Henry Noltie

Jan 202017

Surely one of the most moving thanks ever penned for an act of botanical patronage was that written by Archibald Menzies from his surgeon’s post on HMS Assistance, from Halifax, Nova Scotia (known to the French as Acadia) on 30 May 1784. It was addressed to John Hope who had recognised the talents of a Perthshire boy, trained him as a gardener in the Leith Walk incarnation of RBGE, and paid for a medical training that allowed a profitable medical career, initially with the Royal Navy. Here is what Menzies wrote:

List of plants sent by Menzies to Hope in November 1784.

In this situation the tears trinkled down my cheeks in gratitude to you Sir, who first taught me to enjoy those pleasures which providence has so conspicuously placed before my eyes, accept of them as the only mark a grateful heart can at present offer.

This first ‘mark’ of young Menzies’s thanks was botanical, in the form of a collection of seeds collected in the West Indies and near New York. Sent with his next letter, of 2 November 1784, were seeds and dried specimens collected in Nova Scotia, with an accompanying list of the specimens. Nobody knew that any of these had survived, as Hope’s herbarium has generally been taken to have disappeared.

On Wednesday Deborah Reid asked to see me about the Canadian herbarium of Christian Broun Dalhousie, one of those discussed in her fascinating recent PhD dissertation on Scottish women gardeners and collectors. Lady Dalhousie was wife of the 9th Earl, a soldier and administrator who was Governor of Nova Scotia from 1816 to 1820 and Governor General of British North America from 1820 to 1828. She gave her later Indian collections to the Botanical Society of Edinburgh and these, with their enigmatic ‘CBD’ labels, are a well-known element of the RBGE herbarium. Much less is known about her Canadian specimens, but it emerges that she must have sent these to the Edinburgh University Museum shortly after 1824. Given that our collections are arranged taxonomically, the only way to find specimens made by a particular collector is to think of a species they might have gathered and visit the appropriate cabinet: my favourite sport of herbarium angling. I thought of an obvious genus – the ladies slipper orchid Cypripedium  –  we went to the ‘Area 13’ (North America)  cover in the family Orchidaceae, and within minutes had found a Dalhousie specimen of C. acaule.

Interesting enough, like two Desmond Morris biomorphs engaged in conversation, but what really set my heart racing was the sheet next to it. An exquisite specimen collected by Menzies, with two detailed manuscript descriptions in his beautiful copperplate hand. This led me to the copies of Hope’s papers in our archive (the originals are in the National Archives of Scotland), and I found not only three letters that Menzies wrote to Hope in 1784 and 1785, but the list of accompanying specimens. Hope had recently sent out to Menzies a copy of the 12th edition of Linnaeus’s Systema Naturae, from which he concluded that seven of the 41 specimens (5 cryptogams, 36 flowering plants), were new and undescribed species. Conditions for a scientist were terrible and Menzies told Hope he had

examined & described [the specimens] with candle light in the centre of a noisy cockpit which is my station on board.

The new ones were marked on the list ‘nost.’ (nostri = ‘ours’). With the list in hand, I went to the various cabinets, and was able to find specimens not only ALL the supposed novelties, but five of the others on the list, and four previously unknown specimens from Menzies’ next expedition of 1786–9 to the Pacific North-West. When Menzies died in 1842 (aged 88) he left his own herbarium of monocots and cryptogams to Edinburgh University, and I also unearthed a duplicate of one of the 1784 Nova Scotian specimens in his own collection, still unidentified after 230 years.

The interest of these specimens is huge, not least as they show what an acute botanist Menzies was, despite the grimness of his botanical laboratory. Of the seven supposed novelties only one had already been described (for this Menzies had looked in the wrong genus: it was a Houstonia rather than a Hedyotis, already described by Linnaeus in Species Plantarum as Houstonia caerulea), and if Hope had been a better taxonomist, a more prolific author, or generally quicker off the mark, he could have described six new species on his pupil’s behalf. What Menzies proposed to call Cypripedium bifolium, Eriophorum acadiense, Kalmia tenuifolia, Potentilla tridentata, Vaccinium viscosum and V. acadiense, were named by later authors respectively, as: Cypripedium acaule (by the Kew gardener William Aiton in 1789), Eriophorum tenellum (by the American Thomas Nuttall, but not until 1818), Kalmia polifolia (by the German Friedrich von Wangenheim in 1788), Potentilla tridentata (by Banks’s librarian Daniel Solander in 1789), Andromeda (now Gaylussacia) baccata (Wagenheim, 1787) and Vaccinium macrocarpon (Aiton, 1789).

