Rev. Fr Hermenegild Santapau obtained PhD (1927) from Gregorian University and another PhD from University of London. He worked as Staff Member, Royal Botanic Gardens (Kew), St Xavier’s College, Mumbai (1940); also Chief Botanist (1955) and Director (1961-68), Botanical Survey of India.
Academic and Research Achievements:Santapau carried out botanical explorations in the Central Cevennes, France (1926), Eastern Pyrenees (1934), the Italian Alps (1936), Baluchistan (1946), Kathiawar (1946-54) and the Dangs Forest (1950-55). In India, he explored the Western Ghats from Kaiyat and Khandala down to Goa and the Eastern Ghats from Waltair to Vijayawada, the Pulneys and the Nilgiris. He also explored the north-east and northern regions - the Khasia and Jaintia Hills in Assam, Darjeeling and Kalimpong and Dehra Dun and Mussoorrie. He collected some 100,000 botanical specimens, which are preserved in Bombay, Kew (London), Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, Missourie Botanical Garden and other national and international herbaria. He was a prolific writer; to mention a few of his books: The Flora of Khandala in the Western Ghats of India, (1953), The flora of Saurashtra (1962), The Orchids of Bombay (1966), and Common Trees (1966).
Other Contributions: A father figure of Indian botany, Santapau served on several committees of CSIR and its constituents and ICMR. He served as Editor of Bombay Natural History Society’s publications. He was Member of the Asiatic Society, Botanical Society of Bengal (sometime President), Bombay Natural History Society (sometime Vice-President), Phytopathological Society of India, International Society of Phytomorphology, International Association for Plant Taxonomy, and International Association of Botanical Gardens.
Awards and Honours: Dr Santapau won Birbal Sahni Gold MSedal (1964); Order of Alphonso X the Wise; and Padma Shri (1967). He was President of the Botany Section, Indian Science Congress (1965). He was elected Fellow of the Linnaean Society, London and Indian Botanical Society (President 1955) and was Honorary Life Member of the Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Society of Bengal.