Title: Early New Zealand Botanical Art

Author: F. Bruce Sampson

Publication details: Reed Methuen, 1985, Auckland

Digital publication kindly authorised by: F. Bruce Sampson

Part of: New Zealand Texts Collection

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Early New Zealand Botanical Art


The Hookers, father and son, both made significant contributions to New Zealand botany. Sir William Jackson Hooker (1785-1865) included descriptions and illustrations of New Zealand plants in books he wrote and in journals he edited, including Icones Plantarum and Curtis's Botanical Magazine. He introduced many of our plants into Kew Gardens during his tenure there. His son, Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker (1817-1911), continued this tradition when he became editor of the above two periodicals and director of Kew. Furthermore, Joseph Hooker's The Botany of the Antarctic VoyageFlora Novae-Zelandiae (1852,1855) was the first comprehensive and illustrated account of the New Zealand flora. It was updated by his two-volume, but unillustrated, Handbook of the New Zealand Flora (1864, 1867), which remained the standard work until the appearance of Cheeseman's Manual in 1906 (see chapter XV).

Their overall contributions to botany were enormous. William Hooker turned eleven "ill-kept" acres of royal gardens at Kew into a 300-acre public garden, "the most beautiful in the world", and the world's leading centre for botanical taxonomic research and the propagation and dissemination of economically important plants. Joseph Hooker became the most highly honoured botanist in history. He was also a physician, naturalist, artist, geographer and explorer who, it has been written, was the first European to climb to over 19,000 feet (5,800 metres), which he accomplished when in the Himalayas. He explored all the world's continents and wrote and often illustrated a vast number of papers and books. He was the pioneer and leading exponent in his day of the science of plant geography.