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William Lobb

William Lobb

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William Lobb was a Cornish plant collector, employed by Veitch Nurseries
Veitch Nurseries
The Veitch Nurseries were the largest group of family-run plant nurseries in Europe during the 19th century. Started by John Veitch sometime before 1808, the original nursery grew substantially over several decades and was eventually split into two separate businesses - based at Chelsea and...

 of Exeter
Exeter
Exeter is a historic city in Devon, England. It lies within the ceremonial county of Devon, of which it is the county town as well as the home of Devon County Council. Currently the administrative area has the status of a non-metropolitan district, and is therefore under the administration of the...

, who was responsible for the commercial introduction to England of Araucaria araucana
Araucaria araucana
Araucaria araucana is an evergreen tree growing to tall with a trunk diameter. The tree is native to central and southern Chile, western Argentina and south Brazil. Araucaria araucana is the hardiest species in the conifer genus Araucaria...

(the "Monkey-Puzzle" tree) from Chile and the massive Sequoiadendron giganteum ("Wellingtonia") from North America.

He and his brother, Thomas Lobb
Thomas Lobb
Thomas Lobb was a British botanist and, along with his older brother, William Lobb, collected plants for the plant nursery Veitch....

, were the first collectors to be sent out by the Veitch nursery business, with the primary commercial aim of obtaining new species and large quantities of seed. His introductions of the Monkey-Puzzle tree, "Wellingtonia" and many other conifers to Europe earned him the sobriquet
Sobriquet
A sobriquet is a nickname, sometimes assumed, but often given by another. It is usually a familiar name, distinct from a pseudonym assumed as a disguise, but a nickname which is familiar enough such that it can be used in place of a real name without the need of explanation...

 "messenger of the big tree". In addition to his arboreal introductions, he also introduced many garden shrubs and greenhouse plants to Victorian
Victorian era
The Victorian era of British history was the period of Queen Victoria's reign from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. It was a long period of peace, prosperity, refined sensibilities and national self-confidence...

 Europe, including Desfontainia spinosa and Berberis darwinii
Berberis darwinii
Berberis darwinii is a species of barberry in the family Berberidaceae, native to southern South America in southern Chile and Argentina. Common names include Darwin's Barberry and Michay....

, which are still grown today.

Early life


Lobb was born in 1809 at Perranarworthal
Perranarworthal
Perranarworthal is a civil parish and village in Cornwall, United Kingdom. The village is situated approximately four miles northwest of Falmouth and five miles southwest of Truro....

, between Truro
Truro
Truro is a city and civil parish in Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. The city is the centre for administration, leisure and retail in Cornwall, with a population recorded in the 2001 census of 17,431. Truro urban statistical area, which includes parts of surrounding parishes, has a 2001 census...

 and Falmouth
Falmouth, Cornwall
Falmouth is a town, civil parish and port on the River Fal on the south coast of Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. It has a total resident population of 21,635.Falmouth is the terminus of the A39, which begins some 200 miles away in Bath, Somerset....

, Cornwall
Cornwall
Cornwall is a unitary authority and ceremonial county of England, within the United Kingdom. It is bordered to the north and west by the Celtic Sea, to the south by the English Channel, and to the east by the county of Devon, over the River Tamar. Cornwall has a population of , and covers an area of...

 and spent his early life at Egloshayle
Egloshayle
Egloshayle is a civil parish and village in north Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. The village is situated beside the River Camel immediately southeast of Wadebridge. The civil parish extends southeast from the village and includes Washaway and Sladesbridge.-History:Egloshayle was a Bronze Age...

, near Wadebridge
Wadebridge
Wadebridge is a civil parish and town in north Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. The town straddles the River Camel five miles upstream from Padstow....

. His father, John Lobb, was the estate carpenter at nearby Pencarrow
Pencarrow
Pencarrow is a country house in north Cornwall, United Kingdom. It is situated three miles east-southeast of Wadebridge and three miles north-northwest of Bodmin...

 where a notable garden had been developed by Sir William Molesworth
William Molesworth
Sir William Molesworth, 8th Baronet PC , was a British politician.-Background:Molesworth was born in London and succeeded to the baronetcy in 1823. He was educated privately before entering St John's College, Cambridge as a fellow commoner. Moving to Trinity College, he fought a duel with his...

. John developed a love of gardening and, after losing his place at Pencarrow, he took up employment at Carclew House
Carclew House
Carclew House, one of Britain's lost houses, was a large Palladian county house near Mylor in Cornwall, United Kingdom. It was situated at approximately three miles north of Falmouth....

, near Falmouth
Falmouth, Cornwall
Falmouth is a town, civil parish and port on the River Fal on the south coast of Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. It has a total resident population of 21,635.Falmouth is the terminus of the A39, which begins some 200 miles away in Bath, Somerset....

, the home of Sir Charles Lemon
Charles Lemon
Sir Charles Lemon, 2nd Baronet Lemon of Carclew was a British Member of Parliament for several constituencies and a baronet.-Service in Parliament:...

. Sir Charles would later be amongst the first people in England to receive and grow rhododendron
Rhododendron
Rhododendron is a genus of over 1 000 species of woody plants in the heath family, most with showy flowers...

 seed from Sir Joseph Hooker
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker OM, GCSI, CB, MD, FRS was one of the greatest British botanists and explorers of the 19th century. Hooker was a founder of geographical botany, and Charles Darwin's closest friend...

, who had sent seed directly to Sir Charles from his Himalayan expedition of 1848–1850.

William, along with his younger brother Thomas
Thomas Lobb
Thomas Lobb was a British botanist and, along with his older brother, William Lobb, collected plants for the plant nursery Veitch....

