John M. Coulter Review

John Merle Coulter

The International Journal of Plant Sciences has established the John M. Coulter Review, beginning in 2012. The Review will provide a unique opportunity for scientists working at the forefront of their fields to share their own insights and updates on the latest developments in plant biology.


The Review has been named in honor of John Merle Coulter (1851–1928), who came to the University of Chicago in 1896 as the first Head Professor of Botany. Professor Coulter had started a botanical journal called the Botanical Bulletin in 1875, when he was a professor of Natural Sciences at Hanover College in southern Indiana. As stated in the first issue, the Bulletin’s mission was to disseminate “botanical discoveries and observations” that need “a convenient and rapid means of communications among botanists.” One year and twelve issues later, in order to avoid confusion with the Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club, Coulter renamed his journal the Botanical Gazette.

Professor Coulter was the sole owner of the journal; he edited it, had it printed, and mailed it, paying expenses from his own pocket. (In 1876, twelve issues of the Botanical Gazette were available for one dollar.) Upon his appointment at the University of Chicago, Coulter sold the Botanical Gazette to the University Press.

The early volumes of the Botanical Gazette published the lore of American botanical research well into the 1920s. Only then did the newly founded American Journal of Botany, Journal of Ecology, and Plant Physiology begin to come on the scene. The Botanical Gazette, with its broad coverage of all aspects of plant biology, from morphology to ecology to paleobotany, remained a major outlet for botanical research.

In 1991, after 116 years of publication, the Gazette underwent yet another name change to reflect the now global reach of the journal, assuming the title International Journal of Plant Sciences.

It is only fitting that the new Reviews be named to honor the initiative and dedication of the journal’s founder, John Merle Coulter.