The plants themselves were not only of purely botanical interest, the last one being the edible cranberry (that has been improved by cultivation). But the final significance of the specimens is that they confirm my suspicion as to the fate of Hope’s herbarium. The collection was Hope’s private property and accordingly removed with all his books and papers following his death in 1786. The specimens, however, were later returned to RBGE by his son Thomas Charles Hope, after which they went ‘missing’. The present RBGE herbarium dates from the mid-19th century, the result of the combination and recuration of the old University collections (which included the Dalhousie Canadian specimens) with that of the Botanical Society of Edinburgh (largely British, but including Lady Dalhousie’s Indian plants), and which was housed at RBGE by about 1860. By finding the occasional Hope specimen on sheets assembled in the mid-19th century (usually with specimens from later collectors and localities – it was the SPECIES that was important rather than its provenance), I had come to realise that most of Hope’s specimens had probably been discarded in the re-organisation – perhaps they had been badly chewed by insects or suffered from damp; and the British species would have been duplicated in large numbers by better and more modern material. These Menzies specimens prove that this is indeed what happened, many of them being mounted on sheets along with later specimens – the backing sheets are various: two have a watermark of 1848, and two of 1860. Hope’s herbarium sadly does not sit languishing in a closet or loft awaiting rediscovery. Small as this Menzies collection is, it represents one of the largest surviving fragments of Hope’s herbarium, along with a much more extensive set of specimens sent to him by Adam Freer from Aleppo (but that is for another Botanics Story).


Lady Dalhousie’s specimen of Cypripedium acaule, probably collected in Nova Scotia, c. 1824.

Archibald Menzies’ specimen of Cypripedium acaule, collected in woods near Halifax, 1784. Finding it not to be treated in the 12th edition of Linnaeus’ Systema Naturae he (then correctly) believed it to be a new species, for which he proposed the name C. bifolium, but this was never published.

Composite herbarium sheet of Viola lanceolata, showing Archibald Menzies’ collection from ‘Acadia N[orth] A[merica]’ top left, remounted with three later collections (Texas, Thomas Drummond, c. 1833; Pennsylvania, Joseph Barratt, 1834; North Carolina, Ferdinand Rugel,1841).

Jul 182016

Ch14.65Walking home though the garden recently, after a hard day in the herbarium, my eye alighted on a small tree that I must have passed many thousands of times, but had never previously noticed. Such are the riches of the RBGE collection (both ‘living’ and ‘dead’), that, even after a 30-year career, they continue to inspire and inform. The evening light was striking the tree’s bark and even its smallest branches were (unusually for a city-centre location) entirely gilded with the lichen Xanthoria parietina. Even more surprising, on consulting its label, was to discover that the tree was Fraxinus xanthoxyloides. Not only was the wood of this particular specimen yellow both within and without, but it took me back to a 2014 trip to the Western Himalayas, when I followed in Cleghorn’s footsteps, and had seen what he called the ‘crab ash’ growing in the wild in the spectacular valleys of the Sutlej and the Chenab rivers. This gave me the idea to look for other trees that had been familiar to Cleghorn while working in the Himalayas. These were easily discovered by consulting the Garden’s richly multi-faceted database, BG-Base. Being a Luddite I couldn’t do this myself, but Alan Elliott kindly used the system that allows the plotting of individual plant accessions onto a garden map. The result is a trail of eleven species, allowing a self-guided tour starting at the East Gate, so that others can be transported (at least mentally) to Cleghorn’s ‘rugged ascents and descents of the Tibetan Alps suited only to goats and monkeys and men with hardened nerves’.


Click on the map to download the trail.


Specimen of Prunus cornuta collected in the Western Himalaya by Cleghorn, c. 1862.

Specimen of Prunus cornuta collected in the Western Himalaya by Cleghorn, c. 1862.

Jul 182016

_DSC5571On 23 July a show entitled ‘I still believe in miracles’ will open in Inverleith House. It is a retrospective of the exhibitions of contemporary art, and of botanical drawings selected from the RBGE archives, that have been curated by Paul Nesbitt and myself since 1986, when RBGE ‘reclaimed’ the former Regius Keeper’s residence from its intervening use as the Gallery of Modern Art.

