Dr J.S. Beard

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John Stanley Beard (1916 – 17 February 2011) was a British-born forester and ecologist who resided in Australia.[1]

Dr Beard was passionate about WA Plants and for 50 years of his life surverying, promoting, studing them. Dr Beard was the foundation Director (1961) of the Botanic Garden being established in Perth’s King’s Park. He promoted the study of hoticulture of native plants, conducted extensive field studies across the state completeing several vegetation maps and author of several books specific to plant life of WA plants. [2] [3] [4]

Understanding the structure and floristic communities allow horticulture science to cultivate and propagate the unique flora of Western Australia and introduce them into landscape and gardens successfully. Dr Beard saw and understood the importance of this work for generations to come.

It was a meeting in 1961 with Eileen J Croxford when Dr Beard arrived at Albany Airport (Western Australia) where Eileen lived that she asked for assistance to help with botanical names that lines the airport runways and surrounding bushland. He said, "Eileen you must not stop doing this - there are no plans in this government to do any research into the Albany region until 1995. Because you are so interested in wildflowers, how about you convene a meeting to form an Albany branch of the West Australian Wildflower Society". [5] This encouragement and ongoing support for Eileen to put 3 generation on women on a path of exploration, cultivation, horticulture and community building on West Australian Plants.

Early Days

John Stanley Beard was educated at Marlborough College, England. Beard studied at the University of Oxford where he obtained the Bachelor of Arts degree in 1937 at the School of Forestry, and doctoral thesis on tropical forestry ecology in the West Indies. His earlier activities include such a wide range as being a member of the Oxford University Expedition to Greenland in 1936. In the period 1937‐1947 he held forestry positions in the British Colonial Service in Trinidad and in the Windward and Leeward Islands. While working with the Forestry Division in Trinidad and Tobago during the 1940s, Beard developed a system of forest classification for Tropical America and described the forests of Trinidad, Tobago, these descriptions remain standard references on the topics today. In 1945 Dr Beard lead his own botanical expedition to the Guiana Plateau, Venezuela. This was followed in 1947‐1961 as Estates Research Officer to the Natal Tanning and Extract Co. Ltd, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, when he worked on crop improvement in the wattle industry. He also ventrued to Japan in 1966 doing advisory work. His notable work in this field led to his name becoming widely known throughout the world.[6]

His extensive surveys of Western Australia set standards for understanding regional floristic zones and biogeographical areas for the whole state. He was the main author of the 1964–1981 explanatory notes to the mapping project of the Vegetation Survey of Western Australia. He was also foundation Director of the Kings Park and Botanic Garden between 1961 and 1970. The garden, officially opened in 1965, has become one of Perth’s major attractions for visitors and the local population. Dr Beard rapidly became one of the leading botanists with expertise in the State’s plants and edited the Descriptive Catalogue of Western Australian Plants (1965) published by the Society for Growing Australian Plants which was to promote understanding of the horticultural requirements of Western Australia’s native plants. He was subsequently director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney (1970–72). During his directorship at the botanic gardens, many of Western Australia’s unique native plants were brought into cultivation for the first time. [7]


Dr Beard retired in Perth in 1973 where he was a private research worker, consultant, publisher and is an Honorary Associate of the Department of Geography of the University of WA, working on a phytogeographic survey of the State. About 200,000 km were covered by vehicle in 17 years. As a result Dr Beard acquired an unrivalled knowledge of the landscapes and their plant cover over the whole immense area of Western Australia. [8], [9]

Beard received an OAM in 2003. He died in February 2011 at the age of 95

WA Plant Writings

Establishing the wonders of WA flora and their location across the West Australia and how to connect the community to the states flora was a passion of Dr Beard. This is recorded throughout his writings in the West Australian Gardener, books he authored or contributed to on the plant life on Western Australia and written more than 75 scientific papers.

Year Title Author
1984 Kwongan Plant Life of the Sandplain - Biology of a South-West Australian shurbland Ecosystem J.S.Pate and J.S. Beard
1990 Plant Life of Western Australia J.S. Beard edited by A.S. George and N. Gibson
1965 Descriptive Catalogue of Western Australian Plants J.S. Beard


  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Stanley_Beard
  2. Pate & Beard Editors. 1984. Kwongan Plant Life of the Sandplain - Biology of a South-West Australian shurbland Ecosystem. Author backgrond on the back cover
  3. J.S. Beard edited by A.S. George and N. Gibson. 1990. Plant Life of Western Australia
  4. The West Australian Garden magazine 1969-1970
  5. https://www.anbg.gov.au/biography/croxford-eileen.html
  6. www.anbg.gov.au/biography/beard
  7. www.anbg.gov.au/biography/beard
  8. Dixon, Kingsley W. (2006) Celebration of a life in botany. (Summary: John Stanley Beard was a pioneer in cataloguing plant communities, known as "vegetation mapping", which resulted in the Vegetation Survey of Western Australia, completed in 1981, and involving road traverses totalling some 150,000 km. -- a record for an area mapped in this way by one person. Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia vol. 89, pt. 3, (Sept. 2006), p. 93-97
  9. State Library of WA, J S Battye Library of West Australia History Collection