An insightful peek at the rarely seen objects supporting the work of a leading international research centre is presented exquisitely in Botanical Treasures: Objects from the Herbarium and Library of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. Set alongside alluring images of antique and contemporary archive specimens sit rich textual passages presenting powerful stories about plants and people from around the world.
Charles Darwin, Carl Linnaeus and Captain Bligh are all cited, along with a cautionary tale of how plant collecting can leave you murdered in a bull pit; the explanation of how vomiting after ingestion of an "ordeal bean" could prove you innocent of crime and the truth about the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh's dalliance with the opium trade.
Celebrating the 50th anniversary of RBGE's combined Library and Herbarium building – and sold to support the work of the organisation – the multi-authored Botanical Treasures: Objects from the Herbarium and Library of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh aims to be both entertaining and enlightening in its approach to explaining what happens behind the scenes. It reveals the pictures and stories of everything from ethereal orchid flowers pickled in spirit to stunning teaching models of the late 19th century and the exotic drawings of Dapuri's unknown artist.
There are tales of adventure, considering the actions of men and women who have risked their lives to build the scientific resource now held in Edinburgh – for scientists around the world. Missionaries, doctors, soldiers and plant hunters have collected, painted and photographed the flora of the planet. There are also tales of plunder. While many returned home to speak of these adventures, a significant few have died on expedition and so have left a more complex legacy.