Author: Nesta Dunn Ewan


John Banister (1649 or 1650–1692)

John Banister was a naturalist and Anglican minister in the Virginia colony. Born in England, he became interested in North American plants while studying at the University of Oxford. After arriving in Virginia in 1679, he took charge of Bristol Parish, near the mouth of the Appomattox River. Exploring as far west as the Virginia foothills, Banister collected specimens of the colony’s flora and fauna, many of which he sent back to England. He was not able to complete his own comprehensive natural history of Virginia, but his numerous lists, notes, and drawings were used by European naturalists in their published works on North American plants and animals. Other naturalists named plants for Banister, and William Houstoun gave the name Banisteria to a class of tropical and subtropical viny plants. In his Species Plantanum (1753), Carolus Linnaeus cited species and specimens that Banister had procured and described. While on a collecting expedition Banister was accidentally killed by one of his traveling companions sometime between May 12 and May 16, 1692.

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