Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria
Born on 29 July 1874 at Woking, Surrey, England; died on 3 June 1951 at Sorrento, Victoria.
Edith was educated at Holy Trinity and St Mary's National School, Guildford, Surrey, and, after her family arrived in Melbourne in 1887, at Camberwell State School. From 1889 to 1898 she taught at six state schools in Gippsland, Maryborough and suburban Melbourne.
On 7 April 1898 at Christ Church, South Yarra, she married James George Coleman, a salesman and pioneer motorist.
Joining the Field Naturalists' Club of Victoria in 1922, Edith Coleman immediately delivered a paper, 'Some Autumn Orchids', which exemplified the knowledge, love of nature and pleasing style that were to characterize the contributions she sent from her Blackburn home to the Victorian Naturalist for twenty-nine years. Her prolific output of natural history notes and papers was also published in the press, popular nature magazines, and in one or two scientific journals.
Through a series of papers (1927 to 1933) in the Victorian Naturalist, Coleman recorded her discovery of the pollination of three Cryptostylis orchid species by the Ichneumon wasp, Lissopimpla semipunctata, via the insect's pseudo-copulation with the orchid flower that resembles the female Ichneumon. Her descriptions 'created enormous world interest', and confirmed and extended overseas research on orchid pollination by insects. A member of the Australian Orchid Society, she published in its journal, as well as in the London periodicals, Orchid Review and Journal of Botany.
The first woman to receive the Australian Natural History medallion (1949), Coleman generously helped beginners in natural history. Although English by birth, in her Come Back in Wattle Time (1935) she wrote—as an Australian—of the many soldiers in World War I who had received a tiny spray of wattle that 'whispered something deeper than ''Come Back"'.
Source: Extracted from: http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/coleman-edith-9784
Portrait Photo: 1949, Extracted from: Victorian Naturalist, Vol.67, p.99, Sept 1950