The history of orchid research at Kew
Orchids have been cultivated at Kew for more than two centuries, and systematic work on them dates from the time of Joseph Banks at the close of the 18th Century. When William J. Hooker became Kew’s first Director in 1841, he greatly expanded the living collection and supervised the description and illustration of new species in Curtis’s Botanical Magazine and A Century of Orchidaceous Plants. His preserved collections and those of George Bentham formed the core of the Herbarium, later supplemented by the valuable orchid herbarium of John Lindley, often called the “father of orchid taxonomy”. Lindley’s collection comprises about 7,000 specimens, most of them types of new species. Succeeding his father as Director in 1865, Joseph Dalton Hooker edited Curtis’s Botanical Magazine and continued to describe new orchid species and develop Kew’s Orchid Herbarium. He published Genera Plantarum: Orchideae with George Bentham in 1883 and was author of the orchid part for the Flora of British India.
|Sir Joseph Banks||William J. Hooker||John Lindley|
Robert Allen Rolfe, the first curator of the Orchid Herbarium (1888-1924), founded The Orchid Review, the longest surviving orchid journal, and co-authored the first catalogue of artificial orchid hybrids. He also wrote the orchid accounts for Flora Capensis and the Flora of Tropical Africa. He was succeeded in 1926 by Victor Summerhayes. Summerhayes developed Kew’s expertise in Old World orchids and was the author of the orchid account for the Flora of West Tropical Africa and the first volume of that of the Flora of Tropical East Africa. His book, Wild Orchids of Britain, (New Naturalist, 1951) is a classic.
|Robert A. Rolfe||Victor Summerhayes|