|Ferdinand Jakob Heinrich Mueller, in his role as President of the Royal Society of Victoria.|
Photo courtesy of Encyclopaedia of Australian Science.
He also explored the Tasmanian highlands, and for two years from 1855, when economic depression caused the retrenchment of many Victorian public servants, he took leave of absence and joined Augustus Gregory's highly significant North Australian Exploring Expedition, which covered much of the tropical north. In the process he collected 800 new plant species. On his return in 1857, he also became Director of the Melbourne Botanic Gardens. Under him the National Herbarium in Melbourne, which he had built, became the centre of Australian botanical studies; in 11 years it increased from 45,000 specimens (mostly his own, which he contributed) to 350,000. His duties also, strangely, included responsibility for the Zoological Society's animals. In 1873 he had to give up the Gardens because influential citizens wanted a 'pretty' gardens, not one arranged scientifically according to plant families, and the government, extraordinarily, dismissed him. This remained a distress to him for the rest of his life, though he retained the position of government botanist.
He was made first president of Victoria's Royal Society, and was very involved in the Acclimatisation Society, now regarded as a pernicious introducer of exotic species. He first introduced Monterey Pine Pinus radiata (now by far the chief softwood plantation species in Australia) and, reputedly at least, spread blackberry on his travels, partly as a source of nutrition for gold miners! With the chemist Joseph Bosisto he experimented on the distillation of essential oils. He also propounded the conservation of forests, though primarily for timber extraction. He helped to organise the Victorian Exploring Expedition (the notoriously doomed Burke and Wills Expedition, though most of its misfortune was of its own making, not that of its organisers), the search for the missing explorer Ludwig Leichhardt, the foundation of the Royal Geographic Society of Australasia, and the scientific exploration of both Antarctica and New Guinea. He was a truly remarkable and dynamic man.
|Poison Morning Glory Ipomoea muelleri Family Convulvulaceae, Windorah, south-west Queensland.|
Found across much of northern and inland Australia, this scrambler was also named by Bentham
to honour his collaborator.
|Yellow Stringybark Eucalyptus muelleriana, Kangaroo Valley, New South Wales.|
Named by English-born Alfred Howitt in 1891; Howitt was a very impressive self-taught bushman
and explorer, naturalist and anthropologist.
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