Sherwin J. Carlquist

Date of Birth

July 7, 1930

Date of Death

December 1, 2021

City of Death

Santa Barbara, CA

Dr. Sherwin J. Carlquist is known internationally for his lifetime of work in science and art, and by several generations of colleagues, students, and friends. A botanist, plant anatomist, artist, professor at Pomona College and UCSB, and avid field researcher, he spent half a century traveling the world on National Science Foundation grants and the force of his curiosity to author numerous seminal books on island biology, botany, and wood anatomy, as well as roughly 340 papers in peer-reviewed journals. More remarkable than the quantity are his conceptual advances, with many ideas in wood anatomy and island biology explored for the first time. More information, written in Sherwin’s inimitable voice, is available at his website Sherwin was also the author, photographer, and publisher of over ten male-in-nature photography books, celebrating the natural male body in numerous beloved California landscapes. Inquiries related to his artistic work and books can be sent to

Towards what might have been the end of an illustrious scientific and artistic career, Sherwin settled in Hope Ranch in the home he helped design in 1956 for an equally prolific retirement. There, he published dozens of peer-reviewed papers and five more books of his personal photography. He was a professor emeritus at UCSB, conducted research at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, and volunteered at Cottage Hospital and Pacific Pride Foundation, organizations with missions dear to his heart.

Condensing any life to a collection of paragraphs will always pale to the enormity of any one achievement, relationship, career, book, photograph, paper, conversation, or moment with its subject. Approaching this impossibility, the following distillation of his core values is submitted by many who knew him well: scientific inquiry, intellectual curiosity, love of the natural world, artistic expression, meaningful connection, and leaving a legacy. He taught so many to risk being an outsider, to think critically, access courage, and find enormity in the everyday. He modeled an impassioned independence and fierce, informed advocacy. He believed it was essential to choose things to care for, and know why they’re worth it. His lifelong body of work will continue to speak for itself in both science and art, which is how he would have wanted it.

A memorial in January 2022 is currently being planned; inquiries can be sent to for updated information.


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