Who Was EK Janaki Ammal? Find Details Of The ‘Nomad’ Flower Scientist

EK Janaki Ammal is an Indian botanist focused on phytogeography, cytogenetics, and plant breeding. Her research on sugarcane and eggplant was among her most notable contributions.

Together with C.D. Darlington, she co-wrote the Chromosome Atlas of Cultivated Plants (1945), a book on the cytogenetics of various plants.

She became interested in ethnobotany and medicinal and commercial plants in Kerala, India’s rain forests. In 1977, she received the Padma Shri honor from India’s then-prime minister.

Who Was EK Janaki Ammal? Find Details Of The 'Nomad' Flower Scientist
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Who Was EK Janaki Ammal? Her Biography

EK Janaki Ammal was an Indian botanist who worked on plant breeding, cytogenetics, and phytogeography.

A sub-judge named Diwan Bahadur Edavalath Kakkat Krishnan was her father. Her mother, Devi Kuruvayi, was the child of Kunhi Kurumbi Kuruvai and John Child Hannyngton, a colonial administrator and resident in Travancore.

Thus, Janaki Ammal’s mother was the half-sister of Frank Hannyngton, an entomologist who worked for the Indian government.

Janaki went to elementary school at the Sacred Heart Convent in Thalassery before moving to Queen Mary’s College in Madras.

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She earned a botany degree with honors from Presidency College. After transferring to the University of Michigan in 1924 and receiving a Barbour Scholarship, she eventually graduated with a master’s degree in the field in 1926.

After teaching at the Women’s Christian College in Madras, India, she returned to the University of Michigan as an Oriental Barbour Fellow and earned her Ph.D. there in 1931.

“Chromosome Studies in Nicandra Physaloides” was the title of her thesis. The university also gave her an honorary LLD in 1956.

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Details Of The ‘Nomad’ Flower Scientist

At Wisley, the magnolias start to bloom in March. Rows of pink flowers will cover the small town in Surrey for the ensuing few weeks, luring onlookers to stop and take a whiff.

Few people are aware, though, that many of these flowers have roots in India. Scientist EK Janaki Ammal, born in Kerala in southern India in the nineteenth century, planted them.

During her nearly 60-year career, Janaki studied many kinds of flowering plants and changed the way scientists name several plant families.

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According to Dr. Savithri Preetha Nair, a historian who has spent years studying the scientist’s life, Janaki was more than just a cytogeneticist.

In addition, she was a field biologist, a plant geographer, a palaeobotanist, an experimental breeder, an ethnobotanist, and, last but not least, an explorer.

Dr. Nair says it is hard to find even one Indian male geneticist from the time who did research in such a way that took into account many different fields. She discussed biodiversity as far back as the 1930s.

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