, worked in the stove-houses at Carclew where Sir Charles encouraged the Lobb boys in their study of horticulture
Horticulture
Horticulture is the industry and science of plant cultivation including the process of preparing soil for the planting of seeds, tubers, or cuttings. Horticulturists work and conduct research in the disciplines of plant propagation and cultivation, crop production, plant breeding and genetic...

 and botany
Botany
Botany, plant science, or plant biology is a branch of biology that involves the scientific study of plant life. Traditionally, botany also included the study of fungi, algae and viruses...

. In 1837, William was engaged by Mr Stephen Davey of Redruth
Redruth
Redruth is a town and civil parish traditionally in the Penwith Hundred in Cornwall, United Kingdom. It has a population of 12,352. Redruth lies approximately at the junction of the A393 and A3047 roads, on the route of the old London to Land's End trunk road , and is approximately west of...

, where he helped establish a "thoroughly efficient" horticultural establishment. From there, he moved on to become gardener to the Williams family
Williams family of Caerhays and Burncoose
The Williams family of Caerhays and Burncoose, were, for several generations, dominant in the Cornish Industrial Revolution as owners of mines and smelting works...

 at Scorrier House
Scorrier
Scorrier is a village in Cornwall, in the United Kingdom. It is about 2 miles northeast of the centre of Redruth and 3 miles south-east of the coast at Porthtowan, on the A30 road at the junction of the A3047 road that leads west to Camborne and the B3298 road south to Carharrack...

, near Falmouth
Falmouth, Cornwall
Falmouth is a town, civil parish and port on the River Fal on the south coast of Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. It has a total resident population of 21,635.Falmouth is the terminus of the A39, which begins some 200 miles away in Bath, Somerset....

. He gained a reputation as a keen amateur botanist and assembled a fine collection of dried specimens of British plants, particularly Cornish fern
Fern
A fern is any one of a group of about 12,000 species of plants belonging to the botanical group known as Pteridophyta. Unlike mosses, they have xylem and phloem . They have stems, leaves, and roots like other vascular plants...

s, but had an increasing desire to travel abroad and to discover unknown "vegetation".

By the late 1830s, James Veitch had established his plant nursery at Mount Radford, Exeter
Exeter
Exeter is a historic city in Devon, England. It lies within the ceremonial county of Devon, of which it is the county town as well as the home of Devon County Council. Currently the administrative area has the status of a non-metropolitan district, and is therefore under the administration of the...

 and was looking for ways to extend the range of plants on offer, thus improving the profitability of the business. After correspondence with the eminent botanist Sir William Hooker
William Jackson Hooker
Sir William Jackson Hooker, FRS was an English systematic botanist and organiser. He held the post of Regius Professor of Botany at Glasgow University, and was the first Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. He enjoyed the friendship and support of Sir Joseph Banks for his exploring,...

 about the most suitable destination, Veitch decided to employ his own plant hunter to gather exotic plants from South America exclusively for his nursery. William's brother Thomas had been employed by Veitch since 1830 and recommended William to Veitch. Veitch was impressed by William's keen manner and horticultural knowledge; according to the account in Hortus Veitchii, William:
"was quick of observation, ready in resources, and practical in their application; he had devoted much of his leisure to the study of botany, in which considerable proficiency had been acquired."


Veitch decided that William, despite not being a trained botanist, would prove a steady, industrious and dependable collector. He therefore booked him a passage on HM Packet Seagull, which was to set sail from Falmouth on 7 November 1840, bound for Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro , commonly referred to simply as Rio, is the capital city of the State of Rio de Janeiro, the second largest city of Brazil, and the third largest metropolitan area and agglomeration in South America, boasting approximately 6.3 million people within the city proper, making it the 6th...

 and Lobb thus became the first of a long line of plant collectors to be sent out by the Veitch family to all corners of the world. James Veitch was anxious to ensure that Lobb should not be "cramped for funds" and arranged for an annual allowance of £400 to be made available to draw on in the large cities along his planned itinerary.

Before his departure, Lobb visited Kew Gardens where he was taught how to make herbarium
Herbarium
In botany, a herbarium – sometimes known by the Anglicized term herbar – is a collection of preserved plant specimens. These specimens may be whole plants or plant parts: these will usually be in a dried form, mounted on a sheet, but depending upon the material may also be kept in...

 specimens by placing plant material between special papers.

Brazil and Argentina


Lobb took with him seeds of the early Rhododendron
Rhododendron
Rhododendron is a genus of over 1 000 species of woody plants in the heath family, most with showy flowers...

hybrid "Cornish Early Red" (R. arboreum
Rhododendron arboreum
Rhododendron arboreum is an evergreen shrub or small tree with a showy display of bright red flowers. It is found in Bhutan, China, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Rhododendron arboreum is also the national flower of Nepal.-Description:Its name means "tending to be woody or growing in a...

x R. ponticum
Rhododendron ponticum
Rhododendron ponticum, called Common Rhododendron or Pontic Rhododendron, is a species of Rhododendron native to southern Europe and southwest Asia.-Description:...

) as a gift from Veitch to the new emperor of Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

, Pedro II
Pedro II of Brazil
Dom Pedro II , nicknamed "the Magnanimous", was the second and last ruler of the Empire of Brazil, reigning for over 58 years. Born in Rio de Janeiro, he was the seventh child of Emperor Dom Pedro I of Brazil and Empress Dona Maria Leopoldina and thus a member of the Brazilian branch of...

. The seeds were planted in the gardens of the Imperial Palace at Petrópolis
Petrópolis
Petrópolis , also known as The Imperial City of Brazil, is a town in the state of Rio de Janeiro, about 65 km from the city of Rio de Janeiro....

 where they are still growing today.

Following his arrival at Rio de Janeiro, Lobb spent 1841 exploring the Serra dos Órgãos
Serra dos Órgãos
Serra dos Órgãos is a mountain range in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which was turned into a national park in 1939. It is located about a one-hour drive from the city of Rio de Janeiro....

