Jun 102016

The Genus is just the start. As plants are collected in the field they arrive back at the Botanics with collectors notes; some detailed, some not so. These Roses were collected a seed in China. The parent plants were growing on the edge of mixed tree and shrub woodland between 2000 and 3000 meters. Associated vegetation was Rhododendron, Acer, and Sambucus with ground flora, Anaphalis, Rumex, Plantago, and Polygonatum. Having grown on the seed to planting out stage we then it to flower. A specimen is then taken to the Herbarium for verification. Once this is completed the entry in BG-BASETM (the gardens plant data base) is updated and the label engraved.

Below just are some of the species roses in flower in the Chinese Hill Side.

Species roses

Species roses

Click here to search the RBGE living collections catalogue for “Rosa”.

Jun 092014
Portrait of Sir Geroge Watt in the archive of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Portrait of Sir George Watt in the archive of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Born on the 24th of April 1851 in Old Meldrum, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. He was educated at the Grammar School, King’s College and Marischal College, Aberdeen, and later attended both the University of Aberdeen and the University of Glasgow, eventually graduating as a Doctor of Medicine. After graduating he took the teaching role of prodissector to Professor of Anatomy, Dr Allen Thomas, at Glasgow University in 1873.

He was recommended for the post of Professor of Botany at Calcutta University by Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker. He accepted and moved to India in late 1873. Once in India he did not take up the post in Calcutta and instead accepted a botany professorship in Bengal, a post he held until 1884.

As part of the Indian Government service he had a number of other roles.

  • Burma-Manipur Boundary Commission as Medical Officer, 1882
  • Scientific Assistant Secretary, Government of India, 1881
  • in charge of the India Section of the Calcutta International Exhibition, 1884
  • Commissioner, Colonial and Indian Exhibition, London, 1885–86
  • Reporter to Government of India on Economic Products, 1887–1903
  • Governor of Imperial Institute, 1892
  • Editor, The Agricultural Ledger, 1892–1903
  • President, Pharmacological Section of the Indian Medical Congress, 1894
  • in charge of Calcutta Industrial Museum, 1894-03
  • Honorary Secretary, Indigenous Drug Committee of India, 1901
  • Director, Indian Art Exhibition, Delhi, 1903

Probably his magnum opus was A Dictionary of the Economic Products of India. The 9 parts published between 1889-1893 are regarded as the greatest compilation of commercial plants in India and covers both agricultural and non-agricultural plants. An abridged version called The commercial products of India is available online.

Sir George Watt is credited with devising a system of where numbered tags were detached from a field book and could be tied to specimens as they were collected in the field. This made it much simpler to correctly identify the correct specimen with the correct entry in a field book. His system became widely used.

Sir George Watt also published an article Tea and the Tea Plant looking at the commercial varieties of Tea grown in India  in the Journal of the Royal Horticultural Society 32 page 64-93 (1907). The specimens used to illustrate the varieties are held at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

For his services to Indian botany and science he was knighted in 1903.

From his time in India he amassed a sizable personal herbarium of around 20,000 collections which were donated to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. It contains over 150 Type specimens of Indian taxa described by Watt and others.

The archive at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh also holds Watt’s glass plate negative collection of images mostly from his time in India. These contain images relating to his work on Economic Botany, his field collection, temples, architecture and scenes from the country.

'Darjeeling Tukvar tea state manager's bungalow. [c. 1880] Sir George Watt's Indian images. Archive Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

‘Darjeeling Tukvar tea state manager’s bungalow. [c. 1880]
Sir George Watt’s Indian images. Archive Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

'Coolies plucking' [c. 1880s] In Sir George Watt's Indian images. Archive Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

‘Coolies plucking’ [c. 1880s]
In Sir George Watt’s Indian images. Archive Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh










He retired 1906 to Lockerbie in the Dumfries and Galloway but continued to do research and taught aspects of Indian Botany specifically on trees to forestry students at the University of Edinburgh.

In 1907 Watt published a major monograph on the Wild and Cultivated Cotton Plants of the World in which he published many new taxa in the genus Gossypium; he also published new Indian species in the family Primulaceae (Primula, Androsace)

He died in Lockerbie on the 2nd of April 1930.

A number of Indian plant commemorate him including

Rosa giganteum 'Sir George Watt' at Logan Botanic Garden.

Hybrid Rosa ‘Sir George Watt’ growing at Logan Botanic Garden. Photo: Richard Baines Curator at Logan

 Rhododendron wattii Cowan ex G.Watt

Type material at Edinburgh http://data.rbge.org.uk/herb/E00001004

Clematis wattii J.R.Drumm. & Craib

Type Material at Edinburgh http://data.rbge.org.uk/herb/E00346520

Primula wattii King in G.Watt

Type material at Edinburgh http://data.rbge.org.uk/herb/E00024757
Illustration in Curtis Botanical magazine http://biodiversitylibrary.org/page/465801


Further Reading

Entry in TL-2 http://biodiversitylibrary.org/page/33066447

Burkill , I.H. (1930) Obit in Kew Bull. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4107653

Obituary in the Glasgow Herald


Dec 212010
Rosa glomerata. Photo by Tony Garn

Rosa glomerata

The shortest day dawns and we can hope the weather improves with increased day length. The country proverb that when the Holly is prolific with berries we will be in for a long hard winter has certainly proved true this year. The Ilex aquifolium through the garden is laden with berries. The plants are dioecious; male and female flowers on different plants. Welcome sustenance for the bird population when the soil is unavailable to peck through for grubs. Flocks of Waxwings have been observed descending on Rowan trees, Sorbus species, devouring the berries.

A vigorous Rose in the Chinese plant collection showing a proliferation of shiny orange hips is Rosa glomerata. Found growing on a steep north facing mountainside at c. 2420 metres in Sichuan Province, China. It climbs through deciduous woodland canopy composed of Sorbus, Acer, Lithocarpus, Pterocarya and Faxinus spp. to 8 metres.

Feb 152008

Rosa sericea ssp. omeiensis forma pteracantha – the longest sequence of names and the most decorative of thorns are this plant’s claim to fame. As there was no possibility of finding a bunch of twelve red roses in bud in the Garden, this species will have to suffice representing St Valentine’s Day.

R. sericea has a distribution range through the Himalayas into south-west and central China. Our specimens were collected on the Sichuan expedition of 1997.

As can be seen from the two images, the broad, flattened spines are variable in colour, shape and size. In colour they vary from near translucent to a dull brown through many attractive shades of red. The stems are often populated with a multitude of small spines.

This strong-growing rose is best pruned to allow young shoots to regenerate from the base of the plant – the young wood produces the best stem and spine colour. As the wood ages, the colours depreciate in their intensity.

Rosa sericea ssp  omeiensis forma pteracantha - Broad and flattened spines

Rosa sericea ssp omeiensis forma pteracantha – Broad and flattened spines

Rosa sericea - Large and Small spines

Rosa sericea – Large and Small spines


Jul 142007
Hypericum beanii

Hypericum beanii

The top pathway of the Chinese plant collection is buzzing with bees amongst the Hypericum species growing here. All wild collected in China on a selection of expeditions:

  • Hypericum maclarenii an earlier collection, 1987 by Roy Lancaster, lighter yellow petals, interestingly reflexed
  • Hypericum subsessile, again reflexed petals, CLD 1991.
  • Hypericum forrestii cupped yellow petals CLD 894.
  • Hypericum beanii CLD, a mass of yellow flowers, the immature seed pods are bright red. Set under a canopy of Rosa rubus, having a profusion of slightly scented white flowers, reaching to 5metres. Collected by Howick and McNamara in1991, C & W. China