Botanist enriches Turkey's flora

Botanist enriches Turkey's flora

Botanist enriches Turkeys flora

Asuman Baytop, a leading Turkish expert on botany and botanical history who provided a significant contribution to the country's flora with her discoveries, was commemorated on Feb. 19 on the 6th anniversary of her demise.

Baytop was born on Mar. 27, 1920, as the third daughter of Meliha Berk and Mehmet Kamil. Mehmet Kamil was one of the doctors of Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, according to information compiled by Anadolu Agency correspondent.

Entering Istanbul University's Pharmaceutical Botany and Genetics Institute as an assistant in September 1943, Baytop worked in general botany, pharmaceutical botany, and pharmacognosy courses and laboratories as an assistant of Alfred Heilbronn, a German-Turkish botanist, who is seen as the founder of modern botany in Turkey.

She completed her doctorate in Zurich, in Pharmacognosy at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, and received title of Doctor of Natural Sciences in 1949.

Baytop was appointed as the director of the Pharmaceutical Botany Chair established at the university in 1964. She launched the Faculty of Pharmacy Herbarium at Istanbul University and managed it until her retirement.

Plant collections from Switzerland to Anatolia

Baytop, who started her botanic trips in 1940-1941 when she was a student, collected plants from Istanbul, Thrace and Anatolia.

She also collected plant samples in Zurich, where she went for her doctorate studies, created her first private plant collection in Switzerland between 1947-1949.

Returning Turkey from Switzerland with a collection that included 601 plant samples, Baytop later presented her collection to the Chair of Pharmaceutical Botany herbaria.

Referred as "tireless plant collector" by her daughter, she organized 50 plant-picking trips to the Thrace region, 25 to the Marmara region (excluding Istanbul), and 75 to different regions in Anatolia.

Thanks to her plant-collecting trips, more than 23,000 plant samples were brought to the herbarium.

Baytop brought 13 plant species in total, including three subspecies, to Turkey's flora, thanks to her collecting trips across the country.

For her contribution to Turkey's flora and science, she was decorated with the "Service Award" by the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK) in 1999.

Nearly 200 scientific publications

Paying great attention to students' access to comprehensive and accurate textbooks, Baytop wrote various textbooks for students of the pharmacy faculty, including Anatomical Structure of Herbal Drugs, Pharmaceutical Botany, and English-Turkish Botanical Guide.

Collecting her works on botanical history in the book titled History of Botanical Studies in Turkey, she also directed 8 doctoral theses.

Baytop, who had nearly 200 scientific publications, wrote her first article in 1943.

Turkish Journal of Botany, Folia Pharmaceutica, Curtis's Botanical Magazine and Acta Pharmaceutica Sciencia are among some journals that her articles were published on.

Even after she retired in 1987 and last collecting trip in 1990, she kept working on her scientific studies on Turkey's flora.

'Rosa Asuman'

For her contributions, her name was given to plants "Allium Baytopiorum", "Apera Baytopiana", "Asphodeline Baytopae", "Astracantha Baytopiana", "Cirsium Baytopae", "Colchicum Baytopiorum", "Crocus Asumaniae", "Crocus Baytopiorum", "Galium Baytopianum", "Gypsophila Baytopiorum", "Stachys Baytopiorum" and "Tripleurospermum Baytopianum".

Also, a white-flowered kind of Rosa Beggeriana, a type of rose, was named "Rosa Asuman" by botanists Kit Tan and Jerzy Zielinski in 2010.

On Feb. 18, 2015, she passed away in Istanbul at the age of 94.

Following her death, a new Fritillaria species in the Mediterranean region of Turkey was named "Fritillaria Asumania" after her.