John Milton Bigelow

(1804-1878) John Bigelow was an American medical doctor and botanist. He was skilled and lucky enough to accompany the legendary Asa Gray and John Torrey on the Mexican border survey with Lieutenant A.W. Whipple. Other now famous botanists George Thurber and Charles Parry also were hired by Gray and Torrey, although Parry and Bigelow performed most of the actual collecting. 

He later joined the Pacific Railroad Expedition that journeyed through Mojave Desert along with other expeditions to Northern California and elsewhere. He collected and discovered several new genera and over sixty hitherto undescribed species. Bigelow and botanist George Engelmann collected a massive quantity of cactus specimens.

Bigelow was an enthusiastic amateur botanist. In 1841 he published Florula Lancastriensis, which was a list of plants in his area and included medical notes on the plants, due to his training as a doctor.
In 1850, he joined Mexican Boundary Survey as surgeon which was led by Lieutenant A.W. Whipple. This now-famous exploratory expedition was immediately recognized by eminent botanists John Torrey and Asa Gray as a chance to collect from this little-studied region. Three botanists were added to the expedition by Torrey and Gray, anmed C.C. Parry, Charles Wright, and George Thurber. Although Bigelow was not a botanist by trade, he and Parry did most of the collecting.

After the expedition finally reached San Diego, Bigelow continued to explore north in California and was one of the only botanists to see Sequoiadendron giganteum in the field.

Not long later, Lt. Whipple was commissioned to conduct the Pacific Railroad Expedition, which went from ARkansas to Southern California through the Mojave Desert.

Associated Plants