Australian Orchid Foundation

In memory of


1922 ~ 2003

Keith was born in Goulburn NSW in 1922 and sadly passed away on the 18th July, 2003. In 1941 Keith began training as an Agricultural teacher in Armidale NSW, this being interrupted by World War 2.

When Keith was discharged in 1946, he began an Agricultural Science Degree at the Sydney University, graduating with a Batchelor of Agricultural Science in 1949. He accepted a post as an Agricultural teacher at Hurlstone Agricultural High School and taught until 1953, when he was appointed to lecture at Hawkesbury Agricultural College (now the University of Western Sydney).

This is where his passion for Australian native orchids developed. He became interested in researching the Dendrobium kingianum genus. He travelled to England to research the plants at Kew Gardens that were ‘direct descendants’ of the original plants that had been sent to England in 1843 by John Garne Bidwell (then the Government Botanist and Director of the Sydney Botanic Gardens). It was John Bidwell who named this orchid after his friend, Captain P. King, RN (records reveal that it was initially called “Captain King’s Dendrobium”).

In acknowledgement of his contribution to furthering scientific knowledge, Keith was granted a special scientific collectors licence. After many years of travelling around New South Wales and Queensland collecting and researching, he undertook graduate studies in science at Sydney University. In 1968 Keith was awarded a Master of Science degree from Sydney University for his thesis entitled “A Cytological Survey of some Australian Orchid Genera”.

In 1976, he was elected to the International Society of Soil-less Culture as the World Councils representative for Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific. Keith inspected and advised commercial hydroponic operations in England, America, Singapore, Scotland, the Netherlands and various other countries in Europe.

In 1979, he presented a paper at the Symposium “Research on Recirculation Water Culture” in England. During 1980 to 1984 he attended the 5th and 6th International Congress on “Soil-less Culture” in the Netherlands. Keith and his wife Val visited Singapore, Belgium, Scotland, England, the Canary Islands and the U.S.A. inspecting hydroponic operations that have appeared in numerous publications of the host countries.

Keith belonged to the Sydney University Rugby League and also participated in a long distance bicycle race from Goulburn to Sydney on a number of occasions.

Keith was also interested in Gemmology. After a 4 Year course on Gemmology he received his Diploma in 1979, becoming a qualified Gemmologist. This was always a passion with Keith and he always enjoyed furthering his knowledge and sharing it with others.

Vale: Keith Maxwell, you were held with great respect and high esteem by those whom you taught and from the Australian Orchid Fraternity.

Tribute by Val Maxwell (North Rocks, New South Wales)

A donation has been made to the Australian Orchid Trust Fund by the Directors of The Australian Orchid Foundation.

AOTF: 2521