ExpeditionsModern-Day Plant Hunters
From Left: Mark Flanagan,
Windsor Great Park;
Bill McNamara in Yunan Province
Measuring the metasequoia
Two key elements of Quarryhill's mission are to support conservation of endangered Asian plants, and to support scientific plant research. To that end, Quarryhill staff join or lead collecting expeditions into the wilds of Asia at least annually, to collect seeds and plant specimens of endangered and threatened plants.
Quarryhill founder Jane Davenport Jansen traveled to England in 1987 to discuss the possibility of a cooperative expedition to China with representatives from the Royal Botanic Garden, Kew and the Howick Arboretum. She had already arranged for her staff to join Lord Howick that fall in Japan for what would be Quarryhill's first expedition. Kew Gardens was eager to resume field work in China after a long interruption following World War II and the subsequent Cultural Revolution, which had caused China to essentially remained closed until the late 1970's. Kew had already made an expedition to China in 1985 to the province of Guizhou, and was especially interested in exploring the botanically rich province of Sichuan.
During the meeting in 1987 it was agreed that the three parties would begin a series of expeditions to China, starting with Sichuan. All collections would be of wild-origin seed and herbarium specimens only, with appropriate collecting permits secured before hand. They were also concerned with the loss of habitat and hoped to get many endangered species into cultivation before they were lost.
has now participated in more than 23 expeditions to China, eight to
Japan, four in North America, and one each to India, Nepal, and Taiwan.
The results of these cooperative endeavors now grow in arboreta and
botanic gardens throughout Europe, North America, and Japan. And plant
material from the expeditions has been utilized in scientific research
at institutions worldwide. These expeditions are widely recognized as an
important contribution to the understanding and conservation of the
temperate flora of Asia.