George Samuel Jenman (1845–1902)

Kew gardener, 1871. Superintendent, Castleton Gardens, Jamaica, 1873. Government botanist and superintendent, British Guiana, 1879. Assisted in the development of sugar cane as a commercial crop.

b. near Plymouth, Devon, 24 August 1845;
d. Georgetown, Demerara, British Guiana, 28 February 1902

His early years were spent in the south of Ireland. He received his early training in horticulture in nurseries near Plymouth, before entering the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in 1871.  He was promoted to foreman of the herbaceous department before, in 1873, being appointed Superintendent of the Castleton Gardens, Jamaica.

Jenman was then appointed Government Botanist and Superintendent of the Botanic Garden of British Guiana in 1879, converting the area from a virtual wasteland into a fine botanic garden. He experimented widely with tropical plants, but came to be best known for his experiments on seedlings of sugar cane. Working at first on his own, and later with Professor Harrison and the Government Chemist, he carried out a long series of experiments which made them household names with regards to the cultivation of sugarcane.

He discovered and named a number of tropical plants, studied zoology and natural history, and wrote articles for the local press as well as papers for scientific journals, e.g. on the ferns and fern-allies of Jamaica. He was a Fellow of the Linnean Society. He is commemorated in the genus Jenmania, now Palmorchis (Orchidaceae).

The archives at Kew hold many letters between Jenman and senior staff at Kew. His plant specimens are held mainly at the New York Botanical Garden and at Kew.


Anonymous (1902), In Memoriam, George Samuel Jenman, Journal of the Kew Guild. 2 (10): 92–93.

Desmond, R. (1994), Dictionary of British and Irish Botanists and Horticulturists, Taylor & Francis & The Natural History Museum, London, p. 383.

The Demerara Argosy, March 1, 1902.

Stafleu, F.A. & Cowan, R.S. (1979), Taxonomic Literature (2nd edn) 2: 436–437.