Galleries 2 and 5 are devoted to botanical works, collectively entitled ‘Elements of Botany’, after one of John Hutton Balfour’s school textbooks. The central ground-floor gallery (2) is devoted to the ‘Art of Education’, with works drawn from the collections of John Hope (Regius Keeper 1761 to 1786) and John Hutton Balfour (Regius Keeper 1845 to 1879). As well as teaching diagrams made for Hope, there are drawings relating to his Leith Walk Garden in celebration of the recent rebuilding of Botanic Cottage. Balfour’s teaching diagrams were painted for him by the Edinburgh artist Neil Stewart, and also included are four papier mâché plant models of the sort that Balfour purchased from the Berlin firm of Brendel.

CNS122In the central first-floor gallery (5) are Indian botanical drawings, representing Hope’s influence both in his own time and posthumously. The earliest drawing on display is one sent to him from Bengal by his student James Kerr in around 1775. There are also works commissioned by two of Hope’s star pupils (both of whom studied in the upper room of the Botanic Cottage) – William Roxburgh and Francis Buchanan, the latter lent by the Linnean Society. Representing the next generation are watercolours made for Alexander Gibson and Robert Wight (pupils of Daniel Rutherford), and the display concludes with six drawings commissioned, from a variety of artists, by Hugh Cleghorn. Cleghorn was a ‘grand-pupil’ of Hope, whose eponymous grandfather had also studied in that upper room in 1770; the grandson, however, studied botany at Inverleith (in 1838 and 1839) under Robert Graham, successor to Rutherford.

The exhibition also forms part of the events to celebrate the publication, on 12 August, of two new books on Cleghorn – a biography, Indian Forester, Scottish Laird: the Botanical Lives of Hugh Cleghorn of Stravithie. And a colourful book containing a selection of the 3000 drawings that he had made by Indian artists during his 25 years as an East India Company surgeon and pioneering forester entitled The Cleghorn Collection: South Indian Botanical Drawings 1845 to 1860.

Click here to download the label text for the exhibition.


Jul 012016

Nordic ‘alimentation noire’: a culinary experiment, RBGE Canteen, 29 June 2016 (a continuation of Franklin Arctic Canadian Collections at RBGE – Part 1).

What did the ‘tripe de roche’ that Franklin’s men ate for survival taste like? There was only way to find out, and I thought that while Adriana was in Scotland she might take the opportunity of getting a bit closer to her subject than would be possible in California. So Saturday found me climbing a lofty Scottish peak, where I was able to scrape a few small pieces of Umbilicaria cylindrica from a rock – this is not one of the species eaten on the expedition, but is closely related to U. arctica, which was.

The prepared ‘tripe de roche’

The prepared ‘tripe de roche’

On the expedition the men were unable to remove the ‘bitter principle’ (the lichen acids) from the tripe de roche, which caused them, especially poor Robert Hood, to suffer terribly from colic. To overcome this, and so as not to poison my guest, I briefly boiled the lichens in water: the result was a deeply unappetizing, mucilaginous sludge.

IMG_5776Richardson related that the ‘Indians’ mixed their lichen with fish roe, so on my way to work I stopped at a well-known, upmarket supermarket and purchased a jar of lump-fish roe. Fortunately I had not mixed the animal and fungal matter, as I then discovered that Adriana was a vegan. So she had to have her sludge unadulterated, if on a luxurious base unavailable to Franklin – a miniature Stromness oatcake (though he could have stocked up on these, as he stopped in Orkney en route for Canada).

This, therefore, was ‘canapé à la Franklin – dans le temps de l’austérité’. Being a sybarite I preferred ‘canapé à la Franklin – de luxe’, the version with added caviar.

Result: Adriana’s canapé tasted of nothing, mine only of the salty roe.

The de luxe version, mixed with lump-fish roe

The de luxe version, mixed with lump-fish roe


Jul 012016

Robert Anstruther Goodsir’s tombstone in the Dean Cemetery, EdinburghThe story and fate of the fourth of Sir John Franklin’s expeditions in search of the North-West Passage, on the ships Erebus and Terror in 1845–8, is well known. It has a connection with my current work on Hugh Cleghorn, as the young surgeon-naturalist on HMS Erebus was Harry Goodsir, an Anstruther friend from Cleghorn’s childhood. Harry’s brother Robert Anstruther Goodsir went on two of the voyages in search of his brother and his compatriots – and Robert’s tombstone is one of two with Franklin connections in Edinburgh’s remarkable Dean Cemetery. It has recently emerged that Harry’s skeleton may be the one returned to Britain and buried at Greenwich wrongly identified by Thomas Henry Huxley in 1872 as that of Henry Le Vesconte.

