Top Ten Plant Hunters

Another top ten list this time of top ten plant hunters.
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Carl Linnaeus is known as the father of taxonomy

Sir Joseph Banks possibly the father of Kew accompanied Captain Cook on HMS Endeavour’s voyage to the South Pacific (1768-1771), was involved with the HMS Bounty and breadfruit and many early plant hunts. He was appointed as a of Kew Gardens by George III in 1773. A Joseph Banks Tribute Garden has been established in Lincolnshire which is now part of the National Gardens scheme. Many plants are now named Banksii as a tribute to his collecting, introducing and organising the Plant Hunting of the 18th century.

William Lobb and his brother Thomas Lobb were prolific plant hunters in the Georgian and Victorian era when new plant introductions were in great demand. South America was the terratory where they collected many trees and species for Veitch the nursery.

George Forrest, 1873 – 1932 was a Scot who collected Rhododendron forrestii, R. sinogrande, R. repens, R. griersonianum, R. intricatum and R. giganteum, as well as more than 50 species of primula. Also introduced were numerous buddleias, anemones, asters, deutzias, conifers, berberis, alliums and cotoneasters and plants that now bear his name including Pleione forrestii, Pieris forrestii, Iris forrestii, Acer forrestii.

Joseph Hooker 1817-1911 took part in several expeditions. The first voyage was in 1839-1843 onboard HMS Erebus, an Antarctic expedition. During 1847-1849 Hooker travelled to the central and eastern Himalaya where he collected c.700 species in India and Nepal and added 25 new rhododendrons to the 50 already known.

Robert Fortune smuggled tea plants out of China which contributed to the foundation of a vast cash crop vital to the development of the Empire.

William Hooker Kew’s first public Director and father to Joseph, encouraged the UK colonies to send plants and seeds to Kew in the UK for botanic gardens and ornamental growing.

Frank Kingdon-Ward (1885-1958), often referred to as the last of the great plant collectors, sent 120 plants to Kew. He explored regions such as Yunnan in China, Burma and Tibet in the 1920s and 1930s.His plant hunting financed his treks but it is said he was an explorer first and a plantsman second.

Francis Masson 1741-1805 was a prolific collector credited with Agapanthus, Amaryllis belladonna, Arum Lily, Bird of Paradise Flower, Cineraria, Red Hot Poker and some Protea.

Allan Cunningham 1791-1839 collected many Australian species and also made trips to Brazil

Plant Hunters feature in various books, often with a thrilling component from Amazon

See also Top 100 Gardeners
Joseph Banks Society

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