Bridging the West and East to Preserve Biodiversity

by Jon Hetman, Director of External Relations & Communications
August 22, 2019

Asia Dig Deeper

Bridging the West and East to Preserve Biodiversity

The importance of Asia’s plant diversity and its relationship to the flora of North America has been a focus of the Arboretum from the beginning. The pioneering theories of disjunction by Harvard botanist Asa Gray were championed by Founding Director Charles Sprague Sargent, who launched the Arboretum’s historic work in botanical exploration by contracting William Clark to collect plants in Japan in 1876. The Arboretum was the first Harvard affiliate to engage with China, beginning with a 1905 expedition by J.G. Jack. Subsequent trips to China, Korea, and Japan by renowned Arboretum explorer Ernest Wilson and others introduced many Asian plant species to the Arboretum and to the West, and contributed to scholarship including the Flora of China. In addition to exploration, Asia Programs at the Arboretum continue through numerous partnerships and research exchanges, including NACPEC the Shiu-Ying Hu Award.

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