The Himalayan landscape Hooker travelled through on his plant hunting expedition, 1847-1851 During his Himalayan Expedition Hooker made many sketches to document the journey. This is a watercolour by Walter Hood Fitch adapted from Hooker's original sketch. Dated 1848, the sketch is believed to be the first image of Everest by a westerner
Idealised portrait of Hooker in India, by William Tayler c.1850 Here Hooker is surrounded by attendants presenting him with plants, the dramatic Himalayan landscape behind them. Hooker did employ local people as plant collectors but he also hunted for plants himself, often in very challenging terrain.
Rhododendron grande (or argenteum) specimen collected by Hooker in India This specimen, collected by Hooker in Sikkim in 1848, remains in the Kew herbarium for botanists to consult. Before it was collected by Hooker this species of Rhododendron was unknown to science.
Illustration from The Rhododendrons of Sikkim-Himalaya This beautifully illustrated publication contains paintings of all the new Rhododendrons collected by Hooker during his expedition - over 30 species. The book was incredibly popular and created a craze for Rhododendrons in British gardens.
Hooker's hand drawn map of Sikkim Hooker was the first European to be allowed into Sikkim and so he made a map of the territory. This extract shows Mt Kanchenjunga - 3rd highest peak in the world - and the closed border with Tibet. It is very accurate and forms the basis of modern maps.
A Clinometer used by Hooker for mapping and navigation during his expeditions Just one of the instruments used by Hooker to take observations for his map of Sikkim. Much of this work had to be done in secret as the Rajah of Sikkim was concerned a map of his territory would be exploited by the British military.
Joseph Hooker's Tibetan teapot Whilst in the Himalayas Hooker discovered that the Tibetan people had a very particular way of making tea using copper pots such as this. He sent this one back for Kew's Economic Botany collection.
Poison Arrows collected by Hooker in Sylhet These arrows were used in blowpipes by the Manipuri people of Sylhet (now part of Bangladesh). The tips were coated with a poison made from aconite roots. Hooker was particularly interested in these everyday uses for plants.
Letter written by Hooker in India with cartoon image of his dog Hooker's letters are an important record of his botanical and geographical work. However, some are also very personal. This letter was written to his sister, in it he jokes that the Tibetan mastiff he adopted has learnt to write letters.
Hooker's travel notebook, India 1848 The archive holds many of Hooker's pocket sized travel notebooks in which he recorded his observations and sometimes did illustrations in the field. This image is of the view over the border into Tibet, then still a closed country.