Robert Anstruther Goodsir’s tombstone in the Dean Cemetery, Edinburgh

Robert Anstruther Goodsir’s tombstone in the Dean Cemetery, Edinburgh

My interest in Frankliniana has been revived with a visit to the herbarium by Adriana Craciun from the University of California. She is here primarily to research a story from an altogether more torrid region of the globe (the supposed germination of wheat and peas found with Egyptian mummies in the mid-nineteenth century), but has recently published a book about Arctic exploration (Writing Arctic Disaster: Authorship and Exploration, Cambridge University Press, 2016). The travails experienced by members of Franklin’s first ‘Overland’ expedition of 1819–22 form one of the most harrowing tales of deprivation and endurance in the history of exploration: hopelessly badly provisioned, they trusted to help from ‘Indians’, ‘Esquimaux’ and Canadian ‘voyageurs’ (porters/hunters), to employees of two trading companies who turned out to be at war with each other, and on being able to live off the land from game shot and plants collected. The result, combined with the extreme environment encountered on the journey back from the ‘hyperborean sea’ in the autumn of 1821, was scarcely surprising: starvation, death, murder and cannibalism. One of the voyageurs employed by Franklin was clearly driven to insanity and shot two of his companions; he then brought back pieces of what he claimed to be ‘wolf’ meat to the surviving members of the party, which actually came from the bodies of his murdered companions. Only 9 of the 20 men returned, though only one of the five Britons lost his life. The survivors were forced to eat not only their boots, but rotting deer corpses (bones and all) and discarded caribou hides infested with the maggots of warble flies – the tastiest morsels, which tasted like ‘gooseberries’. The only vegetation obtainable during the arctic winters, and which had to be dug out from under feet of snow, were occasional berries and lichens of the genus Gyrophora (now Umbilicaria), which they called, perhaps ironically, as though from a French menu, ‘tripe de roche’.

A type sheet, from George Walker-Arnott’s herbarium, of Phlox hoodii, the plant chosen by John Richardson to commemorate his murdered colleague.

A type sheet, from George Walker-Arnott’s herbarium, of Phlox hoodii, the plant chosen by John Richardson to commemorate his murdered colleague.


The surgeon and naturalist on the expedition was John Richardson (1787–1865) from Dumfries, who had an Edinburgh MD, and may have studied botany at RBGE under Daniel Rutherford. In 1823 he published in an appendix to Franklin’s account of the expedition an account of the plants that (remarkably) he had managed to send back – in writing this Richardson had help from William Hooker and Robert Brown. I knew that there was Franklin material in the herbarium (a lupin specimen was reproduced in the Botanical Treasures book), but Adriana’s visit prompted a search for more, in particular for types of Richardson’s and Hooker’s new species – one of my favourite activities is what might be called ‘herbarium angling’. It turns out that there are Richardson/Franklin specimens in no less than four of the numerous individual collections that make up our vast and complex herbarium: Archibald Menzies (probably given to him directly by Richardson) and in the herbaria of George Walker-Arnott, Robert Kaye Greville and William Gourlie. Arnott and Greville were collaborators with, and Gourlie a Glasgow-friend of, Hooker, so their specimens are probably duplicates from the material given to Hooker by Richardson. Unfortunately the specimens are not numbered and usually have no details other than ‘Franklin Exped’. Some of the specimens undoubtedly come from the second expedition (on which Thomas Drummond was the botanist), but what are most probably types (previously unrecognised as such) of 20 species of flowering plants, and two lichens, from the first expedition have been discovered.

Of the types the most interesting are two sheets of Phlox hoodii. This is the plant that Richardson chose to commemorate the 24-year old Robert Hood, the artist of the expedition, who while consoling himself by reading Edward Bickersteth’s Scripture Help was the third victim of the Iroquois voyageur, Michel Terohaute, shot through the back of the head and doubtless intended to be eaten. Terohaute in turn was executed by Richardson. Knowing the story behind them, it is moving in the extreme to contemplate these small cushion plants, turned into specimens, mounted on large sheets of paper, like islands adrift in a sea of blue ice.

