Author(s): Florence Thinard
'The greatest pleasure of naturalists (understated by certain utilitarians) is to discover new species, to point to new islands on the map of nature, and to populate continents that seem to be deserts' - Richard Spruce, 1851. This splendid book traces the journeys of more than 60 pioneering botanists who explored the unknown world and collected thousands of unusual plants. Many were celebrated at home in Europe and England. Others were working in obscurity to fulfill their own desires and obsessions. But every one of these explorers made important finds, collecting and preserving unique and valuable plants and often establishing them in cultivation back in their homelands. Each spread in the book describes the journey and the naturalist - with a map tracing the routes taken, on the left. Facing is the actual plant collected, complete with notes, seeds, pollen, and identifying documents, often in the botanist's own hand. The stories are packed with detail, describing the theories of the day, the difficulty of raising money, and traversing jungles and forests.But each is coloured by the excitement of discovering orchids, trees, teas, flowering roses and acanthus, ferns, strange bulbs, and mountain flowers. The design is accompanied by 80 maps, 150 photographs, drawings and engravings. All work to reproduce the spirit of the quest and the discovery of plants.
Florence Thinard has a degree in history and international relations from the Institute of Political Studies in Paris. She worked in tourism in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa, before becoming a journalist. She has written or co-authored more than 30 books, and lives in Toulouse, France. Yannick Fourie is a professional nature photographer. His images have appeared in more than 15 books. He lives in France.