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About the author


‘ To grasp the idea of wanting correction and treatment for my character; not to be diverted into a taste for rhetoric, so not writing up my own speculations, delivering my own little moral sermons, or presenting a glorified picture of the ascetic or the philanthropist; to keep clear of speechifying, versifying, and pretentious language; not to walk around at home in ceremonial dress, or do anything else like that; to write letters in an unaffected style . . . ; to be readily recalled to conciliation with those who have taken or given offence, just as soon as they are willing to turn back; to read carefully, not satisfied with my own superficial thoughts or quick to accept the facile views of others . . .

Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (121–180 CE) Meditations Book 1.7, recalling his Stoic teacher Quintus Rusticus (c. 100-170 CE)[1]

I am an honorary associate botanist at the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Australia, where I worked for many years.

My experience and publications range through gardening, garden history, the history of botanic gardens and plant science, to landscape conservation, plant nomenclature and classification (horticultural botany and cultivated plant taxonomy), Flora accounts, descriptions of new species, and aspects of weed science. I have also written many popular and technical articles on various aspects of ornamental horticulture and botany.

My most popular publications are: the five-volume Horticultural Flora of South-Eastern Australia (1995-2005) which was converted in 2018 into the world’s first on-line horticultural Flora; the book Sustainable Gardens (2009) written with colleague Rob Cross which describes ways to integrate our gardens with the global environment; the book Plant Names (the fourth edition published in April 2020) which explains, in plain English, the nomenclature of both wild and cultivated plants; and a paper,  also with colleague Rob Cross, on The origins of botanic gardens and their relation to plant science . . . published in 2017.

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In spite of our total human dependency on plants, most of us go through life without realizing or acknowledging that plants are much more than food and ornaments for our parks and gardens; they are deeply embedded in our history and every aspect of our society.

I hope that, as you read the articles on this web site, you will begin to see the world differently – from a phytocentric or plant-centered perspective – as I have done for over 50 years.

So . . . what are the many and complex ways that plants impact our lives, and how can an understanding of these connections help us to become better managers of our planet and its community of life?


Read on . . .


In accordance with the manifesto at the top of this page the contents of this web site, though stated in a dogmatic way, are intended as a thought-provoking  way of encouraging readers to forge their own (world)views.

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Here is my RESEARCHGATE profile.


[1] Marcus Aurelius 2011. Meditations. Penguin: London

Roger Spencer

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