Some Botanists of the yesteryears

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Naveein O C

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Sep 8, 2008, 4:59:18 AM9/8/08
to indiantreepix
Dear Friends,
 
Besides Trees I think it would be worthwhile to read about Botanists of the yesteryears also,
This is a discussion thread from the Tamilbirds discussion group which I am sharing with you all,
 


Regards

Naveein

--- On Mon, 9/8/08, Theodore Baskaran <thill...@yahoo.co.uk> wrote:
From: Theodore Baskaran <thill...@yahoo.co.uk>
Subject: [Tamilbirds] Re: The lost orchid
To: Tamil...@yahoogroups.co.in
Date: Monday, September 8, 2008, 12:20 PM

Henry Noltie has written an interesting article in the current GEO
on the botanist Wight. The article also carries some rare botanical
paintings. Quite a few plants have been names after Wight. Theodore
Baskaran

--- In Tamilbirds@yahoogro ups.co.in, "vsram2003" <vsram2003@. ..>
wrote:
>
> This is an interesting article on a botanist of Southern India. I
did
> some internet search and found that one of the books (Reminiscences
of
> Life & Sport in Southern India (London: W.H. Allen & Co., 1890) by
> Heber Drury is available for download at:
> http://openlibrary. org/a/OL1171971A
> Santharam
>
> ------------ --------- --------- ---------
> Biodiversity
>
> Biodiversity
>
> The lost orchid
>
> S. THEODORE BASKARAN
>
> There has been renewed interest in the early botanists of British
> India. The story of Heber Drury and the rare orchid named after him.
>
>
> When I received an invitation for dinner with Botanical historian
> Henry Noltie of the Royal Botanical Garden, Edinburgh, I was
> enthusiastic. I have heard about his research, particularly the
> three-volume work on Robert Wight who, in 1836, trekked around the
> Palani ranges and documented the botanical wealth of the area. In
> recent years, there has been a renewed curiosity in the early
> botanists of British India and Noltie's work on the subject is
> considered seminal. My own interest in meeting him was to learn
about
> a British botanist named Drury. Over dinner Henry talked about
Drury.
>
> Heber Drury (1819-72) was a Colonel in the Madras Light Infantry
> stationed in Travancore. He wrote the Handbook of Indian Flora (3
> volumes) and the Useful Plants of India. Incidentally, the Handbook
is
> dedicated to the Prince of Travancore, showing that he was not the
> usual, snobbish Raj Officer of that era. The British government was
> interested in knowing the commercial potential of the plants in
their
> tropical colonies while naturalists like Drury were interested in
the
> plants as subjects of their study. As an adjunct to this study, a
> school of botanical painting developed in South India. We have a
> volume of drawings of grasses made by a "native" artist whom Drury
> employed while in Travancore. His autobiography, Reminiscences of
Life
> & Sport in Southern India (London: W.H. Allen & Co., 1890) provides
a
> window to the natural history of the period.
> Claim to fame
>
> Drury's another claim to fame is that a rare orchid of the Western
> Ghats has been christened after him. Paphiopedilum drury is endemic
to
> the Agasthya ranges near Tirunelveli, better known as the Courtallam
> ranges, almost at the southern end of the Western Ghats. This area
has
> now been recognised as one of the hot spots of biodiversity in the
> world. Incredibly rich in life forms, these hills traditionally are
> known for herbs and medicinal plants. The orchid we are talking
about
> grows in the grassy slopes of these ranges and blooms in May/June, a
> yellow-coloured flower 5-7 cm in size. There was another G.D. Drury,
> collector of Tiruvelveli, whom earlier I had mistaken to be the
orchid
> Drury.
>
> Known among orchid fanciers as "the Lost Orchid", now it is a much
> sought after collector's item. I have only seen a pressed specimen
in
> the herbarium of the Botanical survey of India, Coimbatore. There
was
> an orchid fancier in Bangalore who had two plants but would not
trust
> me enough to let me photograph them. What is special about this
plant
> is that it is one of the relict species; that is, species found in
the
> Himalayas and next only in the Western Ghats but nowhere in between.
> The red Rhododendron is another relict plant. Among mammals you have
> the tahr — the Nilgiri tahr here and the Himalayan tahr there — as
> relict species and among birds the Grey -headed flycatcher as relict
> species.
> Rallying point
>
> The lost orchid came to symbolise the disappearing floral wealth and
> the amazing biodiversity of the Western Ghats. To raise money to
save
> such rare botanical species of the world, the plant artist Stone
chose
> to paint the Lost Orchid and sold it to raise money.
>
> When I first learnt about this orchid in the early 1970s, I was
naïve
> enough to think that all you have to do is to walk around in this
area
> and you will see the plant. I went searching for it. In Courtallam,
I
> took the Puckle's path, which goes along the Chithar right up to the
> awe-inspring Thenaruvi (Honey falls). Beyond that I walked up to
> Paradesi cave (because it is near Paradise Estate) which contains an
> inscription yet to be deciphered. That was a memorable trek. But I
did
> not see the orchid. It was only later I learnt that this is a plant
of
> grasslands and that this terrestrial orchid is noticeable only
during
> the flowering season. This belongs to a variety popularly referred
to
> as "Lady's slipper orchid" after the shoe-shaped flower
> paphilopedilum. There are quite a few of this variety in the
Himalayas
> and the Northeast but only one in Western Ghats.
>
> Quite a number of the books on natural history written during the
Raj
> era are getting resurrected, some through reprint and some through
an
> electronic form on the Net. This is providing us with new insights