 (Organ Mountains) to the north-east of the port where he discovered several orchids including the swan orchid, Cycnoches pentadactylon
Cycnoches pentadactylon
Cycnoches pentadactylon is a species of orchid....

, as well as Begonia coccinea
Begonia coccinea
Begonia coccinea is a species of plant in the Begoniaceae family....

and Passiflora actinia
Passiflora actinia
Passiflora actinia species of passion flower of the Passifloraceae. It flowers mainly in early spring.P. actinia is an evergreen vine. Its fruit is edible....

. His first shipment of discoveries, which arrived at Topsham
Topsham, Devon
Topsham is a suburb of Exeter in the county of Devon, England, on the east side of the River Exe, immediately north of its confluence with the River Clyst and the former's estuary, between Exeter and Exmouth. Although village-sized, with a current population of around 5,023, it was designated a...

 dock in March 1841, also included a new species of alstroemeria
Alstroemeria
Alstroemeria , commonly called the Peruvian Lily or Lily of the Incas, is a South American genus of about 120 species of flowering plants. Almost all of the species are restricted to one of two distinct centers of diversity, one in central Chile, the other in eastern Brazil...

, an oncidium
Oncidium
Oncidium, abbreviated as Onc. in the horticultural trade, is a genus that contains about 330 species of orchids from the subtribe Oncidiinae of the orchid family . This is a complex, difficult genus, with many species being reclassified...

, O. curtum (with yellow flowers and cinnamon-brown markings), and a new red salvia
Salvia
Salvia is the largest genus of plants in the mint family, Lamiaceae, with approximately 700-900 species of shrubs, herbaceous perennials, and annuals. It is one of several genera commonly referred to as sage. When used without modifiers, sage generally refers to Salvia officinalis ; however, it is...

. There were also several species of the beautiful pink-flowered climber mandevilla
Mandevilla
Mandevilla is a genus of plants belonging to the family Apocynaceae, the Periwinkle family. It consists of about 100 species, mostly tropical and subtropical flowering vines....

, including M. splendens
Mandevilla splendens
Mandevilla splendens, also called Dipladenia splendens, is an evergeen vine belonging to the Mandevilla genus and native to Brazil....

, which would become highly sought after for cultivation in England, and the small shrub Hindsia violacea, with its clusters of ultramarine flowers, which quickly became popular in Victorian
Victorian era
The Victorian era of British history was the period of Queen Victoria's reign from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. It was a long period of peace, prosperity, refined sensibilities and national self-confidence...

 greenhouse
Greenhouse
A greenhouse is a building in which plants are grown. These structures range in size from small sheds to very large buildings...

s. The next shipment arrived at Topsham in May but had been delayed at Rio de Janeiro and, as a result, many of the plants failed to survive the journey, arriving dead or "vegetated".

Later in 1841, Lobb travelled by boat to Argentina, where he spent the winter exploring the area around Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is the capital and largest city of Argentina, and the second-largest metropolitan area in South America, after São Paulo. It is located on the western shore of the estuary of the Río de la Plata, on the southeastern coast of the South American continent...

. In January 1842, he sent back five cases of plants, seeds and dried specimens, but unfortunately the ship was unable to dock at Exeter as expected and continued on to Leith
Leith
-South Leith v. North Leith:Up until the late 16th century Leith , comprised two separate towns on either side of the river....

 in Scotland, from where the packages eventually reached Exeter.

Lobb then travelled overland to Chile via Mendoza
Mendoza, Argentina
Mendoza is the capital city of Mendoza Province, in Argentina. It is located in the northern-central part of the province, in a region of foothills and high plains, on the eastern side of the Andes. As of the , Mendoza's population was 110,993...

 and the Uspallata Pass
Uspallata Pass
The Uspallata Pass or Bermejo Pass is an Andean pass which provides a route between the wine-growing region around the Argentine city of Mendoza, the Chilean city Los Andes and Santiago the Chilean capital situated in the central Chilean valley...

 over the Andes
Andes
The Andes is the world's longest continental mountain range. It is a continual range of highlands along the western coast of South America. This range is about long, about to wide , and of an average height of about .Along its length, the Andes is split into several ranges, which are separated...

, thus avoiding the perilous sea voyage around Cape Horn
Cape Horn
Cape Horn is the southernmost headland of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago of southern Chile, and is located on the small Hornos Island...

. Lobb found the journey through the mountains gruelling, having to travel though snow that he described as "five feet deep, frozen so hard that the mules made no impression and the cold was intense", causing him to collapse ill with fever on several occasions.

Chile



James Veitch's instructions to Lobb included a request to locate and bring back seeds of the "Chile pine" (more popularly known as the Monkey-Puzzle Tree) (Araucaria araucana
Araucaria araucana
Araucaria araucana is an evergreen tree growing to tall with a trunk diameter. The tree is native to central and southern Chile, western Argentina and south Brazil. Araucaria araucana is the hardiest species in the conifer genus Araucaria...

) which had originally been introduced to Britain by Archibald Menzies
Archibald Menzies
Archibald Menzies was a Scottish surgeon, botanist and naturalist.- Life and career :Menzies was born at Easter Stix in the parish of Weem, in Perthshire. While working with his elder brother William at the Royal Botanic Gardens, he drew the attention of Dr John Hope, professor of botany at...

 in 1795. Veitch had seen a young specimen at Kew Gardens grown from seed brought back by the Horticultural Society
Royal Horticultural Society
The Royal Horticultural Society was founded in 1804 in London, England as the Horticultural Society of London, and gained its present name in a Royal Charter granted in 1861 by Prince Albert...

