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Ernest Wilson - explorer and plant hunter

Article Index

  1. Ernest Wilson - explorer and plant hunter
  2. Early life and training
  3. Wilson's first trip to China
  4. Second trip to China
  5. Trips for the Arnold Arboretum
  6. Publications
  7. Further trips
  8. Sources
  9. All Pages


After spending several months in hospital in Chentu, Wilson returned to Boston from China in March 1911 and began working at the Arnold Arboretum, assisting Professor Sargent, Alfred Rehder and others, for the next six years, with the compilation of a three-volume text, Plantae Wilsonianae.

During this period he also wrote a large number of his own botanical and horticultural articles and a book, A Naturalist in Western China (1913), in which he describes all four visits to China, those for Veitch and those for the Arnold Arboretum.

Wilson often carried a Sanderson plate camera and portable dark room on his plant-hunting exercises, hence the book was richly illustrated with his own photographs. These recorded for posterity not only the local flora and fauna, but also the local people, places and customs, and are remarkable as social, as well as scientific, visual documents.