Hunting plant hunters

Trip Start Jan 30, 2007
Trip End Dec 31, 2011

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Flag of China  , Yunnan,
Monday, February 16, 2009

Yunnan is home to many of the plants we now have in many gardens around the world. The province was a rich hunting ground for botantists in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The amazing thing is that so many plants native to this region are now found growing in less favourable. One of the differences is that plants here at high altitude are quite bright. When seen growing at sea level they don't always have such a bright complexion.

I've come across a blog from someone not hunting plants, but the graves of plant hunters (many died here too).

There's more at

Obviously a lot could be said about George Forrest - the famous Scottish planthunter - but I leave it for now. Tonight Iīm heading down to Tengchong (Tengyueh as it used to be called) to try to find the grave of George Forrest. Got connections to some cultural circles in Tengchong and according to the information I have got, someone in Tengchong can point out the exact position where George Forrests grave is supposedly located.

Finding these earlier graves in China is not an easy task. Most of them have been totally demolished during the Cultural Revolution. According to the information I have got, thereīs no point in trying to go to the graveyards of the larger cities trying to finds some earlier graves of some foreigners, as they are all demolished. Itīs just a sheer coincidence that James Fraserīs grave was recently found in Yunnan, Baoshan. A 90-year old former gravedigger who still was around, was the only person who knew the location, and if nobody had asked him about it, which almost happened, the location would have been unknown forever. Fraser was this guy who came to baptise the Lisu people and gave them an alphabet.

A few years ago some people from Scotland were looking for the grave but were unable to find it. They did however find the "forgeiner cemetery" in Tengchong but it had been looted both during the Cultural Revolution and the Japanese invasion, hence the original grave was impossible to spot. We do know that George Forrests grave is next to the foreign consuls Mr. Littonīs. Litton died about 30 years earlier than Forrest from malaria while coming down from a British expedition up in the Lisu area of Nujiang. An excellent description of this journey can be obtained through the Internet from the National Geographical Societys archives.

What comes to the information I have got, that someone in Tengchong can point out the exact location of George Forrests grave, doesnīt necessarily mean much though. In China things like this might be just talk, and even if true, itīs not certain I will be able to obtain this information. Things have to be oiled up first, this is the so calledguanxithing. A few dinners with rice wine and such is probably needed. Anyway, I will take the nightbus down to Tengchong and do my best down there to try to obtain this piece of information. In case I will find the location of the tomb this could possibly be used as a tool for organizing some events between Britain and Yunnan.

So to all you British enthusiasts of orchides and such, do not nominate the candidates for the George Forrest award yet, I'm just about to pick it up in a while.
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