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Kew publishes world-leading book on Erythronium by Kew horticulturist

Leading Sussex horticulturalist Chris Clennett has just written a book widely regarded as the world authority on its subject - Erythronium, a genus of 29 species of bulbous perennials, published by Kew.
Photo of Chris Clennett
Dr Clennett with his book in front of one of the tulip trees at Wakehurst

Seven years of research, sometimes in less than hospitable locations around the globe, lie behind Dr Chris Clennett’s new book - The Genus Erythronium: A Botanical Magazine Monograph. By day Chris works in the beautiful botanic gardens of Wakehurst Place at Ardingly, but to write the learned tome on Erythronium he had to climb remote mountain ranges in California and even follow in the path of grizzly bears.

As part of his PhD studies, the East Grinstead botanist spent weeks hunting the 29 wild species of the plant to complete his doctorate and the subsequent book which grew from it. He tracked down seven during his plant-hunting trip, hampered because different species grow at different times of the year.

Dr Clennett, 56, has worked at Kew’s country estate for 20 years of a distinguished horticultural career. Chris says:

'I have a small garden at home in East Grinstead, where my wife Margaret regularly has to remind me that we don’t have that much space – I can’t grow the same sort of trees and shrubs I do at Wakehurst! But I have space to grow Erythronium and have come to love these beautiful bulbs. The plants are found in forests and meadows in warm regions of the Northern Hemisphere.'

Some of the book’s photographs were taken during the three-week visit to Oregon and California.

'Seeing my photographs of wild Erythronium in print brings back lovely memories of plant hunting in the USA. As we drove south from Oregon, having successfully found wild Erythronium, the tulip trees were in flower in the warmth of California. Our tulip trees are in full bloom at Wakehurst at the moment, reminding me of the joys of studying and working with plants.'

This new book is the latest addition to Kew Publishing’s highly respected Botanical Magazine Monograph series, a unique blend of knowledge on the research, cultivation and conservation of cultivated plants. The series is based on the tradition established by Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, the longest-running botanical periodical in the world, continuously published since 1787.

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