The International Botanical Congress
Prior to the creation of the International Botanical Congress (IBC), local botanical groups held meetings in their own areas to discuss the natural sciences. Over time these groups grew large and many called for a large international organization.
The first meeting of the IBC was held in 1864, in Brussels, Belgium. The meeting’s time and place were selected to coincide with an international horticultural exhibit there. The conference was held annually for several years. At many of these meetings, several members requested that they standardize botanical nomenclature (scientific naming of the plants). While there was some discussion on the topic, the official rules weren’t set for several years.
Although the congresses date back to 1864, the formal numbering system still in use today wasn’t implemented until 1900. So the 1900 Congress is generally referred to as the First International Botanical Congress. Since then, the meetings have generally been held about every five or six years. During these early congresses, they adopted French as the official language of their meetings (then changed it to English in 1935) and established that Latin would be used for plant descriptions.
Up until 1926, all of the meetings had been held in Europe. The first one outside of Europe was held that year in Ithaca, New York. The IBC returned to the US in 1969 for the 11th Congress in Seattle, Washington. At that meeting they established the International Association of Bryologists (bryology is the study of mosses, liverworts, and hornworts). For the next several decades the meetings rotated between Europe, North America, and Australia. The first meeting in Asia occurred in 1993 in Japan.