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

VI — Sir William and Sir Joseph Hooker

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Sir William and Sir Joseph Hooker

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.

William Jackson Hooker

William Hooker, the son of a merchant's clerk, was born in Norwich on 6 July 1785. He inherited a love of plants and books from his father and his mother's artistic abilities. While still a youth he became interested in insects, birds and plants. At the age of twenty he became known in natural history circles, when he discovered for the first time in Britain a curious moss, Buxbaumia aphylla. It was suggested that he show it to Dawson Turner, a page 69 Yarmouth banker and botanist, whose protégé he became. A year later he was, on Turner's sponsorship, elected a fellow of the Linnean Society, almost the youngest ever admitted. In 1806, armed with introductions from Dawson Turner and others, he went to London and met Sir Joseph Banks. In those days jobs for naturalists depended largely on the patronage of prominent people, and Banks had a high reputation for being able to sum people up and recommend "the right person for the right job". William Hooker was kindly received by Banks, who was very impressed with his knowledge and enthusiasm. Sir Joseph Banks had a large library and herbarium, which he made freely available to others. By the time William Hooker met him, Banks had become botanical and horticultural adviser to the Royal Gardens at Kew.

The visit with Banks inspired William Hooker to become a botanist. He decided to write a book on a group of liverworts (plants on a similar evolutionary level to mosses, though not as well known to the layperson), the British Jungermanniae. William had, on reaching twenty-one, come into an inheritance from his maternal grandfather and could devote himself full-time to botanical interests. Progress on the British Jungermanniae was slow. It eventually appeared in parts at six-monthly intervals, the first in 1812 and the last in 1816. His son Joseph described it as "the most beautiful of all my father's works, in point of the drawing, analyses and engraving of the plates". In it 197 species (some named for the first time) were described and illustrated in colour. One reason for its delayed appearance was that Dawson Turner soon discovered what a fine artist William Hooker was. Turner was engaged in writing a history of British seaweeds {Historia Fu coruni) and whenever possible he invited William to be a house guest and make drawings for his book. Of the 258 plates in the four volumes of Turner's Historia Fucorum, 234 were by Hooker. Mea Allan, in her delightful, scholarly and very readable book The Hookers of Kew (1967), writes: "Looking at William Hooker's paintings of these seaweeds it is hardly believable that they are not actual specimens glued on the pages. Instinctively one touches them, to feel the texture of the once-live plant! So real they are, description is hardly necessary." Yet Turner made no acknowledgement of Hooker's assistance. Only the small inscription "W.J. H. Esqr. delt'." indicates his involvement.

William's visits to the Turner household in Yarmouth did have their rewards, for in June 1815, aged twenty-nine, he married Dawson Turner's eldest daughter, Maria, when she was sixteen. Even before William Hooker married his daughter, Dawson Turner treated him like a son. This had its disadvantages, for his financial advice to William led to several disasters. William was anxious to explore the plants of distant lands, but Dawson Turner actively discouraged this, partly, it seems, to avoid losing the services of such a talented artist. Hooker had nevertheless managed, in 1809, through the offices of Sir Joseph Banks, to take part in an expedition to Iceland on the Margaret and Anne. It was an exciting trip, complete with page 70 a bloodless revolution in Iceland, and near the start of the return voyage the Margaret and Anne (with its holds packed with flammable tallow) caught fire. Shortly before the powder magazine blew up, the passengers and crew were rescued by another vessel, the Orion. William's botanical collections were destroyed, but his journal was saved and this Journal of a Tour in Iceland was published in 1811 (second edition, 1813).

Ten months after their marriage, Maria and William's first son, William Dawson Hooker, was born. A little over a year later (30 June 1817), Joseph Dalton Hooker arrived. By then there were difficult economic times in England, and the brewery in which his father-in-law persuaded William to invest was losing money. William continued with his botanical work and two books on mosses appeared: Muscologia Britannica (1818), with Dr Thomas Taylor of Dublin as co-author, and the two-volume Musci Exotici (1818, 1820). The latter work included descriptions of New Zealand mosses that had been collected by Archibald Menzies at Dusky Bay during George Vancouver's voyage in 1791. Vancouver, who had been on Cook's second voyage, was in command of the Discovery, and Menzies was the ship's surgeon. A second vessel, the Chatham, was under the charge of Captain Broughton.

After the birth of a third child, Maria, in 1819, William began looking for a professional botanical position. With help in the background from Banks and others, he was appointed by the Crown to the chair of botany at Glasgow University in February 1820. In those days botany was regarded as an ancillary subject to medicine, and medicinal plants were prominently featured in the courses. William Hooker's duties included the supervision of the Glasgow Botanic Gardens. He became a brilliant lecturer, who attracted an increasing number of students. His blackboard sketches and coloured charts, an innovation in those days, were greatly admired. Even officers from a barracks three miles away began to attend his lectures. He was a keen walker and could cover sixty miles in a day, and he initiated vigorous botanical excursions for his students.

