One of the pioneers of rainforest botany, and a formative personality of conservation in our region, Alex Floyd, passed away earlier this year.

In an insightful and touching obituary published in the Sydney Morning Herald, Dr Rob Kooyman shared many of the amazing facts from Floyd’s life and career. Kooyman describes Floyd’s knowledge of rainforest botany as “unsurpassed” – a contribution to society that saw him awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for services to botany.

In the obituary, Kooyman writes:

“Over time his warmth, scholarship, and botanical skills influenced and guided many people. His contribution to botanical understanding of the rainforests of south-eastern Australia is unsurpassed, and is heralded in both genera (2) and species (6) being named for him. From the timber, trunk, branches, twigs, leaves, flowers and fruits of the plants of the forest he learned how species function and live together. He was a true naturalist; everything fitted together and influenced each other. He had immense knowledge, but he still longed to know more, he never stopped learning or asking questions. He was both humble and giving in sharing all he knew.”

Floyd’s work was published prolifically. NSW Rainforest Trees was published in ten parts (1960-80), Rainforest Trees of Mainland South-eastern Australia was first published in 1989 and Australian Rainforests in New South Wales in 1990.

He was a tireless supporter of community-led plant identification, restoration and conservation initiatives, spoke frequently at Landcare gatherings, advised to all levels of government and community and active in starting the North Coast Regional Botanic Gardens at Coffs Harbour.

“There are people who work in certain fields of endeavour and others who shape their field. Alex Floyd belonged to the latter. While he may have cringed a little at that, his steadfast attention to detail and his consistent focus through many decades yielded an undeniable place in the annals of rainforest botany, and contributed significantly to the growth of appreciation for Australia’s rainforests,” Kooyman writes.

Big Scrub Rainforest Conservancy thanks Alex Floyd for the invaluable contribution he made, and we are extend our heartfelt condolences to his family.

Photo credit: Hugh Nicholson