In the Footsteps of Augustine Henry and His Chinese Plant Collectors
by Seamus O’Brien
Augustine Henry (1857-1930) is one of the most famous of the pioneering plant hunters to have traveled to China during the latter part of the nineteenth century, and he played a key role in establishing the basis for our present knowledge of the flora of China. His account of the destruction of great tracts of China’s forests prompted later plant hunters like Ernest Henry Wilson, George Forrest, Frank Kingdon Ward, and William Purdom to venture to China in the name of plant exploration and introduction.
In the Footsteps of Augustine Henry tells the fascinating story of his life and work, and documents expeditions undertaken by a dedicated team of botanists and horticulturists in the 1990s to revisit Henry’s routes, many of which were in danger of being flooded with the installation of the Three Gorges Dam across the Yangtze River.
Henry had a long-standing association with the Arnold Arboretum. He met and instructed Ernest Henry Wilson during collecting trips in China, and maintained correspondence with Wilson, Charles Sprague Sargent, and Alfred Rehder over the years.