During his stay in Glasgow the number of plants in the Botanic Gardens more than doubled. His varied duties did not prevent William from building up his herbarium (which eventually comprised 1,000,000 specimens — the largest in the world), his library and extending his research. He prepared a new edition of Curtis's Flora Londinensis (1817-28), wrote a flora of Scotland, Flora Scotica (1821), and his The British Flora ran to four editions between 1830 and 1838. He became editor of Curtis's Botanical Magazine in 1826 and was its illustrator too until Walter Fitch began as artist in 1834. In 1836 William Hooker was knighted for his services to botany. During his time at Glasgow, Sir William began an intensive study of ferns. He wrote the two-volume Icones Filicum (1831) with Dr Robert Greville (1794-1866), a well-known botanist of his day, who provided the illustrations. This was available in coloured or uncoloured versions and contained an account of New Zealand plants collected by page 71 Menzies from Dusky Bay during Vancouver's voyage of 1791. Between 1838 and 1842 the twelve-part Genera Filicum appeared, with hand-coloured lithographs based on watercolours by Francis Bauer (see chapter V). Another large work, Species Filicum, "being descriptions of the known ferns, particularly of such as exist in the author's herbarium", was published in five volumes (1846-64), with uncoloured lithographs by Walter Fitch. Hooker went on to write many more books on ferns.

Sir William Hooker's greatest long-term ambition was finally realised in 1841 when he became director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. It had taken many years of delicate negotiating by Banks (who died in 1820, the year in which William Hooker moved to Glasgow) and other prominent men before the gardens were, in effect, nationalised in 1840, when their control passed from "the Board of Green Cloth to the Commissioners of Woods and Forests". Kew Gardens were in poor condition when Hooker arrived. William Hooker's achievements at Kew have been chronicled in many publications and are well summarised in Royal Botanic Gardens KewGardens for Science and Pleasure (edited by F. Nigel Hepper, 1982), which contains excellent illustrations. A measure of the increasing popularity of Kew was shown in the number of visitors. In Hooker's first year as director there were 9,000, and by 1865, the year he died, there were 500,000.

Sir William Hooker published a number of botanical journals. Some were short-lived, for example, London Journal of Botany (Hooker's London Journal of Botany), 1844-8, but one he founded, Icones Plantarum (1837), which from 1867 onwards was called Hooker's Icones Plantarum, is still being published at Kew. This journal began with the subtitle "or figures with brief descriptive characters and remarks, of new or rare plants, selected from the author's herbarium". It has much in common with Curtis's Botanical Magazine, and both journals shared editors (for example, the Hookers, Sir William Thiselton-Dyer, Sir David Prain) and artists (for example, Walter Fitch, Matilda Smith, Stella Ross-Craig, Margaret Stones). Unlike Curtis's Botanical Magazine, the plates are uncoloured. A number of New Zealand plants have been illustrated in Icones Plantarum. One of the earliest to appear was Fuchsia procumbens, the creeping fuchsia (volume 5, 1842). It has been estimated that of the 8,000 or so plates William Hooker had published, 1,800 were based on his own drawings.

Joseph Dalton Hooker

Several biographers have emphasised that William and Joseph Hooker, and their contributions to botany, are related parts of the same subject. Being the son of a renowned botanist and brought up in a botanical environment clearly had a strong influence on Joseph. He apparently inherited, from his father, physical stamina, artistic ability and a great capacity for hard work. Joseph greatly admired his father, as is evident from his eighty-eight-page article "A sketch of the life and labours of Sir William Jackson Hooker" page 72 {Annals of Botany, 1902). William Hooker had a similarly high opinion of his son and spared no effort to have him appointed assistant director of Kew (1855) and to ensure that he would succeed him as director.

Joseph was three years old when the family moved to Glasgow early in 1821 to join William, who had been there for nearly a year. By the time he was thirteen and attending Glasgow High School, he was described as a "zealous botanist". When still a child

I remember on one occasion, chat, after returning home, I built up by a heap of stones a representation of one of the mountains I had ascended, and stuck upon it specimens of the mosses I had collected on it, at heights relative to those at which I had gathered them. This was the dawn of my love for geographical botany.

At the tender age of fifteen, he entered Glasgow University and attended lectures in Latin, Greek, mathematics and philosophy. His spare time was spent in collecting insects and plants in Scotland and parts of England. He had taken part in botanical field trips led by his father long before he was a regular student. Then he embarked on a medical degree.

Plate 19 Anisotome latifolia

This member of the carrot family (Umbelliferae) is restricted to Auckland and Campbell Islands, where it was once common in moist places from sea level to mountain tops. It is now almost restricted to places inaccessible to stock. Joseph Hooker commented, "This is certainly one of the noblest plants of the natural order to which it belongs, often attaining a height of six feet, and bearing several umbels of rose-coloured or purplish flowers, each compound umbel as large as a human head. The foliage is of a deep shining green, and the whole plant emits, when bruised, an aromatic smell." There are some twelve other species of Anisotome in New Zealand.

