QBARS - v7n2 Book Review

Book Review
Rudolph Henny

GEORGE FORREST: JOURNEYS AND PLANT INTRODUCTIONS , Edited by Dr. J. MacQueen Cowan with the assistance of members of the staff of the Royal Botanic Garden, and E. H. M. Cox,. 5 color plates, 85 monochrome illustrations, including a map showing the area covered by Forrest in his journeys, 252 pages, The Royal Horticultural Society

This volume, done in small print contains an immense amount of information on the journeys and plants discovered and introduced by Forrest. Much of the information supplied for the volume was furnished by persons who underwrote Forrest's expeditions and were acquainted with him, of course, though his letters and records would have remained for the future, but with the passing years that close association reflected throughout the book would have been lost. Forrest has now been dead 23 years, but that time space has almost been erased by the authors, and in the reading of the book the feeling pervades that this story is yet progressing, and that Forrest is still in the field collecting, though I am sure that the authors do not even vaguely attempt to arouse such thoughts in the reader. It is high time that such a work was undertaken by the authors, while many of Forrest's intimates are still alive. Fifty years from now the account would have been just as interesting, but surely never contain the first hand summation that could be supplied by the collectors associates and gardening friends.

Excerpts from Forrest's communications give a vivid account of the hardships encountered by the plant hunter, and the method of finding new plants in a terrain that could not only be called impossible, but vicious also.

The chapter on rhododendron and primula are the largest, and must have been Forrest's favorites, for he introduced many new species of both. In his reports he mentions "I am sending back a pound of seed of rhododendron." Since this was of a single species, one cannot help but reflect on the effort expended on such a prodigious collection, and also the small percentage of plants that must have been grown to maturity. The underwriters to the expedition surely must have been overwhelmed.

The volume contains over fifty chapters each dealing with a separate genus that was introduced or discovered by Forrest. Many of the plants found by Forrest had already been discovered by Delavay the French Catholic missionary twenty or thirty years before, but few had been introduced to the gardens of Europe. Many of the finds by Forrest were named after him, and bear his name. Each chapter contains at least one illustration of a member of the genus discussed, many are originals taken in the field by the great collector.

I am sure that many persons here in the United States will want to read the accounts presented in this fine edition, and amongst persons interested in the principal discoveries of Forrest none will overlook this excellent work.