Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria
Jean Scott Rogers (nee Paterson) was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, on 14 March 1867, died in Adelaide on 18 April 1954..
At the age of 17 years she met a young medical student, Richard Sanders Rogers, who had travelled from Adelaide to Edinburgh to study for a medical degree. The couple married in 1887 and she joined her husband at his private medical practice at Port Wakefield, S.A. in 1888. Dr Rogers later became known as an authority on Australian native orchids.
During the 1890s Rogers began accompanying her husband on his exploratory field trips as he developed a strong and consuming interest in native orchids. She was proud to claim that she was the first white woman to have travelled all the way around Kangaroo Island.
Jean Rogers worked with her husband to construct a herbarium at their Flinders Street, Adelaide City, home where they resided from 1891 to the mid 1920s. There they kept dried specimens of orchids some of them dating back to 1815. All the plants were arranged in their generic order and all were meticulously described and many were, in later years, recorded in their natural colours by the artistry of Miss Rosa Fiveash.
Rogers and her husband discovered a large number of new specie and travelled the country from Oodnadatta in the north to Mt Gambier in the south and across South Australia from east to west. In 1912 they went to Tasmania and did an orchid hunt across the island. Their private collection became one of the largest in Australia. She accompanied her husband as often as she could while not neglecting her teenage daughter and young son. She was gifted with what Dr Rogers described as an Orchid Eye and soon became a close and enthusiastic assistant to Dr Rogers.
Of particular note, Rogers accompanied her husband to Western Australia in 1919 where they rediscovered all of R.D. Fitzgeralds lost species of 1881 and they also discovered five new orchids. As a result of their WA trip, Jean Rogers work was commemorated in the name Drakaea jeanensis.
In 1928 the couple described a new genus of Australian orchid Rhizanthella gardneri a remarkable orchid that flowered underground. The plant had first been found by a farmer in WA growing near the roots of honey myrtle. The farmer showed it to the local farm inspector who passed it to the agricultural college from where it was sent to Dr Rogers in Adelaide for identification.
On another occasion a specimen of the South African orchid, Satyrium coriifolium, was brought to their home from Victor Harbour, SA. It had been brought back by a soldier after the Boer War. Jean Rogers at once went to collect further specimens which she eventually found after a rain soaking day in a farm garden and in an adjacent paddock. It should said that such gatherings, including the five new plants found during their 1919 trip, were rushed to the studio of Rosa Fiveash at North Adelaide where beautiful botanical paintings were completed preserving the natural colours of the flowers.
On one of the cards used by Dr Rogers in his herbarium index he wrote the following in honour and appreciation of his collaborator:
Rogers (nee Paterson), Jean Scott b. 14 March 1867.
"My wife is a very dear partner in my botanical joys. She has a keen eye and a super sense for an orchid habitat. An excellent pedestrian and a sheer love of the game. She will go anywhere and risk everything for a capture or a find. She lacks the knowledge of botany as a science. However, she is an artiste, a soul with a great love for all plants and it has always been so since her childhood.
She has collected with me in all Australian states except Queensland. Her natural instincts include a passion for music and she is an excellent and well-trained music critic. The specimens in my herbarium appear under our joint names as we invariably hunted as a couple."
Dr Richard Sanders Rogers died in Adelaide on 28 March 1942. Jean Scott Rogers later died in Adelaide on 18 April 1954.
Source: Written by Lauder R Scott Rogers, grandson,