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Botanical Enterprise in the West Indies

    Naturevolume 44pages110111 (1891) | Download Citation



    WE have several times had occasion to mention the mission of Mr. D. Morris, the Assistant Director of the Royal Gardens, Kew, to the West Indies, in connection with the extension and organization of botanical stations in the British colonies of that region; and the Kew Bulletin for May and June, a we have already noted, contains his report thereon. It is a lengthy and interesting document, from which we propose to extract some particulars that may be welcome to our readers, and serve to put on record the reviving enterprise in the development of the natural resources of that part of the Empire. The primary object of Mr. Morris's visit was to settle the practical details. of a scheme for establishing and administering a number of smaller botanical gardens in connection with the larger gardens of Trinidad and Jamaica. The main purpose of these gardens is to raise plants of economic value, suitable for cultivation in the various islands, “and to do all that is possible to encourage a diversified system of cultural industries, and thus relieve the planters from the results inevitable from the fluctuations of prices in the one or two staples to which they have hitherto confined their attention”; but they will also be made, as far as possible, pleasant places of public resort. Mr. Morris met with a hearty reception everywhere, and great interest was manifested in the work by the negro freeholders, in some of the islands, as well as the English colonists. The men in charge of these experimental stations, as they may be called, rather than botanical gardens, are mostly trained men from Kew; and Kew is the centre from which plants and seeds of economic plants likely to succeed in the West Indies are distributed. Mr. Morris left Kew in November last, and returned home at the end of February. Advantage was taken of his outward journey to send by the same ship, under his immediate supervision, a number of Wardian cases filled with Gambier plants. Gambier, it may be added, is the name of a substance used in tanning, obtained from Uncaria Gambier, Roxb.; and the plants had been raised at Kew from seeds received from the Straits Settlements,. several attempts to introduce plants from the East having failed. How the plants were successfully carried to the West Indies we learn from the following passage in the report:—

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