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Robert Fortune

(1812—1880) traveller and botanist


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(1812–80), Scottish plant collector in China and Japan who trained at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, before moving south to the (Royal) Horticultural Society Garden at Chiswick. Following the 1842 Treaty of Nanking (Nanjing) and the opening up of trade with China, Fortune was selected on the society's behalf to journey to China collecting plants. For three years from 1845 he visited the treaty ports along the coast purchasing material from gardens and nurseries. Subsequently he undertook two further expeditions on behalf of the Honourable East India Company collecting seed and tea plants which, with the help of the newly invented Wardian Case, helped lay the foundation of the Indian tea industry. His fourth and last journey (1860–2) was mainly to Japan where he collected among others Cryptomeria japonica and Dicentra spectabilis. From China he introduced some 190 new plants including Trachycarpus fortunei.

From The Oxford Companion to the Garden in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Lifestyle, Home, and Garden.


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