Henry Ridley and rubber tree, Singapore
Extension of original cutting on an old Para rubber tree, Hevea brasiliensis - Henry Ridley ('Rubber Ridley') and rubber tree, tapped for latex. HNR/1/2/6/3 Henry Ridley was director of the Singapore Botanic Garden from 1888 to 1911. Through his expertise and ecouragement, and with rubber trees that had been trees sent from Kew in 1877, the Malaysian rubber plantation industry was established. Today most of the world's rubber comes from plantations in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.
© RBG KEW
Portrait of William Townsend Aiton (1766 - 1849)
Lithograph portrait of William Townsend Aiton (1766-1849), portrait, lithograph by L. Poyot, printed by C. Graf. The handwritten note attached to bottom of the portrait reads: The small parcel accompanying this note is enclosed for Dr. Hooker with my kindest regards, W.T. Aiton. Royal Gardens Kew, 7 Octr 1829. Aiton was Head Gardener at Kew from 1793 to 1841, and also appointed Director General of all royal gardens by King George IV. He was involved in the production of Hortus Kewensis, 1810 to 1813.
© RBG Kew
Robert Fortune (1812-1880) born in Berwickshire, Scotland, was a botanist and plant-hunter best known for smuggling tea plants out of China at the behest of the East India Company. Following the Treaty of Nanjing in 1842, Fortune was awarded the position of the Society's Collector in China, visiting the region on four occasions, remaining there for two or three years each time. In 1846, he published his journals as 'Three Years' Wanderings in the Northern Provinces of China'. In 1848, he was tasked by the East India Company with collecting tea plants to establish plantations in India, breaking the Chinese monopoly. Disguising himself as a Chinese merchant, he travelled to the remote Fujian, Guangdong, and Jiangsu provinces, regions rarely explored by Westerners, beyond the permissible day's journey from the agreed European treaty ports. The ruling Chinese government had outlawed the purchase of tea plants, but Fortune was able to coordinate the shipment of more than 20,000 plants and seedlings, in Wardian cases, to the Himalayas, effectively initiating the tea industry in India.
© RBG KEW