's collector James McRae in 1826, and was convinced that this tree would be hugely popular as an ornamental plant
Ornamental plant
Ornamental plants are plants that are grown for decorative purposes in gardens and landscape design projects, as house plants, for cut flowers and specimen display...

.

Once Lobb had recovered from the ordeal of his Andean crossing he left Valparaíso
Valparaíso
Valparaíso is a city and commune of Chile, center of its third largest conurbation and one of the country's most important seaports and an increasing cultural center in the Southwest Pacific hemisphere. The city is the capital of the Valparaíso Province and the Valparaíso Region...

 and travelled south by steamship to Concepción
Concepción, Chile
Concepción is a city in Chile, capital of Concepción Province and of the Biobío Region or Region VIII. Greater Concepción is the second-largest conurbation in the country, with 889,725 inhabitants...

 from where he set off to the forests of the Araucanía Region
Araucanía Region
The IX Araucanía Region is one of Chile's 15 first order administrative divisions and comprises two provinces: Malleco in the north and Cautín in the south....

. At 5,250 feet, he reached his destination where the sought-after Araucaria araucana was growing on the exposed ridges below the snow-capped volcanic peaks of the southern Andes. Lobb collected over 3,000 seeds by shooting cones from the trees while his porters gathered fallen nuts from the ground. Lobb then returned to Valparaíso with the sacks containing the seeds and personally saw them onto a ship bound for England. The shipment arrived safely at Exeter and by 1843 Veitch was offering seedlings for sale at £10 per 100.

Unknown to his employers, Lobb also sent seeds back to his former employers, Sir Charles Lemon
Charles Lemon
Sir Charles Lemon, 2nd Baronet Lemon of Carclew was a British Member of Parliament for several constituencies and a baronet.-Service in Parliament:...

 at Carclew
Carclew House
Carclew House, one of Britain's lost houses, was a large Palladian county house near Mylor in Cornwall, United Kingdom. It was situated at approximately three miles north of Falmouth....

 and John Williams
Williams family of Caerhays and Burncoose
The Williams family of Caerhays and Burncoose, were, for several generations, dominant in the Cornish Industrial Revolution as owners of mines and smelting works...

 at Scorrier
Scorrier
Scorrier is a village in Cornwall, in the United Kingdom. It is about 2 miles northeast of the centre of Redruth and 3 miles south-east of the coast at Porthtowan, on the A30 road at the junction of the A3047 road that leads west to Camborne and the B3298 road south to Carharrack...

, where a plantation of Monkey-Puzzle trees was grown.

During 1842, Lobb collected from the Valparaíso area and sent back seeds of a purple nasturtium
Nasturtium
Tropaeolum , commonly known as Nasturtium literally "nose-twister" or "nose-tweaker"), is a genus of roughly 80 species of annual and perennial herbaceous flowering plants and the only genus in the family Tropaeolaceae...

 climber, Tropaeolum azureum, which he located at "Cuesta Dormeda, about sixteen leagues
League (unit)
A league is a unit of length . It was long common in Europe and Latin America, but it is no longer an official unit in any nation. The league originally referred to the distance a person or a horse could walk in an hour...

 (50 miles) from Valparaíso"
. He also sent the pale-blue mallow
Malvaceae
Malvaceae, or the mallow family, is a family of flowering plants containing over 200 genera with close to 2,300 species. Judd & al. Well known members of this family include okra, jute and cacao...

, Abutilon vitifolium, and the white, rosemary
Rosemary
Rosemary, , is a woody, perennial herb with fragrant, evergreen, needle-like leaves and white, pink, purple or blue flowers, native to the Mediterranean region. It is a member of the mint family Lamiaceae, which includes many other herbs, and is one of two species in the genus Rosmarinus...

–scented Calceolaria alba, which was the forerunner of many calceolaria
Calceolaria
Calceolaria L. , also called Lady's purse, Slipper flower and Pocketbook flower, or Slipperwort, is a genus of plants in the Calceolariaceae family, sometimes classified in Scrophulariaceae by some authors...

s
which were to become popular as summer bedding plants.

Lobb then travelled by steamship to Talcahuano
Talcahuano
Talcahuano is a port city and commune in the Biobío Region of Chile. It is part of the Greater Concepción conurbation. Talcahuano is located in the south of the Central Zone of Chile.-Geography:...

 and then to Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

, from where he went inland towards the mountains following the Laja River
Laja River (Chile)
Laja River is a river in Chile, along which can be found the Laja Falls. It is located in the Bío-Bío Region. The source of the river is Laguna del Laja in the Andes, then flows westward through the Chilean Central Valley and terminates into the Bío-Bío River, being an important tributary of...

 upstream to the Antuco volcano
Antuco (volcano)
Antuco Volcano is a stratovolcano located in the Bío-Bío Region of Chile, near Sierra Velluda and on the shore of Laguna del Laja.- In literature :* The Voyage of the Beagle by Charles Darwin* Les Enfants du capitaine Grant by Jules Verne...

. He then followed the Andes to Santa Bárbara
Santa Bárbara, Chile
Santa Bárbara is a Chilean city and commune in Biobío Province, Biobío Region. In 2004 a great portion of its territory was taken off to form the new commune of Alto Biobío.-History:...

 regularly making excursions up to the snow line
Snow line
The climatic snow line is the point above which snow and ice cover the ground throughout the year. The actual snow line may seasonally be significantly lower....

. Lobb found this expedition exhausting and the eventual shipment back to England was disappointing with only one significant new discovery, a magenta flowering perennial Calandrinia umbellata.

Lobb's travels then continued through northern Chile, where he discovered Desfontainia spinosa, before moving on through Peru to Ecuador.

