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William Roxburgh Gallery

Art commissioned from Indian artists by the author of "Flora Indica; or Descriptions of Indian Plants", 1820

Choose from 92 images in our William Roxburgh collection.


Cactus indicus Featured William Roxburgh Image

Cactus indicus

Watercolour on paper, no date (late 18th century). Hand painted copy of an illustration commissioned by William Roxburgh. Roxburgh noted in his Flora Indica that this cactus was common around Calcutta, and concluded there is every reason to imagine it is a native of these countries'. These plants were probably introduced to India from the West Indies as early as the late 15th Century, initially for their fruit, and later for the dye made from cochineal insects (Dactylopius coccus) which infect these plants. The drawing includes studies of these insects, the winged male can be seen far right, the female with her protective white covering in several stages on the left. It is likely that there are actually three plant species represented on this drawing. Fig.1 is possibly Opuntia stricta/dillenii, Fig.2 Nopalea cochenillifera, and Fig.3 Opuntia tuna

© The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Erythrina indica, Willd Featured William Roxburgh Image

Erythrina indica, Willd

Watercolour on paper, no date (late 18th, early 19th century. Hand painted copy of an illustration commissioned by William Roxburgh (1751-1815). In his Flora Indica, Roxburgh describes this species as an armed tree, common over India and the Islands'. It flowers in March and April, and ripens its seed in June and July. Roxburgh also mentions that the Malays usually employed this tree to support the black pepper vine, and in this case they call it Chinkereen. The drawing has been inscribed by Roxburgh in pencil This side....['], the racemes being always horizontal, possibly referring to which way up the drawing should be viewed

© The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Adansonia digitata, Willd. (Baobab or Upside-down tree) Featured William Roxburgh Image

Adansonia digitata, Willd. (Baobab or Upside-down tree)

Watercolour on paper, no date (late 18th early 19th century). Hand painted copy of an illustration commissioned by William Roxburgh (1751-1815). In his Flora indica Roxburgh describes this plant as a tree which is very scarce in India, and probably not a native of Asia'. Roxburgh tells that in the Botanic Garden of Calcutta, where this tree blossoms in May and June, and ripens its seed in the cool season, there is a 25 years old plant of Adansonia digitata, with an irregular, short and sub-conical trunk, which is 18 feet in circumference. In a letter sent to Roxburgh the 2nd of July 1802, from Mantolle, in Sri Lanka, General Hay Macdowell notes: In my walk last night on the ruins of this once rich and extensive city, called by the natives Mande or Maddoo-ooltum, I chanced to observe a tree whose prodigious magnitude induced me to measure it...fifty feet in circumference, above six feet from the ground, the natives call it Peerig, and from what I have been able to collect, it is not indigenous here

© The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew