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History Gallery

Choose from 376 images in our History collection.


Amorphophallus titanum flowering, 1901 Featured History Image

Amorphophallus titanum flowering, 1901

The Titan arum, Amorphophallus titanum is known as the corpse flower in its native Indonesia because of the rancid smell, described by Curtis's Botanical magazine as a mixture of rotten fish and burnt sugar, which it emits as it flowers. It caused a sensation when it first bloomed at Kew in June 1889; the odour attracted "many bluebottle flies" and visitors were greatly disturbed by the smell. The artist Matilda Smith, who recorded the first flowering endured many hours painting it and consequently felt ill. The inflorescence can grow to more than 2.5m and is surrounded by a single purple leaf. These photographs were taken over a four-day period during a later blooming in 1901

© RBG KEW

Kewites and wives Kampala, Uganda, 1923 Featured History Image

Kewites and wives Kampala, Uganda, 1923

This group photograph of "Kewites and wives" was taken in Kampala, Uganda, in 1923. Second from the right: John Davenport Snowden, with his wife, centre. Arthur Marshall (back row far right) was the pony boy in Kew Gardens but after attending lectures he obtained the Kew certificate and was elected honorary member of the Ugandan Branch; his wife is seated in front of him. The third woman, Dorothy Halkerston, sits in front of her husband Donald Halkerston, chair of the Ugandan Branch of the Kew Guild

© RBG KEW

Seedlings of Cinchona succirubra, India, 1861 Featured History Image

Seedlings of Cinchona succirubra, India, 1861

Seedlings of Cinchona succirubra, photographed on arrival in Ootacamund, southern India, 9 April 1861. Collected by Richard Spruce in Ecuador, the plants were received by WIlliam McIvor, a former Kew gardener, who was superintendent of the Botanic Garden in Ootacamund, where he successfully cultivated the red bark trees. Extracts of the bark of Cinchona produced quinine, a malaria medicine

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