The Torrey Botanical Society is an organization for people interested in plant life, including professional and amateur botanists, students, and others who simply enjoy nature. The society, which began informally in the 1860’s under the aegis and inspiration of Columbia College Professor John Torrey, is thought to be the oldest botanical society in America. The early members were amateur botanists, students, and colleagues of Dr. Torrey, who were interested in collecting and identifying plants and occasionally met in the evening to discuss their findings. The organization was named with the appearance of its first publication, Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club, in 1870, and was incorporated in 1871. The Society has published a scientific journal since that time, and currently publishes the Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society quarterly.
Today, the objectives of the Society are “to promote interest in botany, and to collect and disseminate information on all phases of plant science.” These objectives are fulfilled through meetings, field trips, public lectures, publications, funding of graduate research and education, and sponsorship of symposia and regional conferences. Through outreach and publications, the society has become an international organization and is affiliated with the American Institute of Biological Sciences. It differs from many scientific societies in that it hosts numerous free public lectures and field trips.