write botany’s analogue to Mayr’s Systematics and the Origin of the Species and to publish it jointly with Mayr’s book. Anderson did not fulfill the task, and Stebbins was thereafter invited to deliver the Jesup Lectures in 1947. Variation and Evolution in Plants, the outgrowth of the lectures, is the most important book on plant evolution of the twentieth century.
Stebbins’s scientific contributions comprise botany, genetics, and evolution (Solbrig, 1979). His research was mostly done in the field, with laboratory work focused on cytological and genetic investigation of collected plant specimens, seeking, for example, to determine the number of chromosomes or whether hybridization had occurred. In the 1970s and 1980s he became much interested in the interaction between plant development processes and their evolution. His discoveries in this area were modest, but his vision was not: By the early 1990s “evo/devo,” as this research subject has come to be known, had become one of the most active and productive areas of evolutionary research. Stebbins was an accomplished synthesizer of biological knowledge (Smocovitis, 1997). Throughout the decades he wrote numerous review articles. He was considered a master of this genre (Crawford and Smocovitis, 2004). Stebbins was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1952. George Ledyard Stebbins, Jr., was born on January 6, 1906, named after his father, although he preferred to be called Ledyard and dropped the “junior” from his name after his father died. He wrote about his early years:
My home background was upper middle class white protestant in New York and New England. My Father was a reasonably prosperous produce merchant and real estate owner and agent. He ran the Seal Harbor (Maine) Realty Co. for 30 years (1899-1929) and was largely responsible for the development of that summer resort on Mt. Desert Island. He also played an important role in setting aside the land that later became Acadia National Park. For