Ida Hayward

The first ‘big’ work on non-native plants!

contributed by Eric LoPresti @Saab95adventure 



Agriculture, Conservation, Ecology, Environmental change, Europe, Field, Forest, Fundamental research, Grassland, Historical figure, Lab, Natural history, Observational, Plants, Restoration, Terrestrial, Woman



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Other Resources


The adventive flora of Tweedside (Arbroath : T. Buncle & co., 1919)


Presentation Notes

Researcher’s Background

Ida Hayward was a pioneering botanist in the field of non-native plants; she made her life’s work the study of plants brought to the Scottish countryside from other countries, mostly during the importation of wool. 


Biography in brief

Hayward’s family was involved in the wool industry, hence her interests. Apparently, an uncle mentioned the quantity of seeds brought in and this piqued her interest in alien plants, an interest which she held for her long and illustrious career. She was a fellow of the Linnean Society, a high honor for scientists in her day, and her book received warm reviews, like this one in the journal Nature: “The usual lists and records of alien plants are not particularly inviting to the botanist generally…. the present book… treats the whole subject on a high plane, and brings out many important general conclusions.” She lived from 1872-1849 and her collections of thousands of plant specimens from her life’s work reside at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh. Unfortunately, I am unable to locate a photo of her. 


Axes of identity & underrepresentation

Ida was a prestigious woman scientist in the late 1800’s to midcentury 1900’s. It is unclear if her work is or was under-valued due to her identity. Her work should be taught alongside Charles Elton’s work on non-native species.


Research Overview

Take home message of study

Hayward found that the wool industry was moving plants around the globe; she recorded species from Australia, New Zealand, North America, and Africa in this little patch of Scotland! This work was seminal in thinking about non-native plants and movement and continues to be cited to this day!


Study system

This rare species of mustard [figure on the left] was discovered in 1910 by Ida Hayward near the wool processing facilities; she and colleagues correctly deduced that it was Australian based on where wool was coming from and the knowledge of this group of plants – however, at the time of discovery, it had never been found in Australia! It was not seen alive in Australia until 1961, though others found it at a wool mill in Switzerland first. It has since died out in Europe and is very rare in Australia and New Zealand, with fewer than ten populations known in the world.

Key Research Points

Main contributions/Key Figure

This landscape [figure on the right] is a photo of the Tweed and Gala rivers, which brought the seeds from the wool processing mills far afield. Hayward collected heavily along the riverbanks for decades, finding plant species new to the British Isles (and even to science!) each year. 


Societal Relevance
Invasive species cost the world billions of dollars a year, though most non-native species are not destructive. This work, and her insightful inferences about methods of introduction, was one of the first to detail human-assisted intercontinental movements of huge numbers of seeds.


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