Umbilicaria pennsylvanica, specimens given by Richardson to Archibald Menzies – one of the lichens eaten by the party.

Umbilicaria pennsylvanica, specimens given by Richardson to Archibald Menzies – one of the lichens eaten by the party.

Umbilicaria vellea, specimen from Robert Greville’s herbarium – the party’s lichen of choice.

Umbilicaria vellea, specimen from Robert Greville’s herbarium – the party’s lichen of choice.

Equally stirring are the lichen specimens, which resemble small fragments of the shoe leather that also had to be consumed. Two of the 120 species collected were described as new by Hooker (one being Cetraria richardsonii commemorating the indomitable botanist, who returned with Franklin on his second ‘Overland’ expedition, and launched the first search for his friend in 1848). And in Greville’s and Menzies’s herbaria are specimens of four of the species that expedition members were reduced to eating. Of these Richardson commented: ‘we used them … as articles of food, but not having the means of extracting the bitter principle … they proved noxious to several of the party producing severe bowel complaints. The Indians use the G[yrophora] Muhlenbergii … and when boiled along with fish-roe or other animal matter, it is agreeable and nutritious’. Sadly the men did not have the luxury of the caviar ‘palatizer’, and G. vellea, which was somewhat ‘more agreeable’, was obtainable only ‘very sparingly on the Barren Grounds’, i.e. the tundra.

Other fascinating things have emerged from this brief foray into Arctic history. The RBGE copy of the first edition (1823) of Richardson’s separately printed botanical Appendix to Franklin’s official expedition account is inscribed from the author to Robert Graham (RK of RBGE 1820–45). It is covered in manuscript additions and corrections in Richardson’s hand, which were mostly incorporated into the second edition of later in the same year. It also turns out that Eutoca (now Phacelia) franklinii was grown in a cold frame at RBGE, from seed given by Richardson to Graham, and described by the latter in the Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal of 1828.

Now read part 2: Nordic ‘alimentation noire’: a culinary experiment, RBGE Canteen, 29 June 2016

Mar 162016

In the past I have written about botanical ‘swagger prints’ – large-format illustrations commissioned at least in part to boost the ego of the commissioner. At RBGE (from Cleghorn’s library), is a spectacular elephant-folio volume of this type, a set of chromolithographs of eight Cape of Good Hope species, published in London in 1849 as Specimens of the Flora of South Africa, by a Lady. The lady in question was Arabella Roupell, wife of George Boone Roupell, a Madras civil-servant colleague of Cleghorn, and as I have recently discovered grandson of George Roupell of Charleston, South Carolina, who in the late 1760s drew a watercolour of Spigelia marilandica in the Hope collection. In the RBGE library are two similar volumes of lithographs of Indian plants, one by Margaret Read Brown (née Inverarity) who was a friend both of Cleghorn and of Mrs Roupell, her Wild Flowers of Southern & Western India (1866). The other is by Marianne Cookson (née Stephenson): Flowers Drawn and Painted after Nature in India (c 1835), a rare publication that was presented to RBGE by Queen Elizabeth II when she opened the library and herbarium building in 1964. Continue reading »

Mar 152016

IMG_5239 copyThe most glowing review of Cleghorn’s (frankly rather dull – his father uncharitably told him that it would ‘drive all other soporifics out of fashion’) 1861 Forests & Gardens of South India was penned by Joseph Hooker. So it was rather curious that a letter by this great, if decidedly unlovable, Victorian botanist should turn up at RBGE at the end of my Cleghorn project.

When going through the RBGE Illustrations Collection some 15 years ago, taking out all original drawings, but also many of the rarest prints, for safer storage, I also removed some miscellanea that demanded further study. From time to time, usually between other projects, I return to this stash: and as a result of knowledge acquired since my last look, something almost always leaps out as being of interest.