Peru, Ecuador and Panama


En route, he collected the Passion flower
Passion flower
Passiflora, known also as the passion flowers or passion vines, is a genus of about 500 species of flowering plants, the namesakes of the family Passifloraceae. They are mostly vines, with some being shrubs, and a few species being herbaceous. For information about the fruit of the passiflora...

, Passiflora mollissima (now P. tripartita var. mollissima), which became popular in greenhouses, and the delicate Calceolaria amplexicaulis
Calceolaria amplexicaulis
Calceolaria amplexicaulis is a perennial plant belonging to family Calceolariaceae and native to the Peruvian Andes. The genus Calceolaria has been recently segregated from other members of the Scrophulariaceae, along with Porodittia, and Jovellana into its own family.Calceolaria amplexicaulis can...

.

In the spring of 1843, he took four cases of plants, which he had collected on the slopes of the Peruvian Andes, by sea to the Ecuadorian port of Guayaquil
Guayaquil
Guayaquil , officially Santiago de Guayaquil , is the largest and the most populous city in Ecuador,with about 2.3 million inhabitants in the city and nearly 3.1 million in the metropolitan area, as well as that nation's main port...

. While he was there, an epidemic of yellow fever
Yellow fever
Yellow fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic disease. The virus is a 40 to 50 nm enveloped RNA virus with positive sense of the Flaviviridae family....

 broke out and, along with other European residents, he was forced to move to Puná Island
Puná Island
Puná Island is an Island off the coast of southern Ecuador at approximately 80 degrees west longitude and 3 degrees south latitude. It is located at the head of the Gulf of Guayaquil, south of the mouth of the Guayas River and the city of Guayaquil, Ecuador's largest city and chief port...

 until the epidemic was over, leaving his cases with a shipping agent to send to England. On leaving Puná, Lobb hired mules and a guide and travelled inland to Quito
Quito
San Francisco de Quito, most often called Quito , is the capital city of Ecuador in northwestern South America. It is located in north-central Ecuador in the Guayllabamba river basin, on the eastern slopes of Pichincha, an active stratovolcano in the Andes mountains...

 and on into southwestern Colombia.

He eventually reached the port of Tumaco
Tumaco
Tumaco is a port city and municipality in the Nariño Department, Colombia, by the Pacific Ocean. It is located on the southwestern of Colombia, near to border with Ecuador, and enjoys of hot tropical climate...

, with a further collection of plants, from where he sailed for Panama
Panama
Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

 intending to travel on with his latest finds back to England. On arriving at Panama City
Panama City
Panama is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Panama. It has a population of 880,691, with a total metro population of 1,272,672, and it is located at the Pacific entrance of the Panama Canal, in the province of the same name. The city is the political and administrative center of the...

 however, he received news from James Veitch that the cases of plants left in Guayaquil had never arrived. Lobb therefore despatched his latest collection from Panama (which arrived safely at Exeter) and awaited instructions from Veitch.

Amongst the shipments from Panama were several orchids including Oncidium ampliatum collected near Panama City, described by Veitch in a letter to Hooker
William Jackson Hooker
Sir William Jackson Hooker, FRS was an English systematic botanist and organiser. He held the post of Regius Professor of Botany at Glasgow University, and was the first Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. He enjoyed the friendship and support of Sir Joseph Banks for his exploring,...

 as arriving "quite fresh but others are rotten", a blue-azure clitoria
Clitoria
Clitoria is a genus of flowering plants that are insect pollinated.-Distribution and uses:These plants are native to tropical and temperate areas of the Old World....

and a "lobelia
Lobelia
Lobelia is a genus of flowering plant comprising 360–400 species, with a subcosmopolitan distribution primarily in tropical to warm temperate regions of the world, a few species extending into cooler temperate regions...

"
, Centropogon coccineus, which he found growing "in shady places on the banks of the Chagres River
Chagres River
The Chagres River is a river in central Panama. The central part of the river is dammed by the Gatun Dam and forms Gatun Lake, an artificial lake that constitutes part of the Panama Canal. Upstream lies the Madden Dam, creating the Alajuala Lake that is also part of the Canal water system...

"
as well as seeds of several fuchsia
Fuchsia
Fuchsia is a genus of flowering plants that consists mostly of shrubs or small trees. The first, Fuchsia triphylla, was discovered on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola in 1703 by the French Minim monk and botanist, Charles Plumier...

s
and tropaeolum.

While waiting in Panama, Lobb continued to seek out new plants despite suffering from an attack of dysentery
Dysentery
Dysentery is an inflammatory disorder of the intestine, especially of the colon, that results in severe diarrhea containing mucus and/or blood in the faeces with fever and abdominal pain. If left untreated, dysentery can be fatal.There are differences between dysentery and normal bloody diarrhoea...

. Once he had recovered, he returned to Guayaquil where he discovered all his cases rotting in a corner of a warehouse, with much of the contents destroyed by ants. The agent explained that the cases had "quite escaped his notice". Lobb was able to rescue some of the seeds, bulbs and dried specimens which he sent to Exeter. Veitch replied by sending back a supply of glass to make new shipping cases and insisting that Lobb endeavour to replace everything that was lost.

Despite being exhausted from his travels and repeated attacks of ill health, Lobb returned to the interior of Peru for a further four months, finally arriving back in England in May 1844. On Lobb's return to Exeter, Veitch wrote to Hooker:
"I was disappointed at hearing William Lobb had left Peru, but pleased to hear of his safe arrival in England with many plants and seeds in good order. He reached Exeter with his plants on Saturday and is now gone to his friends."


Amongst the dried samples sent back to England was one of Solanum lobbianum which was sent to Kew Gardens where it was labelled as "Lobb Columbia". It was named after its discoverer by Georg Bitter (1873–1927), the German expert on Solanum
Solanum
Solanum, the nightshades, horsenettles and relatives, is a large and diverse genus of annual and perennial plants. They grow as forbs, vines, subshrubs, shrubs, and small trees, and often have attractive fruit and flowers. Many formerly independent genera like Lycopersicon or Cyphomandra are...

