Angelo Garibaldi Italy

The doctor of flowers

"I decided to become a plant pathologist in order to take care of flowers and understand the reasons why plants get ill."

Angelo is a plant pathologist – a scientist who studies plant diseases. The son of a floriculturist (flower grower) from the north of Italy, Angelo grew up surrounded by plants, especially carnations, and learned all the secrets of the flower trade. 

One afternoon, when Angelo was still a boy, he found his father desperate in the greenhouse. A serious pathogen, almost impossible to eradicate, had somehow got inside the greenhouse, affecting all the carnations one by one. This awful disease was called “mal bleu” by floriculturists, because of the blueish tint it gave to the plants. Confronted with his father’s desperation at the death of his plants, Angelo took a firm decision regarding his future 

“I decided to become a plant pathologist in order to take care of flowers and understand the reasons why plants get ill. I wanted to be able to teach floriculturists how to manage their diseases."  

A man of his word, Angelo went on to do just that. Now, decades later, as Emeritus Professor at the University of Turin, he is a world-leading expert in the field of diseases of ornamental plants He has authored over 1 000 scientific papers and has discovered 500 new diseases affecting different crops. Three hundred of these are diseases that affect flowers. No coincidence – the floriculturist’s son never forgot his first love! 

The work of plant pathologists like Angelo has led to huge improvements in our ability to diagnose and protect against plant pests and diseases. Angelo’s example can serve to inspire the current generation of plant pathologists, as they work collaboratively with other scientists, plant breeders and crop-management specialists to counter the threats to plant health in today’s increasingly globalized world.