William Aiton (1731 – 2 February 1793) was a Scottish botanist.[1]

William Aiton
Hamilton, Scotland
Died2 February 1793(1793-02-02) (aged 61–62)
Kew, England
Resting placeSt. Anne's Church, Kew, England
Known forDirector of Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
ChildrenWilliam Townsend Aiton
Scientific career
Author abbrev. (botany)Aiton
The Aiton family tomb

Aiton was born near Hamilton. Having been regularly trained to the profession of a gardener, he travelled to London in 1754, and became assistant to Philip Miller, then superintendent of the Chelsea Physic Garden. In 1759 he was appointed director of the newly established botanical garden at Kew, where he remained until his death. He effected many improvements at the gardens, and in 1789 he published Hortus Kewensis, a catalogue of the plants cultivated there.[2][3] He is buried at nearby St. Anne's Church, Kew.

A second and enlarged edition of the Hortus was brought out in 1810–1813 by his eldest son, William Townsend Aiton.[2]

Aiton is commemorated in the specific epithet aitonis.[4]

In 1789, he classified the Sampaguita plant to the Jasminium genus and also named it as Arabian Jasmine because it was believed that the plant originated from The Arabian Peninsula[5] although the plant didn't originate from Arabia.

Selected publications

  • Aiton, W. (1789). Hortus Kewensis. London: George Nicol.


  1. ^ "William Aiton from The Gazetteer for Scotland". www.scottish-places.info.
  2. ^ a b   One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Aiton, William". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 448.
  3. ^ Aiton 1789.
  4. ^ Eggli, Urs; Newton, Leonard E. (2004). Etymological Dictionary of Succulent Plant Names. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer. p. 4. ISBN 978-3-540-00489-9. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  5. ^ "Study of the Sampaguita Flower - The National Pride of Philippines". Gardenerdy. 9 March 2009. Retrieved 25 March 2021.
  6. ^ International Plant Names Index.  Aiton.



Further reading