, based on the single specimen at Kew. For a long time there was some doubt about the actual location of the plant's discovery until it was re-discovered in Ecuador by an American expedition in the 1990s.

South America (1845–1848)



After a period of rest and recuperation, Lobb returned to work in the Exeter glasshouses planting out and nurturing his introductions. By April 1845, his health had fully recovered and he was again despatched to South America with instructions to collect hardy and half-hardy trees and shrubs. After sending home from Rio Janeiro a consignment of plants collected in southern Brazil, he travelled by sea to Valparaíso in Chile from where he initially visited the montane forests of the Colombian Andes
Andean Region of Colombia
The Andes mountains form the most populated region of Colombia and contain the majority of the country's urban centres. They were also the location of the most significant pre-Columbian indigenous settlement...

 before visiting the extreme south of Chile from the shores of Tierra del Fuego
Tierra del Fuego
Tierra del Fuego is an archipelago off the southernmost tip of the South American mainland, across the Strait of Magellan. The archipelago consists of a main island Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego divided between Chile and Argentina with an area of , and a group of smaller islands including Cape...

 to the southern coastal islands.

From the Valdivian temperate rain forests
Valdivian temperate rain forests
The Valdivian temperate rain forests are a temperate broadleaf and mixed-forest ecoregion located on the west coast of southern South America, lying mostly in Chile and extending into a small part of Argentina. It is part of the Neotropic ecozone. The forests are named after the city of Valdivia...

 of Chile, Lobb brought back the Chilean firebush (Embothrium coccineum
Embothrium coccineum
Chilean firetree, Chilean firebush, Notro in Spanish , is a small evergreen tree in the family Proteaceae. It grows in the temperate forests of Chile and Argentina....

), the Chilean bellflower (Lapageria rosea) (the national flower of Chile), the Flame nasturtium (Tropaeolum speciosum) and the Chilean Lantern Tree (Crinodendron hookerianum
Crinodendron hookerianum
Crinodendron hookerianum known as Chilean Lantern Tree is an evergreen tree endemic to Chile in the Elaeocarpaceae family, it grows from Cautin to Palena . It occurs near streams or very humid sites or highly shady places.-Description:...

). He also collected seeds of three species of myrtle
Myrtaceae
The Myrtaceae or Myrtle family are a family of dicotyledon plants, placed within the order Myrtales. Myrtle, clove, guava, feijoa, allspice, and eucalyptus belong here. All species are woody, with essential oils, and flower parts in multiples of four or five...

 tree, Luma apiculata
Luma apiculata
Luma apiculata, is a species of tree in the genus Luma in the family Myrtaceae, native to the central Andes mountains between Chile and Argentina between 33 and 45° South Latitude. Synonyms include Myrtus luma Mol., Eugenia apiculata DC., Myrceugenia apiculata Niedenzu, and Myrceugenella...

, Ugni molinae
Ugni molinae
Ugni molinae, commonly known as Chilean guava, or strawberry myrtle, is a shrub native to Chile and adjacent regions of southern Argentina. The Mapuche Native American name is "Uñi"...

and Luma chequen
Luma chequen
Luma chequen is a species of flowering plant in the genus Luma in the family Myrtaceae, native to the central Andes mountains between Chile and Argentina, at latitudes located 30 to 41º South. Synonyms include Eugenia chequen Molina, Myrtus chequen Spreng., and Luma gayana Burret...

as well as "four most interesting Conifers for this country ... that South America produces" – the Guaitecas
Guaitecas Archipelago
Guaitecas Archipelago is an archipelago in the municipality of Guaitecas in the Aisén province. The Ciprés de las Guaitecas tree is named after the archipelago. The only settlement in the archipelago is Melinka....

 cypress (Pilgerodendron uviferum), the Patagonian Cypress (Fitzroya cupressoides), "Prince Albert's Yew" (Saxegothaea conspicua) and Podocarpus nubigenus
Podocarpus nubigenus
Podocarpus nubigenus is a species of podocarp, endemic to the Valdivian temperate rain forests of southern Chile and adjacent southwestern Argentina. It is the southernmost podocarp in the world, It grows from 38° to Ultima Esperanza , It grows in wet and swampy soils...

as well as seeds of the hardy "Antarctic Beech" (Nothofagus antarctica
Nothofagus antarctica
Nothofagus antarctica , is a deciduous tree or shrub native to southern Chile and Argentina from about 36°S to Tierra del Fuego . The southernmost occurrence is on Hoste Island, making it the southernmost trees on earth...

) and several other shrubs including Escallonia macrantha.


From a visit to Chiloé Island
Chiloé Island
Chiloé Island , also known as Greater Island of Chiloé , is the largest island of the Chiloé Archipelago off the coast of Chile, in the Pacific Ocean...

, Lobb introduced Berberis darwinii
Berberis darwinii
Berberis darwinii is a species of barberry in the family Berberidaceae, native to southern South America in southern Chile and Argentina. Common names include Darwin's Barberry and Michay....

which had been discovered in 1835 by Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin FRS was an English naturalist. He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestry, and proposed the scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection.He published his theory...

 during the voyage of HMS Beagle
Second voyage of HMS Beagle
The second voyage of HMS Beagle, from 27 December 1831 to 2 October 1836, was the second survey expedition of HMS Beagle, under captain Robert FitzRoy who had taken over command of the ship on its first voyage after her previous captain committed suicide...

. According to the Gardeners' Chronicle
The Gardeners' Chronicle
The Gardeners' Chronicle was a British horticulture periodical. It lasted as a title in its own right for nearly 150 years and is still extant as part of the magazine Horticulture Week....