The illustration shows "A small flowering portion of the plant, with the limb of the leaf". Figure 1, unexpanded male flower; figure 2, the same expanded; figure 3, sepals and the central, sterile ovary region of a male flower. Part of a leaf is shown, uncoloured, in the background.

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Plate 19 Anisotome latifolia Hook. f. Walter Fitch (in J. D. Hooker's Flora Antarctica)

Plate 19 Anisotome latifolia Hook. f. Walter Fitch (in J. D. Hooker's Flora Antarctica)

Plate 20 Drosera stenopetala (sundew)

This species, like all I have chosen to illustrate from The Botany of the Antarctic Voyage, was irst described by Joseph Hooker. This illustration is from Flora Novae-Zelandiae. The sundews are insectivorous plants — often growing in nitrogen deficient soils — which supplement their diet by obtaining nitrogenous compounds from insects. These are trapped on the leaves, which have sticky surfaces and long sticky hairs. Drosera stenopetala is a widely distributed species that occurs in the North Island south of latitude 40°, South Island, Stewart Island, Auckland and Campbell Islands. In the northern part of its range it is found in montane to subalpine bogs, but in the south it descends to sea level. There are six New Zealand species of Drosera (family Droseraceae), a cosmopolitan genus with about 100 species world wide. The specimen Joseph Hooker based his description on was collected by David Lyall from Preservation Inlet, at the south of the South Island.

Figure 1, flower; figure 2, petal (considerably enlarged); figure 3, stamen; figure 4, central ovary and surrounding stamens.

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Plate 20 Drosera stenopetala Hook. f. (sundew) Walter Fitch (in J. D. Hooker's Flora Novae-Zelandiae)

Plate 20 Drosera stenopetala Hook. f. (sundew) Walter Fitch (in J. D. Hooker's Flora Novae-Zelandiae)

The lectures his father gave in botany were part of the medical course, and, with a few exceptions, William Hooker's students were taking a medical degree. It does not seem as if Joseph Hooker studied medicine with the intention of becoming a doctor. It has been recorded that he only occasionally attended the dissecting room. The qualification would, however, enable him to take part, as ship's surgeon, in expeditions to various parts of the world, where he could extend his botanical interests. No sooner had he graduated in 1839, aged twenty-one, than he was able, largely through his father's efforts, to join the British Navy so that he could be employed on Captain James Clark Ross's forthcoming Antarctic Expedition.

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Plate 21 Exocarpus bidwillii

This curious, many-branched shrub looks much like a conifer when in fruit (figure 4), for the leaves are reduced to scales and the fruit has a superficial resemblance to that of, say, totara (Podocarpus Mara), with a fleshy, red aril below what looks like a black seed. What appears to be a seed in Exocarpus is, in fact, a fruit and when flowers are present (figure 3) it is obvious that the plant is not a conifer. Another curious feature of Exocarpus, which is shared by many other members of the sandalwood family (Santalaceae), is that it is a root parasite. Long roots of the plant attach themselves to the woody roots of one or more hosts and these penetrate them and absorb nourishment from the sap of the host. Host plants include mountain beech (Nothofagtis solandri var. cliffortioides), manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) and species of Dracophyllum, Hebe and a conifer, snow totara {Podocarpus nivalis). Exocarpus bidwillii is the sole New Zealand species and is confined to montane and alpine regions in the South Island mountains. The specimen that formed the basis for Joseph Hooker's description was collected by John Bidwill (1815-53) from the Wairau mountains, near Nelson. Walter Fitch did the painting and lithograph. There are twenty-five other species of Exocarpus distributed in Australia, Malaysia, Indo-China and the Pacific islands to Hawaii.

Figure 1, branch and two inflorescences of unopened flowers; figure 2, opening flower bud; figure 3, flower; figure 4, branch with a fruit (the red fleshy aril below the black fruit is morphologically the top of the flower stalk); figure 5, bisected fruit and aril; Figure 6, embryo, removed from the top of the seed. (From Flora Novae-Zelandiae)

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Plate 21 Exocarpus bidwillli Hook f. Walter Fitch (in J. D. Hooker's Flora Novae-Zelandiae)

Plate 21 Exocarpus bidwillli Hook f. Walter Fitch (in J. D. Hooker's Flora Novae-Zelandiae)

Plate 22 Knightia excelsa (rewarewa or New Zealand honeysuckle)

The painting shows nearly mature flower buds. Each flower has four, fused, petaloid, perianth segments, free only at their tips. At flowering they split apart and each becomes curled up near the base of the flower. Inside are four pollen-bearing stamens and a central carpel, which becomes the fruit. The buds are clothed with reddish-brown hairs, giving a velvety appearance, difficult to illustrate but nicely shown in this painting. Rewarewa is found in lowland and lower montane forests up to 1,000 metres in altitude throughout much of the North Island. It reaches as far south as the Marlborough Sounds in the South Island. The trees are tall, slender, spire-like and reach up to thirty metres high. Young plants have juvenile leaves longer and narrower than those found on adult plants. Rewarewa and toru (Toronia toru) are the only New Zealand members of the protea family (Proteaceae), which is abundant in Australia and South Africa.

