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History Gallery

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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

Men laden with Brick tea for Tibet Featured History Image

Men laden with Brick tea for Tibet

Tachienlu (now Kanding), West Sichuan, China : Men laden with Brick tea for Tibet. One man's load weighs 317 lbs, the other's 298 lbs. Men carry this tea as far as Tachien-lu, accomplishing 6 miles per day over difficult roads. Photograph taken by the plant-hunter Ernest Wilson, July 30, 1908

© RBG KEW

1908, 20th Century, Archival, Archive, Black And White, Border, Botanic Garden, Botanical Garden, British Empire, Carry, Carrying, China, Dardo, Dartsedo, Empire, Ernest Wilson, History, Hunter, Kanding, Kew Gardens, Kew Library, Kucheng Township, Load, Loaded, Men, Mono, Monochrome, Plant, Plant Hunter, Planthunter, Porter, Porters, Sichuan, Strength, Strongylodon Macrobotrys, Szechuan, Szechwan, Tachien Lu, Tachienlu, Tatsienlu, Tea, Tea Bricks, Tibet, Transporting, West

The Rhododendron Dell, Kew Gardens Featured History Image

The Rhododendron Dell, Kew Gardens

19th century photograph of The Rhododendron Dell, Kew Gardens. Originally Capability Brown's "Hollow Walk" it was created in 1773 and planted with rhododendrons in 1850. In 1911 Ernest Wilson's rhododendrons were also added. Today, the dell is the only surviving piece of Capability Brown's landscaping of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

© RBG KEW