:
"If Messrs. Veitch had done nothing else towards beautifying our gardens, the introduction of this single species would be enough to earn the gratitude of the whole gardening world."


Lobb's finds were despatched to England where they were grown in Veitch's Exeter nursery before being sold to eager gardeners. Many of his discoveries have endured and remain popular garden shrubs today. One glasshouse at the Exeter nursery was reserved exclusively for William Lobb's discoveries, where James Veitch would tend the new plants and identify those that would become a commercial success and those that would be merely of botanical interest. Amongst the plants sent back by Lobb were two species of Cantua
Cantua
Cantua is a genus of flowering plants in the family Polemoniaceae which is in the order Ericales.They are restricted to central South America where many species are endemics in the countries of occurrence....

which he found growing in Bolivia, Chile and the Peruvian Andes; C. buxifolia (the "Magic-flower") which was the first to flower in May 1848 and the bushy C. bicolor, with its large golden-red trumpet flowers.

There were also other species of nasturtium
Nasturtium
Tropaeolum , commonly known as Nasturtium literally "nose-twister" or "nose-tweaker"), is a genus of roughly 80 species of annual and perennial herbaceous flowering plants and the only genus in the family Tropaeolaceae...

, including Tropaeolum umbellatum
Tropaeolum umbellatum
Tropaeolum umbellatum is a species of plant in the Tropaeolaceae family. It is endemic to Ecuador. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist montanes.-Source:* Santiana, J. & Pitman, N. 2004. . Downloaded on 23 August 2007....

from Ecuador, with its orange-tipped red flowers, and what was thought to be an unknown species which was named Tropaeolum lobbianum by Hooker after its discoverer, although this was later found to be a synonym for T. peltophorum previously discovered by Karl Theodor Hartweg
Karl Theodor Hartweg
Karl Theodor Hartweg was a German botanist. He collected numerous new species of plants in Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico and California in the United States, collecting for the London Horticultural Society...

.

At the beginning of 1848, William Lobb arrived back in England and was re-united with his brother Thomas
Thomas Lobb
Thomas Lobb was a British botanist and, along with his older brother, William Lobb, collected plants for the plant nursery Veitch....

 for the first time since setting off for Brazil in November 1840. Thomas in the meantime had also been despatched by Veitch to collect plants in Malaysia and Indonesia and had returned a few months earlier.

North America (1849–1853)


In 1849, Veitch decided to send William Lobb to collect in the cooler climate of North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

 in order to find conifers and hardy shrubs in Oregon
Oregon
Oregon is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is located on the Pacific coast, with Washington to the north, California to the south, Nevada on the southeast and Idaho to the east. The Columbia and Snake rivers delineate much of Oregon's northern and eastern...

, Nevada
Nevada
Nevada is a state in the western, mountain west, and southwestern regions of the United States. With an area of and a population of about 2.7 million, it is the 7th-largest and 35th-most populous state. Over two-thirds of Nevada's people live in the Las Vegas metropolitan area, which contains its...

 and California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, "with a view of obtaining seeds of all the most important kinds known, and, if possible, discover others." Lobb reached San Francisco in the summer of 1849, at the height of the California Gold Rush
California Gold Rush
The California Gold Rush began on January 24, 1848, when gold was found by James W. Marshall at Sutter's Mill in Coloma, California. The first to hear confirmed information of the gold rush were the people in Oregon, the Sandwich Islands , and Latin America, who were the first to start flocking to...

; when he arrived the harbour was choked with hundreds of ships, abandoned by their crews who had joined the hopeful prospectors afflicted with "gold fever". Lobb soon left the lawless port and set off in search of "horticultural gold" in Southern California
Southern California
Southern California is a megaregion, or megapolitan area, in the southern area of the U.S. state of California. Large urban areas include Greater Los Angeles and Greater San Diego. The urban area stretches along the coast from Ventura through the Southland and Inland Empire to San Diego...

.

He spent the autumn of 1849 through to early 1851 in the Monterey
Monterey, California
The City of Monterey in Monterey County is located on Monterey Bay along the Pacific coast in Central California. Monterey lies at an elevation of 26 feet above sea level. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 27,810. Monterey is of historical importance because it was the capital of...

 area, including the Santa Lucia Mountains
Santa Lucia Mountains
The Santa Lucia Mountains or Santa Lucia Range is a mountain range in coastal California, running from Monterey southeast for 105 miles to San Luis Obispo. The highest summit is Junipero Serra Peak, in Monterey County...

, where he soon found the striking Santa Lucia Fir (Abies bracteata), later described by Hooker as "among the most remarkable of all true pines". The cones sent back by Lobb were full of seed which were capable of being propagated by Veitch. In 1849, he visited Cone Peak, in Los Padres National Forest
Los Padres National Forest
Los Padres National Forest is a forest located in southern and central California, which includes most of the mountainous land along the California coast from Ventura to Monterey, extending inland...

 where he collected Bristlecone pine
Bristlecone pine
The bristlecone pines are a small group of pine trees that are thought to reach an age far greater than that of any other single living organism known, up to nearly 5,000 years....

s; he also found a new species of Lupin
Lupin
Lupinus, commonly known as Lupins or lupines , is a genus in the legume family . The genus comprises about 280 species , with major centers of diversity in South and western North America , and the Andes and secondary centers in the Mediterranean region and Africa Lupinus, commonly known as Lupins...

, Lupinus cervinus
Lupinus cervinus
Lupinus cervinus is a species of lupine known by the common name Santa Lucia lupine. It is endemic to the Santa Lucia Mountains in the Central Coast Ranges in California, where it is an uncommon member of the flora in the mountain forests. This is a hairy gray-green perennial herb growing up to 30...