Courtesy of the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand

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Plate 22 Knightia excelsa R. Br. (New Zealand honeysuckle or rewarewa) Martha King

Plate 22 Knightia excelsa R. Br. (New Zealand honeysuckle or rewarewa) Martha King

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The Antarctic voyage

Two ships, the Erebus and Terror, strengthened to withstand polar ice, had already taken part in previous Arctic expeditions with Ross. Each vessel had a crew of sixty-four. One of the main objects of the Antarctic expedition was to determine the South Magnetic Pole, the exact position of which was a matter of controversy at the time. Previously Captain Ross had discovered the North Magnetic Pole, and the variations between true and magnetic south were of great importance to navigators. The British Government provided £100,000 for the expedition, a very large sum then. Joseph was appointed "Assistant Surgeon and Naturalist" to the Erebus. He later wrote:

When still a child, I was very fond of Voyages and Travels; and my great delight was to sit on my grandfather's knee and look at the pictures in Cook's 'Voyages'. The one that took my fancy most was the Plate of Christmas Harbour, Kerguelen Land, with the arched rock standing out to sea, and the sailors killing penguins; and I thought I should be the happiest boy alive if ever I would see that wonderful arched rock, and knock penguins on the head. By a singular coincidence, Christmas Harbour, Kerguelen Land, was one of the very first places of interest visited by me, in the Antarctic Expedition under Sir James Ross.

The expedition lasted four years. The Erebus and Terror left England on 25 September 1839 and returned on 7 September 1843. It can be divided in three phases.

The eleven-month journey to Tasmania and from there to the Great Ice Barrier

There were stops at various islands including Madeira, the first port-of-call, then a nine-week stay at the Cape of Good Hope and on to Kerguelen Island for a nine-week stay. Joseph Hooker studied its flora intensively and increased the number of plants known there to 150, which included lichens and seaweeds. The expedition made good use of the Kerguelen "cabbage", Pringlea antiscorbutica, which Cook had found to be effective in preventing scurvy. It was abundant there and was used as the sole vegetable for the crew for four months. Joseph Hooker's Flora Antarctica contains the first published description of the Kerguelen cabbage, which, like the true cabbage, Brassica oleracea, is in the family Cruciferae. From Kerguelen Island to Tasmania they encountered atrocious weather, and one of the crew was swept overboard. After a three-month stay in Tasmania, where Joseph learnt that his brother William, a doctor, had died of yellow fever in Jamaica, the ships headed south. They visited Auckland Island, which Joseph had time to thoroughly botanise, and then made a brief call at Campbell Island. Finally, they reached Victoria Land in Antarctica and located the precise bearing of the South Magnetic Pole (160 miles inland). They discovered Mt Erebus (3,798 metres) on the fringes of what is now the Ross Sea. As Joseph wrote to his father:

To see the dark cloud of smoke tinged with flame rising from the volcano in one column, one side jet black and the other reflecting the colors [sic] of the sun, turning off at a right angle by some current of wind and extending many miles to leeward; it is a sight far exceeding anything I could imagine and which is very much heightened by the idea that we have penetrated far farther page 75 than was once thought practicable, and there is a sort of awe that steels over us all in considering our total insignificance and helplessness.

Three months stay in Tasmania, a visit to Sydney, then a three-month say in New Zealand, a trip to the Falklands and another visit to the Ice Barrier

The Erebus and Terror then returned to Tasmania.

The ships reached Paihia in the Bay of Islands on 16 August 1841. There Hooker met William Colenso (1811-99), printer, missionary, school inspector and botanist. Colenso was of considerable help to Hooker in his botanical trips and himself benefited from Joseph's advice and encouragement. Joseph named Colensoa physaloides after him, but this plant is now known as Pratia physaloides (Plate 29). The expedition remained in the Bay of Islands throughout their New Zealand visit, and a considerable amount of time was spent in obtaining suitable spars for the ships. Just before they left New Zealand, Joseph received a letter from his father informing him of his appointment to Kew, a fact that Joseph had read in a newspaper in Sydney three months before. Ross and his crews then went south to the Chatham Islands and on to the pack ice, where they struggled for forty-six days to get clear of it. Both ships were damaged, not only by ice, for they collided and were locked together for a time. The Terror was in the worst condition, for a fire broke out and was only extinguished by partly flooding the hold. Eventually they reached the Falkland Islands in April 1842.

