Foremost students
of Malpighiaceae
José Cuatrecasas

10 March 1903 — 23 May 1996

José Cuatrecasas published widely on many families, especially the Compositae, and was an authority of the flora of Colombia. He began his long career in Madrid, but worked in Bogotá and Cali during the Spanish Civil War and World War II. In 1947 he moved to the Field Museum in Chicago and in 1955 to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC., where he remained active until shortly before his death.

Cuatrecasas initiated a Flora of Colombia for which he surveyed extensive herbarium holdings, but also relied on his field notes and the many collections obtained during his own expeditions. He also provided a thorough review of previous publications and nomenclature.

He became a specialist of the Malpighiaceae when he prepared the treatment for his "Prima Flora Colombiana" (1958), which revealed the astonishing richness of the family in Colombia. He recognized 168 species (in 21 genera), many of them newly described or their circumscriptions amended. His two new genera, Atopocarpus and Skoliopterys, are now included in Heteropterys. Cuatrecasas contributed additional papers on Malpighiaceae and, with co-author T. B. Croat, wrote the account of the family for the Flora of Panama (1981).