ln 1971 an expedition set out overland from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew on a nine-month exploration to study the plant wealth of Afghanistan. Setting off in late January the joumey crossed Europe and Turkey, lingering in lran for several weeks before venturing into Afghanistan in mid- April. The country was at relative peace during the early 1970s and the expedition was able to travel round the country unhindered, collecting plant samples wherever they went.
This book describes the places visited and the plants found on the various excursions around the country. More importantly, it describes a very beautiful country steeped in history before the Russian invasion and the subsequent despoliation of many parts of the country at the hands of insurgents and foreign powers.
Afghanistan has a rich history with a series of invasions over many centuries, including Alexander the Great (in the fourth century BC), the White Huns or Hephthalites (in the ﬁfth century AD) and the Mongolian invasion under Genghis Khan in the thirteenth century AD). It also has some astonishing sites: the blue mosque at Mazar-i-Sharif, the thirteenth century minaret of Djam, the Buddhas of Bamian (since destroyed) and the wonderful azure lakes of Band-i-Amir in the centre of the country.
Above all this is a book about an expedition to study and collect plants for scientiﬁc analysis.