Armand David – 1826-1900
David was a French naturalist who went to Pekin as a missionary in 1862. Interest in his specimens, mostly zoological, sent to the Paris Museum of Natural History prompted his three scientific expeditions into Mongolia – 1866, 1868-69, 1872-74. Returning to France he found more than 80 species grown from seed collected by him and growing in the Paris Museum gardens. His collections included many species of rhododendron, gentian, and primula. He is commemorated in the genus Davidia. Director Franchet hadreceived1577 specimens from him, about 250 new to science and published in Plantae Davidianae (1884).
Jean Delavay (1838-1895) a French missionary
who collected plants for Henry Hance of the British consular service in Canton and Hong Kong. Returning to Paris in 1881 and meeting David and the Director of the Paris Museum René Franchet, Delavay was persuaded to send future collections to Paris. This initiated a flood of specimens as Delavay sent 200,000 specimens of more than 4000 species, about 150 new augmented by those of other missionaries Farges (c. 4000; 1892-1903) and Soulié (c. 7000; 1890-1905). On a second visit Delavay was stationed in near Tali-fu in Yunnan. It is likely that more garden plants were introduced to the West by Delavay than by any other botanist.
Paul Farges (1844-1912) French missionary
on the NE border of Szechuan from 1892-1903 sent specimens to the Paris Museum and, like Delavay and Soulié, sent seed to nurseryman Maurice de Vilmorin (whose nursery was in a Paris suburb and estate that was a former hunting lodge of Louis XIV of France) .
Jean Soulié (1858-1905) a medical missionary
who collected on the border of Tibet.
In the period 1860 to 1900 Russia undertook several scientific expeditions: Przewalski and Komarof in Turkestan, Tibet and Manchuria and Potanin to Mongolia. Potanin made two horticulturally important expeditions to Western China in 1884 and 1893.
Grigori Potanin (1835-1920) student political rebel
he redeemed himself to be financed by the Imperial Russian Geographical Society to Western China from 1884 to 1886, taking his botanist wife who helped prepare the haul of 12,000 specimens representing about 4000 species. A second expedition was mounted in 1893 with about 10,000 specimens collected as well as seed and drug plants.
Augustine Henry (1857-1930) was an Irish medical student from Belfast
who became a Medical Officer and Assistant Inspector of Customs in 1881, first in Shanghai and then Ichang in 1882. His official recording of medicinal plants generated an interest in botany, correspondence with Kew, and the collection of specimens. In the first year he sent 1000 specimens including 10 new genera to Director Thistleton-Dyer who found funds to support a couple of expeditions which produced a rich harvest for later Western gardens. He also gained the assistance of Chinese collectors.
Ernest Wilson (1876-1930) was a gardener trained at Hewitt’s Nursery Solihull and Birmingham Botanic Gardens then in 1897 to Kew
The Harry Veitch nursery in Coombe Wood employed him for 6 months and on the advice of Thistleton-Dyer sent him out to China in 1899 via America’s Arnold Arboretum where he was to learn about plant transportation and meet the famous Professor Sargent. Though instructed to concentrate on obtaining seed of Davidia he collected many more horticultural gems mostly in the steps of Henry. In a second season of collecting (1901) he sent back 35 cases of bulbs and roots, and over 900 herbarium specimens, returning to Coombe Wood in 1902. A second trip to the West followed but when he returned in 1905 the Veitch nursery was in decline, winding up in 1914. In the meantime a third expedition was sponsored by Harvard University and Sargent, emigrating to America to eventually become Keeper of the Arnold Arboretum. A fourth expedition followed in 1910. His novel introductions number over a thousand. His travelogue appeared in 1913 A Naturalist in Western China.
George Forrest (1873-1932) a Scotsman trained as a chemist
who roved in Australia before joining the herbarium staff at Edinburgh where he worked for two years before setting off on his Chinese assignment in 1904. Forrest managed to employ teams of people during his exploration, which enabled him to send back 200 pounds of seed of 400-600 species and about 3000 herbarium specimens. He was able to exploit the craze for rhododendrons that was sweeping Western horticulture at this time, the English Rhododendron Society founded in 1915. His Chinese journeys spanned 28 years specializing in rock garden and alpine plants, especially primulas and rhododendrons. His impact was vast. He died on the last of his journeys in 1932, this expedition alone amassing at least 300 lb of seed representing 400-500 species.
Arthur Bulley now required another collector and this time Balfour recommended:
Frank Kingdon-Ward (1885-1958) an Englishman who had taught in Shanghai and had experience on expeditions.
His life of botanizing for 50 years included around 25 expeditions through Tibet, North Western China, Myanmar and Assam (NE India).