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Dr John Dawson

DR JOHN DAWSON (1928–2019) was Associate Professor of Botany at Victoria University until his retirement in 1988. John devoted much of the last 30 years to research, writing botanical papers and books, and enthusiastically sharing his botanical knowledge through public outreach. John ran many adult education courses on New Zealand native plants and, until his recent illness, guided countless groups around Otari Native Botanic Garden in Wellington. He was passionate about the New Zealand flora, especially Metrosideros, the Apiaceae genera, and the native vascular plant species of trees, climbers and epiphytes and their biogeography and ecology. John was the author of many scholarly papers on aspects of the New Zealand flora, and authored several books, including Forest Vines to Snow Tussocks: The story of New Zealand plants (1988) and Seasons in the Forest (with photographs by Brian Enting, 1990). John also undertook research in New Caledonia on Myrtaceae, its largest family, and in two substantial papers he formally described about a quarter of the c. 250 species there. John’s work in botany has been widely recognised. He was a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London (FLS), and in 2016 he was awarded Landcare Research’s Allan Mere, a prestigious award to botanists who have made an outstanding contribution to New Zealand botany.

John Dawson and Rob Lucas are co-authors of the award-winning Nature Guide to the New Zealand Forest (2000), Lifestyles of New Zealand Forest Plants (1993), Lifestyles of New Zealand Coast and Mountain Plants (1996) and the Nature of Plants: Habitats, challenges and adaptations (2005).