Ernest Wilson - explorer and plant hunter
- Written by Susan Gordon
Trips for the Arnold Arboretum
That same year, in early December 1906, Professor Charles Sargent of the Arnold Arboretum in Boston asked Wilson to make a third trip to China, this time on their behalf. A formal agreement was drawn up on 27 December and from 1907 to 1909 Wilson explored western Hupeh and western Szechuan.
Wilson's success as a collector for the Arnold Arboretum in these areas between 1907 and 1909 led to a second Chinese expedition for them in 1910, this time to collect cones and conifer seeds in the central and southwestern parts of China.
It was during this adventure that nearly 7,000 bulbs of Lilium regale, the regal lily, were collected and introduced to the West by Wilson.
This would, however, prove to be one of his most dangerous plant hunts: when he was travelling between Sungpan and Chentu in September 1910, his sedan chair was caught in a landslide. Wilson broke his leg in two places in the accident and was lamed, suffering from what he referred to as his ‘lily limp' for the rest of his life.