A six-month stay in the Falklands, some excursions, and the four-month homeward voyage

The ships were soon hauled ashore for repairs. Intensive botanising on the Falklands yielded only some 100 species of flowering plants for Joseph. Seeds of a tussock grass he collected and sent to Kew later proved useful, as the grass was successfully introduced to the Shetland Islands for animal fodder. The Erebus and Terror visited Hermite Island, part of Tierra del Fuego, near Cape Horn, which Joseph was particularly interested in seeing, for Charles Darwin had been there on the Beagle. Joseph met Darwin not long before the Antarctic voyage began and had a copy of his Journal of Researches into the Geology and Natural History of the Various Countries Visited by H.M.S. Beagle, which he often referred to, on board. The two men subsequently became life-long friends. Darwin's surviving letters to Hooker, when typed out, run to over 800 pages. After the voyage, Joseph had been fully informed of Darwin's ideas on evolution and natural selection and had faithfully kept them secret many years before the publication in 1859 of The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.

Hermite Island proved to be richer in mosses than any comparably sized region Joseph ever visited, and he collected more than 100 different species. Tierra del Fuego had an interesting flora, with some flowering plants very similar to English ones and many lichens identical to those found in Britain. This region seemed to him the "great botanical centre of the Antarctic Ocean", and many of his ideas on geographical plant distribution and dispersal were fostered by this visit. In December 1842 they left the page 76 Falklands and headed south once more. The ships narrowly escaped being frozen in the ice. Joseph Hooker found on one of the Antarctic islands a lichen, which he found again high in the Himalayas. James Ross was able to confirm that there was only one South Magnetic Pole, and by April 1843 the ships had reached the Cape of Good Hope. In September the voyage was over.

Botany of the Antarctic Voyage

The botanical results of the voyage were published in Joseph Hooker's six-volume The Botany of the Antarctic Voyage. He worked on this at Kew, receiving pay as assistant surgeon (£136.10s. a year) and a grant of £1,000 from the Admiralty towards the cost of its publication. Publication was not completed until 1860. During this time Joseph had spent three and a half years in India. It has been stated that The Botany of the Antarctic Voyage benefited from this, for the important introductory essays to the various sections were improved by the additional knowledge of plant variation and distribution that Hooker gained on his Indian travels.

The first two-volume section, I. Flora Antarctica, described, in part one, the botany of Auckland and Campbell Islands. It included descriptions of sixty-three new species and six new genera, although five of these genera were subsequently (in Flora Novae-Zelandiae) included within earlier-described genera. There were eighty hand-coloured plates. Part two described the botany of Tierra del Fuego, Hermite Island and the Strait of Magellan, the Falklands and Kerguelen Island. This part also had descriptions of plants not collected by Hooker, including those that Darwin had collected. There were 118 plates.

The second two-volume section, II. Flora Novae-Zelandiae, consisted of part one, "Flowering Plants" (with seventy plates), and part two, "Flowerless Plants" (with sixty plates). In the first part 730 species of flowering plants and conifers were described (eighty-three of these were illustrated) and in the second part, 1,037 species of non-flowering plants (algae, fungi, mosses, liverworts, lichens and ferns).

The third two-volume section, III. Flora Tasmaniae, dealt with the plants of Tasmania. Part one consisted of dicotyledonous flowering plants (with 100 hand-coloured plates), and part two consisted of monocotyledonous and non-flowering plants (also with 100 plates). As with Flora Novae-Zelandiae, the flora of Tasmania was the first published flora of that country.

Flora Novae-Zelandiae was published in two versions with either coloured or uncoloured plates. It seems that other parts of The Botany of the Antarctic Voyage were published with only coloured plates.

As Joseph Hooker did field work in only a small part of New Zealand, much of this flora is based on collections by William Colenso, Andrew Sinclair, David Lyall, and in particular the Banks and Solander collections from Cook's first voyage. Flora Novae-Zelandiae was dedicated to Colenso, Lyall and Sinclair. Dr David Lyall (1817-95) was Joseph Hooker's coun- page 77 terpart on the Terror on Ross's expedition, being assistant surgeon and naturalist, and he assisted Hooker in collecting and pressing plants. He visited New Zealand again in 1847 as surgeon-naturalist on the Acheron expedition, led by Captain John Stokes. The purpose of that expedition was to complete Cook's coastal survey of Australia and New Zealand. Lyall was the first to botanise on Stewart Island. He discovered the Mt Cook "lily" — a very attractive, white-flowered buttercup, Ranunculus lyallii, which has circular leaves up to thirty centimetres in diameter, and which Hooker named after him. Dr Andrew Sinclair (1796-1861), a surgeon in the Royal Navy, was in the Bay of Islands for part of the time that Joseph Hooker was there and collected with him for a while. In 1844 he was appointed New Zealand Colonial Secretary under Governor Fitzroy and devoted much of his spare time to collecting plants for Hooker. He retired to England but in 1858 returned to New Zealand, largely, it seems, to gather more material for Hooker's forthcoming Handbook of the New Zealand Flora (1864, 1867). In 1861 he drowned while crossing the Rangitata River on an expedition in the Southern Alps, led by the geologist Sir Julius von Haast.

