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Ghillean Prance

Ghillean T. Prance
Born (1937-07-13) July 13, 1937 [1]
Brandeston, Suffolk, England[1]
Nationality British
Fields Botany
Institutions New York Botanical Garden (1963–1988)[1]
Known for Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (1988–1999)[2]
Notable awards Linnean Medal (1990)
International Cosmos Prize (1993)
Fellow of the Royal Society[2]

Sir Ghillean Tolmie Prance  FIBiol FRS FLS FRS (born 13 July 1937) is a prominent British botanist and ecologist[3] who has published extensively[4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15] on the taxonomy of families such as Chrysobalanaceae and Lecythidaceae, but drew particular attention in documenting the pollination ecology of Victoria amazonica.[16][17] Prance is a former Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.[2]


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
  • Current work 3
  • Honours 4
  • Legacy 5
  • Video 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Early life

Prance was born on 13 July 1937 in Brandeston, Suffolk, England.[1] He was educated at Malvern College and Keble College, Oxford.[18] In 1963 he received a D. Phil. in Forest Botany from the Commonwealth Forestry Institute.[1]


Prance worked from 1963 at The New York Botanical Garden, initially as a research assistant and, on his departure in 1988, as Director of the Institute of Economic Botany and Senior Vice-President for Science.[1] Much of his career at the New York Botanical Garden was spent conducting extensive fieldwork in the Amazon region of Brazil.[1] He was Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew from 1988 to 1999.[2]

Current work

Since his retirement he has remained very active, notably involving himself with the Eden Project. Prance, a devout Christian, is currently the chair of A Rocha[19] and was president of Christians in Science 2002–08.[20]

He is actively involved on environmental issues, a trustee of the Amazon Charitable Trust,[18] and a Vice-President of the Nature in Art Trust.[21]


Prance was knighted in 1995. He has been a Fellow of the Linnean Society since 1961, a Fellow of the Royal Society since 1993 and was awarded the Victoria Medal of Honour in 1999.[2] He was awarded the Patron's Gold Medal of the Royal Geographical Society in 1994.[22]

In 2000 he was made a Commander of the Order of the Southern Cross by the President of Brazil.[18] In 2012 he was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays and Neck Ribbon by the Government of Japan.[23]


Two photographic portraits of Prance are held at the National Portrait Gallery, London.[24]

A biography of Prance was written by Clive Langmead.[3]


  • A Passion for Plants (DVD), Christian Television Association (of the UK)


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Sinon, Stephen (August 2000). "Records of the Herbarium (RG4) GHILLEAN T. PRANCE RECORDS (1963–1988)". Archives and Manuscript Collections.  
  2. ^ a b c d e "Ghillean Prance (1937–)". Kew, History & Heritage.  
  3. ^ a b Langmead, Clive (2001). A Passion for Plants: Life and Vision of Ghillean Prance, Director of Kew Gardens. Kew: Royal Botanic Gardens.  
  4. ^ Bebber, D. P.; Carine, M. A.; Wood, J. R. I.; Wortley, A. H.; Harris, D. J.; Prance, G. T.; Davidse, G.; Paige, J.; Pennington, T. D.; Robson, N. K. B.; Scotland, R. W. (2010). "Herbaria are a major frontier for species discovery". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107 (51): 22169–22171.  
  5. ^ Prance, G. T. (2002). "Species survival and carbon retention in commercially exploited tropical rainforest". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 360 (1797): 1777–1785.  
  6. ^ Brown, S.; Swingland, I. R.; Hanbury-Tenison, R.; Prance, G. T.; Myers, N. (2002). "Changes in the use and management of forests for abating carbon emissions: Issues and challenges under the Kyoto Protocol". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 360 (1797): 1593–1605.  
  7. ^ Prance, G. T. (2000). "Ethnobotany and the future of conservation". Biologist (London, England) 47 (2): 65–68.  
  8. ^ Prance, G. (1999). "The poisons and narcotics of the Amazonian Indians". Journal of the Royal College of Physicians of London 33 (4): 368–376.  
  9. ^ Morton, C.; Mori, S.; Prance, G.; Karol, K.; Chase, M. (1997). "Phylogenetic relationships of Lecythidaceae: A cladistic analysis using rbcL sequence and morphological data". American journal of botany 84 (4): 530–540.  
  10. ^ Dalton, H.; Goodwin, B.; Ho, M. W.; McGlade, J.; Prance, G.; Saunders, P.; Sherratt, D.; Smith, J. M.; Whittenbury, R. (1997). "Patent threat to research". Nature 385 (6618): 672.  
  11. ^ Prance, G. T. (1991). "What is ethnobotany today?". Journal of Ethnopharmacology 32 (1–3): 209–216.  
  12. ^ Prance, G. T. (1982). "Threatened Plants". Science 216 (4549): 977–978.  
  13. ^ Mori, S. A.; Orchard, J. E.; Prance, G. T. (1980). "Intrafloral Pollen Differentiation in the New World Lecythidaceae, Subfamily Lecythidoideae". Science 209 (4454): 400–403.  
  14. ^ Fidalgo, O.; Prance, G. T. (1976). "The ethnomycology of the Sanama Indians". Mycologia 68 (1): 201–210.  
  15. ^ Prance, G. T. (1973). "The mycological diet of the Yanomam Indians". Mycologia 65 (1): 248–250.  
  16. ^ Prance, Anne E.; Sandved, Kjell Bloch;Prance, Ghillean T. (1993). Bark: the formation, characteristics, and uses of bark around the world. Portland, Or: Timber Press.  
  17. ^ Sandved, Kjell Bloch; Prance, Ghillean T. (1985). Leaves, the formation, characteristics, and uses of hundreds of leaves found in all parts of the world. [New York]: Crown.  
  18. ^ a b c "Professor Sir Ghillean Prance". Trustees. Amazon Charitable Trust. Retrieved 25 February 2014. 
  19. ^ "International Trustees". A Rocha. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  20. ^ "Presidents". Christians in Science. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  21. ^ "Nature in Art – Trust". Nature in Art Trust. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  22. ^ "List of Past Gold Medal Winners" (PDF). Royal Geographical Society. Retrieved 24 August 2015. 
  23. ^
  24. ^ "Sir Ghillean Tolmie Prance (1937–), Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens". Collections.  
  25. ^ "'"Author Query for 'Prance.  

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