> about the pioneers, their work and the incredible wealth of wildlife
> in those years.
>
> S. THEODORE BASKARAN
>
> There has been renewed interest in the early botanists of British
> India. The story of Heber Drury and the rare orchid named after him.
>
>
> When I received an invitation for dinner with Botanical historian
> Henry Noltie of the Royal Botanical Garden, Edinburgh, I was
> enthusiastic. I have heard about his research, particularly the
> three-volume work on Robert Wight who, in 1836, trekked around the
> Palani ranges and documented the botanical wealth of the area. In
> recent years, there has been a renewed curiosity in the early
> botanists of British India and Noltie's work on the subject is
> considered seminal. My own interest in meeting him was to learn
about
> a British botanist named Drury. Over dinner Henry talked about
Drury.
>
> Heber Drury (1819-72) was a Colonel in the Madras Light Infantry
> stationed in Travancore. He wrote the Handbook of Indian Flora (3
> volumes) and the Useful Plants of India. Incidentally, the Handbook
is
> dedicated to the Prince of Travancore, showing that he was not the
> usual, snobbish Raj Officer of that era. The British government was
> interested in knowing the commercial potential of the plants in
their
> tropical colonies while naturalists like Drury were interested in
the
> plants as subjects of their study. As an adjunct to this study, a
> school of botanical painting developed in South India. We have a
> volume of drawings of grasses made by a "native" artist whom Drury
> employed while in Travancore. His autobiography, Reminiscences of
Life
> & Sport in Southern India (London: W.H. Allen & Co., 1890) provides
a
> window to the natural history of the period.
> Claim to fame
>
> Drury's another claim to fame is that a rare orchid of the Western
> Ghats has been christened after him. Paphiopedilum drury is endemic
to
> the Agasthya ranges near Tirunelveli, better known as the Courtallam
> ranges, almost at the southern end of the Western Ghats. This area
has
> now been recognised as one of the hot spots of biodiversity in the
> world. Incredibly rich in life forms, these hills traditionally are
> known for herbs and medicinal plants. The orchid we are talking
about
> grows in the grassy slopes of these ranges and blooms in May/June, a
> yellow-coloured flower 5-7 cm in size. There was another G.D. Drury,
> collector of Tiruvelveli, whom earlier I had mistaken to be the
orchid
> Drury.
>
> Known among orchid fanciers as "the Lost Orchid", now it is a much
> sought after collector's item. I have only seen a pressed specimen
in
> the herbarium of the Botanical survey of India, Coimbatore. There
was
> an orchid fancier in Bangalore who had two plants but would not
trust
> me enough to let me photograph them. What is special about this
plant
> is that it is one of the relict species; that is, species found in
the
> Himalayas and next only in the Western Ghats but nowhere in between.
> The red Rhododendron is another relict plant. Among mammals you have
> the tahr — the Nilgiri tahr here and the Himalayan tahr there — as
> relict species and among birds the Grey -headed flycatcher as relict
> species.
>
> Rallying point
>
> The lost orchid came to symbolise the disappearing floral wealth and
> the amazing biodiversity of the Western Ghats. To raise money to
save
> such rare botanical species of the world, the plant artist Stone
chose
> to paint the Lost Orchid and sold it to raise money.
>
> When I first learnt about this orchid in the early 1970s, I was
naïve
> enough to think that all you have to do is to walk around in this
area
> and you will see the plant. I went searching for it. In Courtallam,
I
> took the Puckle's path, which goes along the Chithar right up to the
> awe-inspring Thenaruvi (Honey falls). Beyond that I walked up to
> Paradesi cave (because it is near Paradise Estate) which contains an
> inscription yet to be deciphered. That was a memorable trek. But I
did
> not see the orchid. It was only later I learnt that this is a plant
of
> grasslands and that this terrestrial orchid is noticeable only
during
> the flowering season. This belongs to a variety popularly referred
to
> as "Lady's slipper orchid" after the shoe-shaped flower
> paphilopedilum. There are quite a few of this variety in the
Himalayas
> and the Northeast but only one in Western Ghats.
>
> Quite a number of the books on natural history written during the
Raj
> era are getting resurrected, some through reprint and some through
an
> electronic form on the Net. This is providing us with new insights
> about the pioneers, their work and the incredible wealth of wildlife
> in those years.
>
> http://www.thehindu .com/mag/ 2008/09/07/ stories/20080907 50300700. htm
>

 
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Anand Kumar Bhatt

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Sep 8, 2008, 9:55:17 AM9/8/08
to Naveein O C, indiantreepix, J.M. Garg
we should be clear about the objectives of this site. One should also consider that this caters to professionals as well as amateurs like me who have not got any academic training in Botany. The age group of the members should also differ substantially. Any such decision  on as suggested by you has to be judged in the light of these .
Best wishes,
akbhatt

J.M. Garg

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Sep 8, 2008, 10:30:53 AM9/8/08
to Anand Kumar Bhatt, Naveein O C, indiantreepix
Wonderful story of "The Lost Orchid"!!!

--
With regards,
J.M.Garg
"We often ignore the beauty around us"
For learning about our trees & plants, please visit/ join Google e-group (Indiantreepix) http://groups.google.co.in/group/indiantreepix?hl=en
For my Birds, Butterflies, Trees, Landscape pictures etc., visit http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Special:Contributions/J.M.Garg
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