Ralph Randles Stewart

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Ralph Randles Stewart
Born April 15, 1890
New York City, New York, United States of America
Died November 6, 1993(1993-11-06) (aged 103)
Duarte, California, United States
Residence Islamabad, Pakistan
Nationality American
Fields Botany
Institutions Gordon College
University of Michigan
Columbia University, New York
Alma mater Columbia University, United States
University of Punjab, Pakistan
Alma College, Michigan, United States
Known for His work on the Botany and educational efforts in the Universities and college of Pakistan and United States.
Notable awards Kaiser-e-Hind (1938)
Sitara-e-Imtiaz (1961)

Ralph Randles Stewart (April 15, 1890 – November 6, 1993)[1] usually referred to as R. R. Stewart, was an American botanist who spent his career teaching and studying plants in Pakistan.


He was born in New York City. Stewart obtained his Ph.D. degree (1916) from Columbia University, New York; D.Sc. Honorary (1953) from the University of the Punjab, Lahore and LLD Honorary (1963) from Alma College, Michigan, USA.


On a call from the UP Church, India, Stewart joined the Gordon College, Rawalpindi in 1911 to teach elementary Botany and Zoology to pre-medical students. He served as Professor in Botany (1917–1960) and Principal Gordon College, Rawalpindi (1934–1954).

Stewart moved to the United States and worked as Research Associate (1960–1981) at the University of Michigan Herbarium[2] with over 30,000 plant specimens collected from India, Kashmir, Iran etc.


In recognition of his services to educational and botanical work, Stewart was awarded Kaiser-e-Hind (Emperor of India) gold medal 1938, Sitara-e-Imtiaz (Star of Distinction) 1961, Member American Association for Advancement of Sciences 1984, foreign member Pakistan Academy of Sciences 1983.


At that time the flora of India and Western Himalayas was not well known. Stewart embarked on collection trips, often going on his pushbike, and went as far as the capital of Kashmir and then crossed into Western Tibet on foot. He continued to collect plants every summer (1912–1959) without any financial support. In 1960, when Dr. Stewart retired at the age of 70, he gave his collection of over 50,000 plant specimens, now called the Stewart Collection, to Professor E. Nasir at Gordon College (Rawalpindi). The Stewart Collection has been deposited in the National Herbarium of the government of Pakistan at Islamabad, leaving a very rich heritage for the students of plant sciences.

Stewart has remained as the real stalwart of systematic botany in Pakistan having spent more than 50 years in the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent. Dr. Stewart made comprehensive reports on the flora of N. W. Himalayas, Western Tibet, Kashmir, Kurram Valley, flora of Balochistan and grasses of West Pakistan. Apart from collecting flowering plants, Dr. Stewart made a scientific contribution in the collection of mosses, plant disease specimens like rusts, smuts and fleshy fungi which have since been published in Mycologia by Dr. Arthur and Dr. Cummins of Purdue University. One of his most important contributions "An Annotated Catalogue of Vascular Plants of Pakistan and Kashmir (1972)" serves as the basis of writing the Flora of Pakistan edited by E. Nasir and S.I. Ali (1970–1988), S. I. Ali and Y. J. Nasir (1989–1991) and S. I. Ali and M. Qaiser (1992–). Dr. Stewart again came to Pakistan in 1990 to attend and make a presentation at the International Symposium on Plant life of South Asia. The symposium was organized at the Department of Botany, University of Karachi, to commemorate the centenary of Dr. Stewart. The participation of Stewart is indicative of his interest of plant sciences and his love for Pakistan.

In 1982, at the age of 91, Stewart wrote a sort of memoir, Flora of Pakistan: History and Exploration of Plants in Pakistan and Adjoining Areas, in which he wrote:

"As a fresh graduate of Columbia University in New York City ... I began to lecture in Botany and Zoology in a tiny Presbyterian Mission college in Rawalpindi with only 86 students. I had a three-year appointment and not expecting to be in India again, I wondered what would be the most interesting way to spend the two summers I expected to have in the East, on a slender budget (my salary was $600 a year with a room in a dormitory). In 1911, with four young men (two Americans, a Bengali and a Scot) who wanted an adventurous summer vacation, we decided that a good way to utilize the summer of 1912 would be to hike in Kashmir and Western Tibet (Ladak). Two of us worked in Gordon College, Rawalpindi, at the beginning of the cart road to Kashmir constructed in 1890 with a good deal of cost and difficulty. It crossed the first Himalayan Range at Jhicca Gali near Murree (2100 m), descended to the Jhelum River at Kohala and then followed the river to Srinagar, a distance of 196 miles. We had nearly three months of vacation and we left Rawalpindi at the beginning of July on our push-bikes. It was still in the horse a buggy age, just before the Model-T Fords and the buses began to carry visitors to Kashmir. Our cook and baggage traveled in a one-horse, springless vehicle called an ekka. I was the only botanist in the party. The other were interested in taking pictures and seeing new country. We spent the summer in Kashmir and Ladak and I enjoyed the trip so much that I helped organize an even longer expedition for the summer of 1913. We again rode bicycles to the Kashmir Valley and again hiked to Leh, the capital of Ladak. Instead of returning to Kashmir we turned east from Leh, crossed the Rupshu plains and entered Lahul by the Baralacha Pass; left Lahul by the Rotang La, visited Kulu and then walked further east to Simla and returned home from there by train."

Personal life[edit]

Ralph Stewart married Isabelle Caroline Darrow (d. 1953) in 1916; they had two daughters Jean Macmillan Stewart Andrews (1919–1970), born at Sialkot, and Ellen Reid Stewart Daniels (1921–1998), born at Jhelum, and 6 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren. In 1954 he married Winifred Hladia Porter (1896–1984). He died in 1993 in Duarte, California.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ali, S.I.; A. Ghaffar (1994). "DR. R. R. STEWART (1890-1993)". Pakistan Botanical Society. Retrieved 2008-05-09. 
  2. ^ "University of Michigan Herbarium". 
  3. ^ "Author Query for 'R.R.Stewart'". International Plant Names Index. 

External links[edit]