Tag Archives: South Africa

Burchell at the Cape

The last post looked at William Burchell, the son of a London nurseryman who after emigrating to St Helena in 1805, began the process of cataloguing its flora and fauna and setting up a botanic garden. Frustrated by the attitude … Continue reading

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William Burchell and St Helena

St Helena is one of the most remote places on Earth, 4,000 kilometres (2,500 miles) east of Rio de Janeiro and  almost 2000 kilometres (1,210 miles) from the nearest bit of  the African coast.  It’s probably most famous for being Napoleon’s place of exile. … Continue reading

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Welwitschia mirabilis: “the ugliest plant in creation”?

What a mouthful that is! Even worse when you realise it’s the Latin name of a bizarre plant ‘discovered’ by a man born in the Austrian Empire of Slovak origin, who worked for the Portuguese monarchy in one of their African … Continue reading

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The further adventures of Francis Masson – the man with itchy feet

Last week’s post finished with Francis Masson returning to Kew in 1775 after a  successful plant collecting expedition to the Cape of Good Hope.  But he was clearly a man with itchy feet so the following year he was off again … Continue reading

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How Francis Masson found the world’s oldest pot plant…and a few other things

“The country is encompassed on all sides with very high mountains, almost perpendicular, consisting of bare rocks, without the last appearance of vegetation; and upon the whole, has a most melancholy effect on the mind.”   So wrote Francis Masson … Continue reading

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