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
Medusagyne oppositifolia. Medusagyne oppositifolia, the jellyfish tree, is a critically endangered tree endemic to the island of Mahé, the Seychelles. It is the only member of the Medusagyne genus of the Ochnaceae family of tropical trees and shrubs. The plant gets its common name from the distinctive jellyfish-like shape of its dehisced fruit.
© RBG Kew/John Dransfield
Cochineal beetle harvest, by Eadweard Muybridge
Dactylopius coccus, cochineal beetles being harvested from Opuntia cacti, Antigua, West Indies, for the production of carminic acid used in the carmine dye, cochineal. The mode of gathering cochineal in Antigua,by Eadweard Muybridge (purchased 1876 by Joseph Hooker for Kew).
© RBG KEW
Antigua, Archival, Archive, Beetles, Black And White, Botanic Garden, Botanical Garden, British Empire, Cacti, Cactus, Carmine, Carminic Acid, Cochineal, Colorant, Colourant, Crimson, Dacylopius Coccus, Dfemale, Dye, Eadweard Muybridge, Economic Botany, Empire, History, Kew Gardens, Kew Library, Labourers, Mono, Monochrome, Opuntia, Red, Scarlet, West Indies, Women, Workers