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Professor Panchanan Maheshwari : The originator of Indian Plant Embryolgoy

In this article you can read a biography of Professor Panchanan Maheshwari who occupies an important place among scientists. Professor Panchanan Maheshwari is also known as the Father of Indian Plant Embryology.


Indian civilization is one of the oldest civilizations in the world. Vedic literature is regarded as the treasury of knowledge not only for India, but rather for the whole world. Many scientists or the Rishis of ancient time were born in the country from the Vedic to modern period. Professor Panchanan Maheshwari occupies an important place among those scientists. He was a great botanist. He enlightened the whole world by his discoveries in the field of plant sciences. For the first time, he was able to grow a plant after natural fertilization in a test tube containing artificial culture medium.

Birth and Education

Professor Panchanan Maheshwari was born on 9th of November, 1904 at Jaipur in the house of Shri Vijaypal who was in an ordinary clerical job. Professor Panchanan Maheshwari got his graduation degree from Ewing Christian College, Allahabad in 1925. Post graduate degree (M.Sc.) and the most prestigious degree, Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) were awarded to him in 1927 and 1931 respectively. Professor Panchanan Maheshwari came into contact with Prof. Winfield Dudgeon when he was a student of Ewing Christian College. Prof. Dudgeon was an American botanist.

Academic Career

As a teacher, Professor Panchanan Maheshwari started his career from Ewing College, Allahabad. He joined Agra College, Agra in 1930 as a lecturer. Due to his travels to Europe, he resigned from this college in 1936. He provided his service again to Allahabad University from 1937 to 1939. During this period, he also joined Lucknow University, Lucknow as reader and H.O.D., Botany (from July to September 1939). In November, 1939, Professor Panchanan Maheshwari joined Dhaka University, Dhaka as Head of the department of Botany. It needs to be mentioned here that before independence, both Pakistan and Bangladesh were parts of India. Professor Panchanan Maheshwari was later on promoted to the post of Dean in the University. He was invited by the Vice Chancellor Sir Morris Jwier to chair the post of H.O.D., Botany at Delhi University, Delhi in 1949. Till his retirement he continued on the post at Delhi University.

Honours and Awards

The medals and awards are:

  • In 1931, Professor Panchanan Maheshwari was awrded D.Sc. By Allahabad University.
  • Professor Panchanan Maheshwari was elected as the President of Indian Botanical Society (IBS).
  • The most prestigious institute at London, "The Royal Society" honoured Professor Panchanan Maheshwari as the Fellow of Royal Society (FRS)in 1965. Professor Panchanan Maheshwari was the second FRS (After Sir J.C. Bose) to be honoured as FRS.
  • Professor Panchanan Maheshwari was awarded Birbal Sahani Medal by the Indian Botanical Society (IBS) in 1959.
  • Professor Panchanan Maheshwari was selected as the President of the National Academy of Sciences in 1963.

Contributions in Botany

The main contributions of Professor Panchanan Maheshwari in the field of botany are:

  1. Detailed study of the structure and development of gametophyte of a Gymnosperm plant, Ephedra foliata .
  2. Study of the stomata in the leaves of Gnetum
  3. Artificial culture of male cone of Pinu roxburghii and development of its pollen grains in culture medium.
  4. Study of embryogeny in many angiosperms.
  5. Study of the development of vascular bundle in Boerhavia difusaandRumex cryspus
  6. Phylogenetic study of angiosperms of the basis of their embrogeny.
  7. Culture of reproductive organs of many angiosperms on artificial culture medium.
  8. Authoring of the world famous book "An Introduction of the Embryology of Angiosperms" in 1950.
  9. Publication of the famous journal "Phytomorphology". It is still being published by IARI, New Delhi.
  10. Publication of another important book in botany "Recent Advances in Embryology of Angiosperms " in 1951.
  11. Last but not the least, Professor Panchanan Maheshwari was fond of Indian culture. In 1966, he gave the Presidential lecture in Hindi at Indian Science Congress Association (ISCA). Professor Panchanan Maheshwari was gifted with excellent memory. Professor Panchanan Maheshwari used to write his own comments on the pages of books of Delhi university library. Professor Panchanan Maheshwari was the leading flag marcher of Indian science.

Professor Panchanan Maheshwari passed away on 18th May, 1966.

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