The Botany of the Antarctic Voyage contains meticulous, full Latin descriptions of each plant and extremely good and extensive critical taxonomic notes in English. Joseph Hooker received assistance from a number of specialists when working on the lower plants (algae, fungi, lichens, mosses and liverworts), and these people are co-authors of parts of The Botany of the Antarctic Voyage.

The plates were done by Walter Fitch, who "worked up" Hooker's original drawings and paintings made in the field or on the Erebus. These are now at Kew. Some plants were drawn by Fitch from dried specimens only and were not based on any preliminary sketch by Hooker. Joseph was a very competent artist, though not perhaps the equal of his father.

After the voyage

While Joseph Hooker worked on The Botany of the Antarctic Voyage, he made good use of his father's herbarium and library at Kew. In 1845 he lectured in botany at the University of Edinburgh, in place of the gravely ill professor of botany. It had seemed that he might succeed him when Professor Graham died in 1845, but John Balfour got the position. In 1846 Joseph was employed by the Geological Survey, which at the time was under the same administration as Kew, the Department of Woods and Forests. The appointment was for him to describe the British flora, living and fossil, in relation to geology and did not prevent him from continuing with the Antarctic voyage floras as well.

In July 1847 Joseph Hooker became engaged to Frances Henslow. As his father did, so was Joseph to marry the daughter of a botanist, for Frances' father, the Rev. John Henslow, was professor of botany at Cambridge. The engagement was a long one. Joseph left in November 1847 on his botanical explorations of India and did not return until March 1851.

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His travels were financed by the Geological Survey, the Admiralty and a grant from Treasury. His journey in India, especially in the Himalayas, and the large amount of material he collected, made an important contribution not only to botany but also zoology, geology, ethnology, meteorology, geography and cartography. The illustrated and lengthy account of his travels, Himalayan Journals (John Murray, 1854), which ran to several editions, was dedicated to Charles Darwin and has been described as one of the great travel books. One of the horticultural benefits of his journey was the discovery of many new species of Rhododendron, seeds of which were sent to Kew. They included the now widely cultivated species R. dalhousiae, R. hodgsonii and R. thomsonii. The Rhododendrons of SikkimHimalaya (1849-51) began to appear, edited by William Hooker, before Joseph returned to England. The plates, based on Joseph's drawings, were "worked up" by Walter Fitch. A few months after his return, Joseph and Frances were married, in August 1851, and in January 1853 their first child, William Henslow Hooker, was born. For a time they existed on grants for arranging the Indian collections, then in May 1855 Joseph was appointed assistant director to his father at Kew.

The Kew Years

Joseph and his family moved into what is now Herbarium House, Kew, where they lived for the next ten years. Joseph Hooker worked on a variety of topics and wrote important papers on the botany of the Galapagos Islands from specimens collected by Charles Darwin and others. The Botany of the Antarctic Voyage was completed and an incomplete Flora Indica (with T Thomson) appeared. Much later (1875-97) the monumental seven-volume The Flora of British India was written by Hooker, assisted by others. In 1860 Joseph spent three months botanising with Daniel Hanbury in what is now Israel, Syria and the Lebanon. This led to several papers, including one on cedars (Cedrus).

Genera Plantarum, one of the greatest works in botany, was begun by Joseph Hooker with George Bentham, a botanist of independent means. Publication began in 1862 and was completed in 1883. This gigantic undertaking brought together the mass of information on seed plants in systematic order, down to the level of each genus. It was written entirely in Latin, and by the time it was completed Bentham had written over one million words and Hooker about half a million. An important event in New Zealand botany was the publication in 1864 of the first part of Hooker's (unillustrated) Handbook of the New Zealand Flora. It covered ferns and their allies, conifers and flowering plants. The text contains, in addition to the description of each plant, references to the literature and keys to families, genera and species. The second part, describing algae, fungi, lichens, mosses and liverworts, appeared in 1867.

William Hooker died on 12 August 1865, aged eighty, after a few days' illness, and within three months Joseph Hooker was appointed director of Kew. His work as assistant director had made him thoroughly familiar page 79 with the work done at Kew and he brought great enthusiasm towards directing the gardens. Despite heavy administrative duties, which he conscientiously performed, and outside duties, such as those involved with being president of the Royal Society from 1873 to 1878, Joseph Hooker continued with his botanical studies and publications with little diminution of pace. In 1870 his Students' Flora of the British Isles first appeared. It has been described by a Kew botanist, the late Dr W. B. Turrill, author of an interesting book on Hooker (Joseph Dalton HookerBotanist, Explorer, and Administrator), as "one of the best of British floras ever to have been published as a single volume".

In 1871 Hooker and three others visited Morocco, and an account by Hooker and another member of the party, John Ball, appeared in 1878 as Journal of a Tour to Marocco [sic] and the Great Atlas. In 1881 an even bigger task than Genera Plantarum was begun under Joseph Hooker's direction, with financial support from Charles Darwin. This was Index Kewensis, which is continued in the form of supplements today. The aim of the Index was to list all the names that had been used for plants, giving the author of each and the place of publication. At first a judgment was made as to which was the valid name for a plant, with those considered synonymous in brackets. This differentiation was dropped in 1913 so that Index Kewensis is now an index and not an authority for the botanical correctness of the name of a particular plant. The first four volumes appeared in 1892-95.

