently. During his career he discovered many new species of plants, mainly palms (family Arecaceae). In 1866 he discovered and drew in his notebook the plant Thismia neptunis of the family Thismiaceae; only after 151 years, in 2017, was this discovery confirmed.[2]

After an expedition to Ethiopia, he made a second trip to New Guinea, this time with ornithologist Luigi D'Albertis in 1872. Here they collected zoological specimens, especially birds-of-paradise and ethnographic materials.

Beccari founded the Nuovo Giornale Botanico Italiano (New Italian Botanic Journal) in 1869, and also published his results in Bolletino della Società Geografica Italiana.[3] He described Corpse Plant in 1878, located in Sumatra. In the same year, on his return to Florence, he became Director of the Botanic Garden of Florence as successor to Filippo Parlatore but resigned in the following year, 1879, after conflicts with the administration. In 1882 he married and had four sons.

Beccari's botanical collection now forms part of the Museo di Storia Naturale di Firenze. While the greatest part of Beccari's archive is preserved at the University of Florence, some travel notes can be found in the library of the Museo Galileo.[4]

The botanical journal Beccariana from Herbarium Manokwariense, Universitas Negeri Papua (UNIPA), Manokwari, Papua Barat, Indonesia, is named after him, see external links below

Selected works[edit]

  • Malesia, raccolta d'osservazioni lese e papuano (three volumes, 1877–1889).
  • Nelle Foreste di Borneo. Viaggi e ricerche di un naturalista (S. Landi, Florence, 1902).
  • Wanderings in the great forests of Borneo; travels and researches of a naturalist in Sarawak (A. Constable, London, 1904).
  • Asiatic Palms (1908).
  • Palme del Madagascar descritte ed illustrate (1912).
  • Nova Guinea, Selebes e Molucche. Diari di viaggio ordinati dal figlio Prof. Dott. Nello Beccari (La Voce, Florence, 1924).

Genera and species named after Odoardo Beccari[edit]



See also[edit]


  1. ^ Brummitt RK, Powell CE (1992). Authors of Plant Names. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. ISBN 978-1-84246-085-6.
  2. ^ SOCHOR, MICHAL; EGERTOVÁ, ZUZANA; HRONEŠ, MICHAL; DANČÁK, MARTIN (21 February 2018). "Rediscovery of Thismia neptunis (Thismiaceae) after 151 years". Phytotaxa. 340 (1). ISSN 1179-3163.
  3. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Gilman, D. C.; Peck, H. T.; Colby, F. M., eds. (1905). "Beccari, Odoardo" . New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead.
  4. ^ "Inventory of Beccari's documents at the Museo Galileo library" (PDF).
  5. ^ "Internet Orchid Species Photo Encyclopedia".
  6. ^ a b c d e Beolens B, Watkins M, Grayson M (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. iii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. ("Beccari", pp. 20-21).
  7. ^ Rock JF (April 1916). "Palmyra Island, with a Description of its Flora". Bulletin Number 4. College of Hawaii.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]