Edward James Salisbury

Sir Edward James Salisbury CBE FRS (16 April 1886 – 10 November 1978)[1] was an English botanist and ecologist. He was born in Harpenden, Hertfordshire and graduated in botany from University College London in 1905. In 1913, he obtained a D.Sc. with a thesis on fossil seeds and was appointed a senior lecturer at East London College. He returned to University College London as a senior lecturer, from 1924 as a reader in plant ecology and from 1929 as Quain Professor of botany.


Edward James Salisbury
Born(1886-04-16)16 April 1886
Limbrick Hall, Harpenden, Hertfordshire, England
Died10 November 1978(1978-11-10) (aged 92)
Felpham, West Sussex, England
EducationUniversity College School
Alma materUniversity College London
OccupationEcologist, botanist
EmployerEast London College
Spouse(s)Mabel Elwin-Coles (1917–1956)
Parent(s)James Wright Salisbury (businessman)
Elizabeth Salisbury née Stimpson
RelativesFrank O. Salisbury (cousin)

He was director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew from 1943 to 1956.[2] He was responsible for the restoration of the gardens after the Second World War.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society on 15 March 1933 and won the society's Royal Medal in 1945 for "his notable contributions to plant ecology and to the study of the British flora generally".[3] In 1936, he was awarded The Veitch Memorial Medal of the Royal Horticultural Society in acknowledgement of his book The Living Garden (1935), which was enormously popular.[4] In 1939, he received the Commander of the Order of the British Empire and in 1946 he was knighted.

At first, his research was focussed on forest ecology, particularly in his native Hertfordshire. Later, he pioneered investigations of seed size and reproductive output of plants in relation to habitat. He also investigated the ecology of garden weeds and of dune plants.

He was elected President of the Sussex Wildlife Trust in January 1962, where he remained in office until April 1967.

Popular science booksEdit

  • The Living Garden. 1936
  • Flowers of the Woods. 1946

Scientific booksEdit

  • Durand, Théophile; Benjamin Daydon Jackson; William Turner Thiselton-Dyer; David Prain; Arthur William Hill; Edward James Salisbury (1908). Index Kewensis plantarum phanerogamarum: Supplementum Tertium Nomina et Synonyma Omnium Generum et Specierum AB Initio Anni MDCCCCI Usque AD Finem Anni MDCCCCV Complectens. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • Salisbury, E.J. (1935). The Living garden, or the how and why of garden life. London: George Bell & Sons. Unknown ID: N000193912.
  • Salisbury, E.J. (1942). The Reproductive Capacity of Plants. London: George Bell & Sons.
  • Salisbury, E.J. (1952). Downs and Dunes: their plant life and its environment. London: George Bell & Sons.
  • Salisbury, E.J. (1961). Weeds and Aliens. The New Naturalists. 43. London: Collins.
  • Salisbury, E.J. (1962). The Biology of Garden Weeds. The Royal Horticultural Society.

Selected scientific papersEdit


  1. ^ Clapham, A. R. (1980). "Edward James Salisbury. 16 April 1886 – 10 November 1978". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 26: 502–526. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1980.0014.
  2. ^ "Observing environmental change: the Sir Edward James Salisbury Archive". Nature Plus. Natural History Museum. 6 January 2014. Retrieved 12 August 2014.
  3. ^ "Royal archive winners Prior to 1900". Royal Society. Retrieved 5 July 2010.
  4. ^ Stearn, William T. (2004). "Salisbury, Sir Edward James (1886–1978)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Online Edition. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/31649. Retrieved 5 July 2010.
  5. ^ IPNI.  E.Salisb.
Academic offices
Preceded by
James Gray
Fullerian Professor of Physiology
Succeeded by
Harold Munro Fox