In 1874 Joseph's wife, Frances, died. It had been a happy marriage and he was fortunate two years later to begin another happy marriage to Hyacinth, widow of Sir William Jardine. They produced two sons, born in 1877 and 1885. To Joseph's disappointment, none of his children became botanists, though his sons did well in a variety of careers. In 1877, the year he was knighted in the Order of the Star of India, Joseph took part in his last major botanical expedition. The trip, which lasted some three months, was undertaken with his old friend Asa Gray (1810-88). Asa Gray, who first visited the Hookers in 1838, had been professor of natural history at Harvard (1842-73) and was then regent of the Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC. He was the foremost United States plant taxonomist of his time. Gray and Hooker were particularly interested in the relationships and history of the North American flora. They botanised extensively in the Rockies, on one occasion sleeping out at 13,000 feet (4,000 metres). During their travels they visited Salt Lake City, where they "had a chat" with Brigham Young, head of the Mormon Church, who reminded Joseph of "a stout, elderly and thoroughly respectable butler", though his opinion of the sect was a very low one! He visited too the forests of the eastern United States, and several interesting papers resulted from the US visit.

He retired as director of Kew near the end of 1885, aged sixty-nine, and his son-in-law, William Thiselton-Dyer, who had become assistant director in 1875, was made director. Retirement gave Joseph more time to page 80 devote to his research. He had purchased a six-acre plot of land in Berkshire, where he built a large, comfortable house ("The Camp"). The surrounding woodlands contained many of the rhododendrons he had discovered in Sikkim. For many years he commuted to Kew three or four days a week to work in the herbarium and library. In his last years Joseph Hooker tackled the taxonomy of a difficult group of plants, the balsams (Impatiens), most of which occur in Asia. He described 303 new species and was still working on the group a few weeks before he died, aged ninety-four, on 10 December 1911.

An offer of burial in Westminster Abbey was made to his family, but in accordance with his wishes, Joseph was buried in the family grave beside his father in St Anne's Churchyard, Kew, a few yards from the director's house. One of his hobbies had been to collect Wedgwood china, especially medallions, a pursuit that had amused Charles Darwin, who, though related to the Wedgwoods by both descent and marriage, had little interest in the china. In 1865 Joseph had commissioned a Wedgwood memorial medallion of Sir William, a task that took the sculptor, Thomas Woolner, and Hooker's cousin, Reginald Palgrave, nearly two years. It was therefore appropriate that his own memorial plaque in Kew Church, where William's is located, was made of Wedgwood jasper ware. It was designed by his cousin Matilda Smith. Below the words on the plaque is a portrait of Joseph (from a model by Frank Bouchier), surrounded by five plants from five countries whose floras he had been interested in. One of them is Celmisia vernicosa from New Zealand. A marble bust of Joseph Hooker, also by Frank Bouchier, is in Westminster Abbey.

The Hookers have been dealt with at length, even though only Joseph visited New Zealand and then only for a few months. However, their influence on botany, including New Zealand botany and botanical illustration, has been profound. The artists they trained, Walter and John Fitch and Matilda Smith, devoted considerable time to illustrating New Zealand plants and set standards that served as models for others. William Hooker described many of our plants, especially the lower groups, for the first time, and laid the basis for Joseph Hooker to produce the first illustrated New Zealand flora in English {Flora Novae-Zelandiae) and then his Handbook of the New Zealand Flora, which was the foundation of all the floras that followed. Joseph Hooker also served as a catalyst to inspire others to collect and describe plants. This was especially true for botanists in New Zealand. As the distinguished botanist Leonard Cockayne noted in an obituary on Joseph Hooker {Transactions of the New Zealand Institute, 1911):

The indebtedness of New Zealand science does not end with Hooker's published work. To all serious investigators of the flora he was a friend, guide, and counsellor. There is, indeed, no name of moment in the later botany of the Dominion but is deeply indebted to Hooker's influence and assistance, generously given.

page 81

Plate 23 Hedycarya arborea (pigeonwood or porokaiwhiri)

This painting illustrates nearly mature fruits on a female tree. As the name suggests, the fruits are a favourite diet of the New Zealand pigeon, and the Maori name porokaiwhiri means "pigeon-food" tree. When fruits are fully mature they are a deeper orange. The coarsely toothed leaves are arranged in pairs, with each pair at right angles to the preceding pair. Pigeonwood is a medium-sized tree up to fifteen metres high, which occurs up to 800 metres altitude in the North Island, and reaches Banks Peninsula on the east coast and Milford Sound on the west coast of the South Island.

