Fagus longipetiolata China[Title from recto of mount.]
Alternate Title: View in woods
Photograph by Ernest Henry Wilson (1876-1930, American, English)
Hubei Sheng, China
Ernest Henry Wilson (1876-1930) was the furthest traveled of all the Arnold Arboretum’s plant explorers and collectors of the early twentieth century. It is not an overstatement to credit Wilson with bringing Eastern Asian botany, history, and culture to widespread interest in western society, nor to exaggerate the introduction of thousands of Asian plant species to western gardens.
This photograph was among hundreds taken by Wilson during his Third Expedition to China (this was his first under the official aegis of The Arnold Arboretum). “A good set of photographs are really about as important as anything you can bring back with you,” Sargent wrote Wilson as he prepared for his journey while living in England. Sargent insisted Wilson take on this journey and on all that would follow, a large format Sanderson whole-plate field camera capable of recording both great detail and broad perspectives without distortion. Wilson turned out to be a considerably talented photographer–and not only has his work endured but it’s also remarkable when you consider the double benefit of The Arboretum’s expeditions: botanical collecting along with visual documentation of cultural landscapes.
Beech trees [Fagus spp.] are also our May 2017 Tree of the Month at the Arnold Arboretum. The trunks on beech trees are very distinctive. Their thin bark stretches around massive boles on mature trees. It is one of the few trees that retain a smooth, silvery-gray bark throughout their long life. This particular species [F. longipetiolata] is mostly found in southern and eastern China and in Vietnam.
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