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Charles Bessey

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Subject: Frederic Clements, Henry A. Gleason (botanist)
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Charles Bessey

"Charles Bessey" redirects here. For the American soldier and Medal of Honor recipient, see Charles A. Bessey.
Charles Edwin Bessey
Charles Edwin Bessey
Born 1 May 1845
Milton, Ohio
Died 25 February 1915
Nationality American
Fields botanist
Institutions Iowa Agricultural College
Alma mater Michigan Agricultural College
Doctoral advisor Asa Gray
Known for Bessey system
Notable awards Nebraska Hall of Fame
Author abbreviation (botany) Bessey

Charles Edwin Bessey (1845–1915) was an American botanist.


He was born at Milton, Wayne County, Ohio. He graduated in 1869 at the Michigan Agricultural College. Bessey also studied at Harvard University under Asa Gray, in 1872 and in 1875–76. He was professor of botany at the Iowa Agricultural College, today known as Iowa State University from 1870 to 1884. In 1884, he was appointed professor of botany at the University of Nebraska and became head dean there in 1909. He also served as Chancellor of the University of Nebraska from 1888 to 1891 and again from 1899 to 1900.[1] He served as president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1911.


  • The Geography of Iowa (Cincinnati, 1878)
  • Botany for High Schools and Colleges (New York, 1880)
  • revision of McNab's Botany (1881)
  • The Essentials of Botany (1884)
  • Elementary Botany (1904)
  • Plant Migration Studies (1905)
  • Synopsis of Plant Phyla (1907)
  • Outlines of Plant Phyla (1909)
  • written with others, New Elementary Agriculture (ninth edition, 1911)


His arrangement of flowering plants taxa, with focus on the evolutionary divergence of primitive forms, is considered by many as the system most likely to form the basis of a modern, comprehensive taxonomy of the plant kingdom.

In 1967, Iowa State University built a Plant Industry Building, which was named after Bessey. Today the building is used by departments in the biological sciences.

In 2009 he was inducted to the Nebraska Hall of Fame.


Bessey's son, Ernst Bessey was Professor of Mycology and Botany at Michigan State University.

See also

Further reading

  • Overfield, Richard A. Science With Practice: Charles E. Bessey and the Maturing of American Botany. Iowa State University Press Series in the History of Technology and Science. Iowa State Press, 1993. (ISBN 0-8138-1822-2)
  • Pool, Raymond J. . Botanical Society of America, 1915.
  • Tobey, Ronald C. 1981. Saving the Prairies: The Life Cycle of the Founding School of American Plant Ecology, 1895-1955. Berkeley: University of California Press. (ISBN 0-5200-4352-9)
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External links

  • Iowa State University Library. Retrieved on July 10, 2009.
  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Retrieved on October 13, 2009.

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