IN MEMORIAM.

David Richard Hunt 1938-2019

The members of the Executive Board of the International Organization for Succulent Plant Studies are sorry to announce the loss of our friend and colleague David R. Hunt. David will always be remembered for being a distinguished member of our community, for his leadership in the area of cactus systematics and for being a great promoter of succulent plant studies, among many other things. David’s professional life cannot be separated from IOS. For decades, he used to voluntarily devote a considerable part of his time to stimulate the activities of IOS, always with the idea of fulfilling the central purpose of our organization: promoting the study and conservation of succulent plants of the world. We express our sincere sympathy to his wife, Margaret Phillips, and to his friends and colleagues for the loss of this extraordinary man.

Dr. Hunt

The members of the Executive Board of the International Organization for Succulent Plant Studies, 2019

Dr. David Richard Hunt (1938–2019).

David Hunt first appeared on the succulent plant scene by contributing to early meetings of the Mammillaria Society when he was studying botany at Cambridge University. In Cambridge he was a member of Gonville and Caius College, whose coat of arms includes a succulent plant, Sempervivum tectorum. He graduated in 1959, and in 1961 he joined the herbarium staff at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. His research included fieldwork in North, Central and South America. In addition to the Cactaceae, his other botanical interests included conifers (Pinaceae), and also the Tradescantieae (Commelinaceae), on which he wrote a thesis for his PhD degree, awarded by Reading University in 1983. At Kew he was the editor of Curtis’s Botanical Magazine from 1968 to 1982. Outside Kew he served on committees of the Cornwall Gardens Trust, the International Dendrology Society, and the Royal Horticultural Society. He retired from Kew in 1994. David joined the IOS in 1965, and served as secretary from 1985 to 1994, and again from 2007 until he passed away. He was also the President of the Mammillaria Society from 1978 to 1985. His many publications include the major reference work on the Cactaceae, The New Cactus Lexicon (2006). He was a joint editor (1976–1982) of the journal of the Cactus & Succulent Society of Great Britain, and later (1983–1992) of the journal Bradleya. In recognition of his work in the succulent plant field he was made a Fellow of the British Cactus & Succulent Society in 1983, and a Fellow of the Cactus & Succulent Society of America in 1995. For his services to the IOS he was made an honorary member in 1994, and he was awarded the Cactus d’Or in 2006. He is also commemorated in the name of a carnivorous plant, Utricularia huntii P. Taylor (1986). In addition to his botanical accomplishments, David was a musician, with a special interest in organs, harpsichords and harmoniums, and he qualified as a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists. Together with his wife Margaret Phillips, a renowned concert organist and teacher, in 1994 he established the English Organ School and Museum, at Milborne Port, in south-western England.

Prof. Len Newton (July 9, 2019).


David Richard Hunt, 25th September 1938 – 20th May 2019
Graham Charles remembers David Hunt, PhD, who has sadly passed away at the age of 81.

The cactus world is saddened to hear about the passing of David Hunt, one of few British botanists who specialised in the study of the Cactaceae.  He worked at Kew Gardens from 1961 to 1994, after which he retired to live in Somerset where he subsequently set up the English Organ School & Museum with his wife Margaret (née Phillips). David’s accomplishments in the field of cacti are impressive:

Secretary of the IOS 1985–94 & 2007 to present.

Editor of Curtis’s Botanical Magazine 1968–82.

Joint editor of the journal of the Cactus & Succulent Society of Great Britain 1976–82.

President of the Mammillaria Society 1978–84.

Joint founder and editor of Bradleya 1983-92.

Appointed BCSS Fellow in 1983 and a Cactus & Succulent Society of America Fellow in 1995.

Awarded Monaco’s prestigious Cactus d’Or award in 2006.

As well as writing many books and articles in his accomplished and easy to read style, often about his favourite genus Mammillaria, David edited and published his Succulent Plant Research series of books.  Periodicals titled Mammillaria Postscripts and later Huitzilopochlia continued his studies of his favourite genus.  His CITES Checklists formed the basis of the treatment used in the New Cactus Lexicon (NCL) published in 2006.  David pioneered the use of subspecies rather than variety for infra-specific taxa, thus helping to clean up decades of taxonomic ‘clutter’.  Leading up to this time, he had published a series of booklets called Cactaceae Concensus Initiatives, later Cactaceae Systematics Initiatives, which reviewed the approach to be taken with the NCL and subsequently the post publication revisions. The list of his new descriptions and combinations is extensive.

I personally got to know David when he asked me to join the team tasked with putting the NCL together. During a series of meetings with specialists we agreed which species to accept and chose the pictures.  I found the experience enjoyable and enlightening, learning a lot about the botanical aspects of our hobby. David was famous as a ‘lumper’, preferring to accept a wide concept of a species and dismissing many described species as variants of older names.

David Hunt was the most influential botanist in the field of Cactaceae in recent times. As he was so willing to write down what he knew, we have a rich legacy of his work in print for future generations to learn from and enjoy.  We will miss his friendship and generosity, his companionship and insight, while thinking of his dear wife Margaret and hoping that happy memories of her remarkable husband will give her comfort at this sad time.

Graham Charles, July 11, 2019.


Left to right: David Hunt, Detlev Metzing, Graham Charles, Nigel Taylor and Martin Lowry

David Hunt – a personal reminiscence

When I met David for the first time, it was still during my undergraduate years, when I visited Kew for the first time, almost 40 years ago. Ever since then, David's and my ways crossed uncountable times, almost always in connection with cactus botany. Out mutual interest in cactus taxonomy accompanied us throughout all these almost 40 years, and one of the last exchanges of e-mails with David very aptly dealt with one of his long-term projects, "Ritter in Colour", which united our shared interests both in the history and the taxonomy of cacti.

My memory of my first meeting with David is that of what I thought to be a typical English gentleman – serious-looking, a little unapproachable coupled with a pinch of excentricism. Over the years, David became an esteemed colleague, and hundreds if not thousands of letters and later e-mails were exchanged between us. For many years, we both served on the board of the International Organization for Succulent Plant Research (IOS), and the close contacts persisted beyond this time because of my responsibility to compile the IOS-published Repertorium Plantarum Succulentarum.

David's unexpected and premature death has put a sudden end to many of our joint projects. The empty space David left is impossible to fill, but he will live on in our memories, not the least because of his long list of publications dealing with cactus taxonomy.

Dr. Urs Eggli, July 2019.

David Richard Hunt 1938-2019

David was certainly the most important  scientist working on Cact in recent times,  he has shaped our science over the last five decades. The era of the classic cactus taxonomy came to an end. I remember very well when I met him on my first visit to the Kew herbarium in 1972  - I was completely fascinated by his analytic classical taxonomic approach and with Werner Rauh he has shaped my own thinking the most with the many mutual visits, the joint workshops, excursions in both Americas, and the IOS Inter-Congress (1991) in Bonn. He has decisively influenced the work on the family for half a century. What a sad loss – for Margaret, the whole cactus world and for myself.

Prof. Wilhelm Barthlott, July 11, 2019.

Reto Nyffeler, David Hunt and Wilhelm Barthlott at the IOS Inter-Congress in
Bonn, Germany (1991).

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