Coffee Break: “The Forgotten Botanist”

On Sept. 1, 2022, Sky Island Alliance hosted an exciting conversation with independent scholar, editor, poet, and author Wynne Brown, who shared details from Sara Plummer Lemmon’s life and work, with an emphasis on Sky Island plants. Check out this recording to learn more about this fascinating but unsung figure in our history.

In late 2021, Wynne’s book “The Forgotten Botanist” was published. Since then it has received several prizes, including the 2022 Spur Award and the 2022 Top Pick in Southwest Books of the Year.

“The Forgotten Botanist” is the account of an extraordinary woman who, in 1870, was driven by ill health to leave the East Coast for a new life in the West — alone. At 33, Sara Plummer relocated to Santa Barbara, where she taught herself botany and established the town’s first library. Ten years later she married botanist John Gill Lemmon, and together the two discovered hundreds of new plant species, many of them illustrated by Sara, an accomplished artist. Although she became an acknowledged botanical expert and lecturer, Sara’s considerable contributions to scientific knowledge were credited merely as “J.G. Lemmon & wife.”


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