Clara Heyn

In her work on Leguminosae (a family of plants that includes peas and legumes), Clara Heyn named several new species and helped scientists better understand the variety of plants native to Israel. Born Chaia Clara Blau, Heyn fled Vienna in 1938 with her parents and made Aliyah to Palestine, where she studied at a teacher’s college in Tel Aviv and taught primary school for seven years. She began studying biology at Hebrew University in Jerusalem in 1945 but put her studies on hold to serve in the Haganah and Israeli Defense Forces in the War of Independence. She earned her doctorate in botany in 1960; her dissertation became  a book that has remained a classic in the study of Medicago, a variety of flowering, creeping legumes with burrs. Heyn began teaching at Hebrew University in 1962 and directed the school’s herbarium from 1969–1997. She was a founding board member of OPTIMA (the Organization for the Phyto-Taxonomic Investigation of the Mediterranean Area), and in 1995, two years after her retirement from the organization, she won Optima’s Gold Medal for her scientific contributions.


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Clara Heyn.
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Jewish Women's Archive. "Clara Heyn." (Viewed on January 24, 2020) <>.


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