Nathaniel Ward's Terrarium Page

Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward (1791-1868)

This page is dedicated to Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward a London surgeon and gardening enthusiast who accidently discovered the Wardian case or terrarium in 1829. The Wardian case was an important advance in transporting plants by sea. The terrarium also had other uses. The invention of the terrarium is an unusual example of multiple discovery and has some interesting parallels to Fleming's accidental discovery of penicillin's antibiotic activity. Ward lived during the Victorian era, which was a time of many important botanists and botanical events. Wardian cases were very popular home accessories during Ward's life and enjoyed a revival in the U.S. during the 1970's terrarium craze. If you are interested in finding out more about Ward or terrariums, see this list of literature citations. Biology teachers may wish to read this brief discussion of terrarium teaching suggestions

Indoor Wardian Case (from Ward's 1852 book)

This page is based on my 1996 article "Doctor Ward's Accidental Terrarium" from The American Biology Teacher(58:276-281).

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