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Hunting for Plants

Articles: Hunting for Plants

Alice Coats. 1960. The Plant Hunters. New York: McGraw Hill.

Tyler Whittle. 1970. The Plant Hunters. Philadelphia: Chilton Book Company.

BJ Healey. 1975. The Plant Hunters. New York: Scribners Sons.

Charles Lyte. 1983. The Plant Hunters. London: Orbis Publishing.
Sitting at my desk, I am surrounded by four books, each entitled The Plant Hunters. Apart from the obvious issues of copyright (four books with the identical title), the fact that all were written by English people, and the common ground of the topic, the variation in approach and content is remarkable.

The possibilities for exploring this subject are limitless. The life history of just one of the brave and adventurous plant explorers would easily fill a book. The explorers were Western, mostly from the United Kingdom, the United States, France, Holland, and Russia. Italians, Austrians, Germans, and a few Spanish and Portuguese scientists also joined in the pursuit.

Although the connection may seem remote, politics were just as central to the botanical and horticultural endeavors of the past as they are today. The center of gravity for many years was the United Kingdom, which dominated world politics in the...

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