Eve Palmer 1992


Eve Palmer was born in Somerset East in 1918, and spent the early years of her life on her father's farm near Graaff-Reinet. During that time she was taught by a governess but later, at the age of 14, enrolled at Collegiate High School for Girls in Port Elizabeth, where she matriculated.

In 1936 a strong desire to become a journalist led her to University College London where in 1938, she received the Diploma in Journalism. Thereafter she returned to Southern Africa and accepted her first appointment with the Rhodesia Herald. It was there that she met Geoffrey Jenkins, whom she married in 1950.

Following a subsequent move to Pretoria, Eve Palmer was appointed Publicity Officer to the National Veld Trust and editor of their magazine. During this period she became closely associated with the Botanical Research Institute, and a distinct botanical bias became evident in her writing.

In 1961, in collaborat1on with Norah Pitman, Eve Palmer's first book Trees of South Africa, was published. Plains of Camdeboo, which presents a picture of the plants, animals and people of the Karoo was published in 1966.

Then followed Eve Palmer's most significant and valuable contribution to the science of Botany. Published (with Norah Pitman) in 1972, Trees of Southern Africa took 13 years to complete. Its three volumes represent the most comprehensive scientific publication on South Africa's rich arboreal heritage. This book includes detailed descriptions of the more-than-1000 species of trees indigenous to Southern Africa and is still, today, regarded as a standard reference work.

Further books by Eve Palmer were to follow. In 1977 A Field Guide to the Trees of Southern Africa appeared, A Companion Gu(de to South Africa (with Geoffrey Jenkins) (1978), The South African Herbal (1985), and in 1989 Under the Olive. The latter two books were also published in Afrikaans.

Deservedly, Eve Palmer is the recipient of a number of awards. In 1978 she was presented with the prestigious Bolus Medal by the South African Botanical Society, bearing testimony to the acceptance of her work in scientific circles. She won the Recht Malan prize for The South African Herbal in 1986, and in 1989 was awarded the Freedom of Pearston.

It is indeed fitting that the University of Port Elizabeth which shares its Eastern Cape origin with Eve Palmer, should give recognition for her outstanding contribution to Science in general and Botany in particular. It is therefore an honour for the Senate and Council of the University of Port Elizabeth to confer the degree of Doctor Scientiae, honoris causa, on Eve Palmer.