So it was on Friday. The illustrations are stuck onto herbarium sheets and had been arranged taxonomically by Family, genus and species; the sheet in question bore two images of the crucifer Dentaria diphylla – in a combination characteristic of the diversity of the collection, a hand-coloured engraving from the Botanical Magazine and a photograph from a cheap horticultural periodical. The reason I had extracted it was neither of these, but the third item attached to the sheet, a letter in the distinctive handwriting of Joseph Dalton Hooker, written from Sketty Hall, Swansea on the 29th of May in an unrecorded year. The plant referred to in the letter was denoted ‘D. aizoides’, but to anyone familiar with British botanical rarities, this could mean only one thing – a crucifer, to be sure, but belonging to an altogether different genus, Draba. Continue reading »

Feb 232016
Only know image of the Madras Exchange Hall

Only known image of the Madras Exchange Hall

Behind many of the books in the RBGE library lie interesting stories or provenances. One that has come to light during research for a new biography of the Indian forester Hugh Cleghorn concerns our set of the first six volumes of Hortus Malabaricus. One of the great classics of early tropical botany, lavishly illustrated with double-page engravings and published in 12 folio volumes in Amsterdam between 1678 and 1693, this was the work of Hendrik van Rheede, who assembled the materials at Cochin on the western, Malabar Coast of India, while working for the Dutch East India Company (VOC). The work was achieved by means of a team of Ayurvedic doctors, tree-climbing plant collectors, translators and artists.

In 1851, while on leave in Scotland, and shortly after reading his important paper on tropical deforestation to the British Association, Cleghorn was given these six volumes by his friend Robert Kaye Greville, a distinguished botanist and anti-slavery campaigner. Cleghorn took the books back with him to Madras, where he lived temporarily on the upper floor of a grand building called Exchange Hall, the premises of the merchants Oakes, Partridge & Co. At 3 a.m. of the morning of 16 October 1852 he was woken by the whining of his small dog, to find the whole building ablaze. Cleghorn escaped, but, truly the man of science, he chose to take with him his precious volumes of Hortus Malabaricus and the notes he had made on various herbaria while in Britain: the poor dog was cremated.

Frontus Piece of Volume I of Hortus Malabaricus

Frontispiece of Cleghorn’s copy of Volume I of Hortus Malabaricus

Feb 222016

araliaTwo new books are shortly to be published by RBGE about one of the Garden’s most significant, but forgotten, benefactors – Hugh Cleghorn of Stravithie (1820–1895). Some of the most interesting books in the library (the oldest from 1582) come from his collection, as do 3000 botanical drawings made for him by Indian artists, and his herbarium of several thousand Indian plants. Cleghorn studied botany under Robert Graham at RBGE in 1838 and 1839 as part of his medical degree, before joining the East India Company as a surgeon, and spending the rest of his career in India.

From his earliest days Cleghorn had a major interest in economic plants, in 1856 becoming the first Conservator of Forests for Madras, and in the 1860s he helped Dietrich Brandis to set up a national forest service for the whole of India. The first book is a biography of Cleghorn, and in the second will be reproduced 200 of the botanical drawings. Continue reading »

Oct 142014

IMG_2616Looking into the cabinets of the RBGE herbarium never fails to turn up a surprise. Today I was looking for specimens that might have come from the almost entirely destroyed collection of John Hope, our great Enlightenment Regius Keeper. I went to see if there were any specimens of wild rice (Zizania palustris), a North American species in which he took an interest. There was none that could have belonged to Hope himself, but of equal interest was a small sheet from the collection of Archibald Menzies (whose career, which included introducing the monkey-puzzle tree, was launched by Hope). On his death in 1842 Menzies left his grasses, sedges and non-flowering plants to RBGE. These are mounted on curiously small (145 x 229 mm) sheets, which, confusingly, are labelled on the back. When I turned this sheet over, I was amazed to read the collecting locality as ‘In the pond at Spring Grove’. This instantly rang a bell as the Isleworth country house of Sir Joseph Banks.

From the published summary of Banks’s correspondence the story can be pieced together, as in it are several references to Zizania. Banks first obtained seed of the ‘Folles Avoine’ from an un-named source in Montreal in 1787, which could have been either Thomas Davies or Mervyn Nooth. Nooth was a pupil of Hope, who had several spells in North America, initially in a military capacity and later as Superintendent of the Quebec Hospital. He is better known for inventing a device for carbonating soda water (more accurately improving Joseph Priestley’s one). In an 1800 letter to James Edward Smith (another Hope pupil), Banks told Smith that Zizania was growing well by his pond, and that he had just obtained seed of another aquatic, Eriocaulon (first discovered in Skye by another Hope pupil, James Robertson) and hoped that it would grow as well as the grass, which it should be noted the French called ‘mad oats’ rather than ‘wild rice’.