Courtesy of the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand

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Plate 23 Hedycarya arborea J. R. et G. Forst. (pigeonwood) Martha King

Plate 23 Hedycarya arborea J. R. et G. Forst. (pigeonwood) Martha King

Plate 24 Rhabdothamnus solandri (matata)

This is a slender, branching shrub reaching two metres high, found near streams in lowland forest. Especially common in the Auckland district, it reaches as far south as Wellington. Flower colour varies from yellow to orange to red, with darker stripes. The genus Rhabdothamnus consists of a single species restricted to New Zealand and is a member of the mostly tropical and subtropical family Gesneriaceae, which includes the African violet (Saintpaulia). As shown in the separate illustration at left, the petals form a cylindrical tube, which has a five-lobed tip. The five stamens are fused at their bases to the petal tube and curve to meet at their tips so that their pollen-bearing anthers are fused together. Martha King has illustrated, to the right of the dissected petal-tube, a flower after the stamens and tube have fallen. It shows five green sepals and a central ovary with a terminal, hair-like style.

Courtesy of the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand

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Plate 24 Rhabdothamnus solandri A. Cunn. (matata) Martha King

Plate 24 Rhabdothamnus solandri A. Cunn. (matata) Martha King

Plate 25 Pseudowintera axillaris (lowland horopito)

I have chosen a painting by Fanny Osborne that has not been illustrated in Jeanne Goulding's book. Lowland horopito is a member of the Winteraceae, which is generally considered to contain more primitive features than any other extant family of flowering plants. Pollen grains of this group, which are usually grouped together in permanent fours, have been found as fossils in New Zealand and Australia as far back as the Cretaceous. This period, which began about 135 million years ago, is the one in which flowering plants are thought to have first evolved. Primitive features in the Winteraceae include the nature of the flowers and of the wood — which lacks vessels, the specialised, water-conducting, cellular tubes found in all but about 100 of the approximately 250,000 species of flowering plants.

Lowland horopito is a small tree, up to ten metres tall, which grows in the forest understorey. It occurs from just south of North Cape to northern Marlborough and Nelson. Although it can grow from sea level to 850 metres altitude, it is uncommon above 600 metres. The elliptical leaves are a glossy, dark green above and greyish-green to greyish-white underneath. Leaves have a pungent, spicy taste and a camphorlike odour when crushed. They are unpalatable to deer, goats, pigs and oppossums. Consequently, in forests that have been heavily browsed by these introduced mammals, lowland horopito can be very abundant.

As the painting shows, one to several flowers are situated in the axil of a leaf or leaf scar. Each flower consists of a small, green cup of fused sepals (visible on the flower shown from underneath near the centre of the illustration), which enclose the base of a ring of four to ten greenish-white or white petals. There are eight to twenty broad, short stamens, each with four terminal pollen sacs. In the centre of the flower are one to five yellow-green or reddish carpels, which ripen into fruits. Mature fruits page 82 are reddish-orange berries up to eight millimetres in diameter, which are eaten by tuis {Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae), bellbirds (Anthornis melanura), waxeyes (Zoster-ops lateralis) and yellow-crowned parakeets (Cyanoramphus auriceps). Recently, it was observed that the ripe fruits of lowland horopito were eaten by the stitchbird (Notiomystis cineta), an endangered species now restricted to Little Barrier Island.

Lowland horopito occurs naturally on Great Barrier Island, and Fanny Osborne's painting is presumably of a plant collected there. Pseudowintera is endemic to New Zealand. There are two other species: mountain horopito, Pseudowintera colorata, which has characteristic light-green or yellow leaves with reddish spots or blotches and red margins, and Pseudowintera traversii, a small-leaved (one to three centimetres) shrub, confined to forest and scrub at 700 to 1,000 metres altitude in a small region of the northwest of the South Island.

Courtesy of the Director of the Auckland Institute and Museum

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Plate 25 Pseudowintera axillaris J. R. et G. Forst. Dandy, (lowland horopito) Fanny Osborne

Plate 25 Pseudowintera axillaris J. R. et G. Forst. Dandy, (lowland horopito) Fanny Osborne

Plate 26 Ehrharta stipoides (Microlaena stipoides) (meadow rice grass)

This slender perennial grass occurs in lowland regions of the North Island and in localised parts of the South Island, chiefly near the sea, and in Stewart Island. It is widely distributed in Australia and Tasmania. John Buchanan noted that it is a valuable pasture grass, "closely cropped by horses, cattle and sheep". It has the ability to withstand considerable drought. A related species with larger leaves, Ehrharta diplax {Microlaena avenacea), is probably the most abundant forest grass in New Zealand.

Figure 1, the grass with inflorescences, natural size; figure 2, an enlarged spikelet; figure 3, an enlarged floret (flower) from a spikelet; figures 4 to 7, enlarged non-reproductive parts of spikelets; figure 8, enlarged female part of flower (ovary and paired stigmas); figure 9, the enlarged grain (fruit).

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Plate 26 Ehrharta stipoides Labill. (meadow rice grass) John Buchanan

Plate 26 Ehrharta stipoides Labill. (meadow rice grass) John Buchanan