The English Garden

The Reviewer

Modern Plant Hunters

by Dr Sandy Primrose Pimpernel, £30

Remote, little-known territories have captured the imaginations of explorers for centuries, and plant hunters earned their position at the front of the travelling party a long time ago.

We would be mistaken, however, to presume that plant-hunting ended with the so-called ‘golden age’ that, Dr Sandy Primrose points out that these maverick souls remain as active and important as ever, as our quest for new species for environmental and economic reasons continues at pace. Contemporary stars include Roy Lancaster and Mikinori Ogisu, who have worked together in China; Michael Wickenden, who died in Myanmar in 2016; Sue and Bleddyn Wynn-Jones of Crûg Farm Plants who have been on over 50 collecting trips and work in accordance with the Convention on Biological Diversity; and Mary Richards, a prodigious collector for Kew who worked from Tanzania until she was aged almost 90. Tom Hart Dyke and Paul Winder’s capture in Columbia by FARC guerillas in 2000 might be remembered, too.

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