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He is an internationally acknowledged scientist of the researches into Hungarian flora.
He was born on 12th March 1883 in Hegybánya (today: Pjarg – Slovakia) in Hont county. He fineshed a secondary school in Selmecbánya (today: Banská Stiavnica- Slovakia) then he enrolled the Faculty of Sciences at the University with majors geography and sciences. At the end of his studies he was an apprentice at the botanic professorship for some month.
He got into the Department of Botany of Hungarian National Museum in 1905 where he worked until he retired in 1940. In 1906 he became a doctor with his thesis ‘Onosma Species in Hungary’ and gained a great reputation among specialists as well. During the decades in the museum he became the director of the institute twice. In acknowledgement of his work he got several orders of merit during his life. In 1936 the Hungarian Academy of Sciences elected him a corresponding member, then a full member in 1943. In 1945 he became the member of Hungarian Academy of Natural Sciences, and in 1952 he was awarded the Kossuth Award. Typically of his love for work he went into his office in the Department of Botany day by day even after retiring and was working almost until his death.
Jávorka Sándor, when he got into Department of Botany after graduating from the university, paid all his attention to the floriferous flora of the Carpathian Basin and the Balkan Peninsula. As a result of his single-minded, field and museum research work lasting for two decades and sparing no pains, in 1924-25 his book ‘Hungarian Flora’ (‘Flora Hungarica’) was published which is the ‘bible’ of our botanists even today. Though it was prepared as a standard identification book, surpassing that, he summarizes the flora of historical Hungary in a critical synthesis.
Soon the serial entitled ‘Hungarian Flora in Pictures’ (Iconographia Florae Hungaricae) was published as an illustration to the book and it formed an integral part of the more than 1000-page long work. These serials also came out in volume in 1934.
The ‘Iconographia’ is one of the most substantial pieces of the European botanical literature including naturalesque illustrations of more than 40000 plant species. The pictures are exquisite works of Csapody Vera prepared under the guidance of Jávorka Sándor. These two books were successes abroad as well.
The favourable reception of ‘Hungarian Flora’ made Jávorka to write a smaller illustrated handbook fit for use in the fields. ‘The Small Jávorka’ as it is called by our botanists was published in 1936 with the title ‘Small Identification handbook of Hungarian Flora’.
After the publication of these books Jávorka turned his attention to the work of the great foregoer Kitaibel Pál. Working for long years he worked up the Kitaibel Herbarium in the Department of Botany then he wrote Kitaibel’s biography.
His book ‘Flowers of forests and Meadow’ made for the general public was the most wanted of his works with several editions during the after-war decades. The illustrations were drawn by Csapody Vera again like in the case of their last common work, a colourful atlas of Central European garden plants. This book was published in 1962 with the title ‘Our Garden Flowers’ but Jávorka couldn’t live it.
He died in Budapest on 28th September in 1961. With his talent and diligence twinning with a humble and helpful personality the former blacksmith’s son became the ideal of the younger generation loving their profession. At the Department of Botany of Hungarian Natural History Museum the Jávorka Sándor Memorial Room’ keeps the excellent botanist’s inestimable intellectual heritage together with the remain of his indispensable co-worker Csapody Vera.