Joseph Henry Maiden (1859 - 1925)

Joseph Henry Maiden (1859-1925) was an important colonial botanist who made a major contribution to knowledge of the Australian flora. He studied at the University of London, but due to ill health did not complete the course. As part of his treatment he was advised to take a long sea voyage, and so in 1880 sailed for Sydney.

Soon after his arrival he was appointed the first curator of the Technological Museum in Sydney, remaining there until 1896. In 1890 he was appointed consulting botanist to the Department of Agriculture and in 1894 was made Superintendent of Technical Education. In 1892 he published a Bibliography of Australian Economic Botany. In 1896, Maiden was appointed Government Botanist and Director of the Botanic Gardens, succeeding Charles Moore, who had been one of his botanical mentors. He immediately set about establishing the colony’s first herbarium, as well as a museum, library and Sydney’s first playground. Maiden published numerous books on Australian botany and became the recognised authority on Acacia and Eucalyptus. Additionally he published about 45 papers, and his eight-volume A Critical Revision of the Genus Eucalyptus remained a major reference for over fifty years.

Maiden was a pioneering botanist and had many interests including; reducing sand erosion, promoting wattle cultivation for the tanning industry, and control (or utilisation) of prickly pear. He served as secretary of the (Royal) Geographical Society of Australasia, lectured in agricultural botany and forestry at the University of Sydney. He was an active office-bearer in the Royal and Linnean Societies of New South Wales, the (Royal) Australian Historical Society, the Wattle Day League, the Horticultural Society and Horticultural Association, the Field Naturalists’ Society, the Town Planning Association of New South Wales, and the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science.

Maiden retired in 1924, and died the following year.

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