EK Janaki Ammal

The 125th birth anniversary of Edavalath Kakkat Janaki Ammal, a pioneering botanist and the first Indian woman to be awarded a PhD in the botanical sciences was observed on 4 November 2022.

  • Janaki Ammal is known widely for her contributions to science – in the field of genetics, cytology, evolution, and more.
  • She was recently the inspiration for Savithri Preetha Nair, who wrote the scientist’s biography ‘Chromosome Woman, Nomad Scientist: E K Janaki Ammal, A Life 1897-1984’.
  • She worked on making several intergeneric and interspecific hybrids involving sugarcane and related grass species.
  • These works were highly significant, as she is believed to have been responsible for creating sugarcane hybrids that yielded sweeter sugar.
  • Along with C.D. Darlington, she authored ‘The Chromosome Atlas of Cultivated Plants’ in 1945 which contained her work on many species.
  • To honour her work, the Royal Horticultural Society named a variety of Magnolia blossoms after her – the Magnolia Kobus Janaki Ammal.