Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria
Phil Sharpe was born at Wood Green, London, UK, on 18 September 1915, but for much of his childhood lived at Croydon, Surrey. He died on 11 August 2016 in Queensland.
He was educated at Whitgift School and then studied for 2 years at an Agricultural College in East Sussex. He worked at various farm jobs in the early 1930's but the difficulty in finding work prompted him to apply to join the Metropolitan Police. Phil served in the police in London until 1943 and then joined the Army Intelligence Corp because he was able to speak and read German which he had learnt from his Austrian born wife. After serving in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany he returned to the Police Force in 1945. He later became an instructor at the police driver training school. He retired from the police in 1964 with the rank of Sergeant and with the family emigrated to Australia settling in Brisbane.
In 1969 Phil obtained a position with the Department of Industrial Development, his jobs included being security guard and then as a Departmental chauffeur. While chauffeuring a minister on a visit to the Herbarium complex, he introduced himself at the Herbarium.
A year later, at the age of 55, he applied to be transferred to the Queensland Herbarium (Botany Branch), Department of Primary Industries at Indooroopilly as a temporary male assistant mounting specimens for the Herbarium. After about a year he took over the upkeep of the Herbarium specimens and during this time developed an interest in the sedges (Cyperaceae and Restionaceae). After the death of Dr S.T. Blake he took over responsibility for identification of sedges.
As soon as Phil commenced work at the herbarium he became an avid specimen collector and took the opportunity to go on several field trips with other herbarium staff. With a now well developed knowledge of the sedges Phil undertook to write accounts of the Cyperaceae and Restionaceae for the Flora of South East Queensland. From this followed his Keys to Cyperaceae, Restionaceae and Juncaceae in Queensland that he completed after retirement in 1980 and which was published as Queensland Botany Bulletin No 5.
Phil continued his collecting after retirement, considerably adding to our knowledge of the flora of the Sunshine Coast hinterland. In later retirement Phil could see the advantages of computer-based interactive keys and information systems and volunteered to code and test datasets of Cyperaceae, Restionaceae and Juncaceae.
Four Queensland plants have been named in honour of Phil Sharpe, Alyxia sharpei, Bertya sharpeana, Cyperus sharpei and Digitaria sharpeana
[NOTE: Phil's younger brother was the British author Tom Sharpe (1928-2013), described by one critic as "an English comic novelist with a bawdy style and vulgar approach".]
Source: pers.com. Bill McDonald (2021)
Profile by Laurie Jessup in 2005 for DPI 'Passion for Plants' series
Extract from Ron Booth's powerpoint on Phil
ABRS contributors survey mid-1980s.
Portrait Photo: 2005, from Ron Booth's powerpoint on Phil.
Data from 9,892 specimens