Joseph Woods was a son of Joseph Woods , a Quaker social reformer of Stoke Newington, London. He was educated at home and became proficient in modern and classical languages.
From the age of 16 he studied architecture and pursued this career, being based in London, until he retired in 1835. In connection with his work he travelled quite extensively in continental Europe. By quite early on he had become a keen amateur botanist, and he gradually built on this to contribute scientific papers to journals and learned societies on plant systematics. He is particularly known for his work on the British genus Rosa, and on Salicornia.
On retirement from architecture he moved to live in Lewes in East Sussex, and devoted much of his time to botanical studies. ‘The Tourists Flora. A Descriptive Catalogue of the Flowering Plants and Ferns of the British Islands, France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and the Italian Islands’ (1850), was one product of this time. This can be accessed at archive.org : click here
Although soon after his retiremen he visited Teesdale and the Scottish Highlands, most of his field studies of plants were conducted in the south-eastern counties of England.
He built herbarium collections including both British and continental specimens. His writing and system for dating (final two digits of year, followed by month and day), and a characteristic ‘W’ monogram added (probably later), are distinctive – see jpg below.
On his death a significant part of his herbaria was acquired by the Hampshire botanist Frederick Townsend and incorporated into his own collection. When he, in turn, died in 1905, this large collection passed to A.O.Hume, and was incorporated into the herbarium being assembled for the South London Botanical Institute (SLBI), where, with Woods specimens, it remains to this day.
His contribution to botanical science is particularly remembered in the British fern genus Woodsia.
Snippet from early Journal Of Botany :