(Deer Lupine) which he sold to the California Academy of Sciences
California Academy of Sciences
The California Academy of Sciences is among the largest museums of natural history in the world. The academy began in 1853 as a learned society and still carries out a large amount of original research, with exhibits and education becoming significant endeavors of the museum during the twentieth...

. In 1862, Dr Albert Kellogg
Albert Kellogg
Dr. Albert Kellogg , was an American physician, northern California botanist, and one of seven founders in 1853 of the California Academy of Sciences.-California Academy of Sciences:...

 recognized this as a taxon
Taxon
|thumb|270px|[[African elephants]] form a widely-accepted taxon, the [[genus]] LoxodontaA taxon is a group of organisms, which a taxonomist adjudges to be a unit. Usually a taxon is given a name and a rank, although neither is a requirement...

 hitherto unknown to science. Kellogg noted that this was "a very marked [distinct], fine [attractive], robust species, worthy of cultivation".


In the Monterey
Monterey, California
The City of Monterey in Monterey County is located on Monterey Bay along the Pacific coast in Central California. Monterey lies at an elevation of 26 feet above sea level. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 27,810. Monterey is of historical importance because it was the capital of...

 area Lobb also found Rhododendron occidentale
Rhododendron occidentale
Rhododendron occidentale, the Western Azalea, is one of two deciduous Rhododendron species native to western North America . The Western Azalea is known to occur as far north as Bandon, Oregon. It is found as far south as the Palomar Mountain area in southern California...

, one of only two deciduous
Deciduous
Deciduous means "falling off at maturity" or "tending to fall off", and is typically used in reference to trees or shrubs that lose their leaves seasonally, and to the shedding of other plant structures such as petals after flowering or fruit when ripe...

 Rhododendron
Rhododendron
Rhododendron is a genus of over 1 000 species of woody plants in the heath family, most with showy flowers...

species native to western North America which was to become the parent of many hybrid Rhododendron
Rhododendron
Rhododendron is a genus of over 1 000 species of woody plants in the heath family, most with showy flowers...

s, and a small Horse Chestnut, the California Buckeye (Aesculus californica
Aesculus californica
Aesculus californica is a species of buckeye that is native [ |] to California and southwest Oregon [Jackson, County], and the only buckeye native to these states.-Description:...

). He also sent back seeds of various other conifers, including the Monterey Pine
Monterey Pine
The Monterey Pine, Pinus radiata, family Pinaceae, also known as the Insignis Pine or Radiata Pine is a species of pine native to the Central Coast of California....

 (Pinus radiata), the Bishop Pine
Bishop Pine
The Bishop Pine, Pinus muricata, is a pine with a very restricted range: mostly in the U.S. state of California, including several offshore Channel Islands, and a few locations in Baja California, Mexico...

 (P. muricata), the Gray Pine
Gray Pine
Pinus sabiniana , with the common names gray pine, California foothill pine, and the more historically and internationally used digger pine, is a pine endemic to California in the United States...

 (P. sabiniana), the Coulter Pine
Coulter Pine
The Coulter Pine or Big-cone Pine is a native of the coastal mountains of southern California and northern Baja California . Isolated groves are found as far north as the San Francisco Bay Area in Mt. Diablo State Park and Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve...

 (P. coulteri), and the Knobcone Pine
Knobcone Pine
The Knobcone Pine, Pinus attenuata, is a tree that grows in mild climates on poor soils. It ranges from the mountains of southern Oregon to Baja California with the greatest concentration in northern California and the Oregon-California border....

 (P. attenuata); and also of many shrubs and flowering plants, most quite new to British gardens.

In the autumn of 1851, he moved north collecting large quantities of seed from the Sugar Pine
Sugar Pine
Pinus lambertiana, commonly known as the sugar pine or sugar cone pine, is the tallest and most massive pine, with the longest cones of any conifer...

 (Pinus lambertiana), and the Western White Pine
Western White Pine
Western White Pine, Pinus monticola in the family Pinaceae, is a species of pine that occurs in the mountains of the western United States and Canada, specifically the Sierra Nevada, the Cascade Range, the Coast Range, and the northern Rocky Mountains. The tree extends down to sea level in many...

 (Pinus monticola); he also collected sackfuls of seed from the world's tallest tree, the California Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), which had been first introduced to Britain in 1843.

The following year, he moved further north into the regions explored by David Douglas
David Douglas
David Douglas was a Scottish botanist. He worked as a gardener, and explored the Scottish Highlands, North America, and Hawaii, where he died.-Early life:...

 in the 1820s, including the mountains of Oregon
Oregon
Oregon is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is located on the Pacific coast, with Washington to the north, California to the south, Nevada on the southeast and Idaho to the east. The Columbia and Snake rivers delineate much of Oregon's northern and eastern...

 and the Columbia River
Columbia River
The Columbia River is the largest river in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. The river rises in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia, Canada, flows northwest and then south into the U.S. state of Washington, then turns west to form most of the border between Washington and the state...

. On this expedition he collected seeds of the Noble Fir
Noble Fir
Abies procera, the Noble Fir, is a western North American fir, native to the Cascade Range and Coast Range mountains of extreme northwest California and western Oregon and Washington in the United States...

 (Abies procera) and the Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) as well as three conifers that had been overlooked by Douglas, the Colorado White Fir (Abies concolor), the Red Fir
Red Fir
Abies magnifica, the Red Fir or Silvertip fir, is a western North American fir, native to the mountains of southwest Oregon and California in the United States. It is a high altitude tree, typically occurring at altitude, though only rarely reaching tree line...

 (Abies magnifica) and the Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata
Thuja plicata
Thuja plicata, commonly called Western or pacific red cedar, giant or western arborvitae, giant cedar, or shinglewood, is a species of Thuja, an evergreen coniferous tree in the cypress family Cupressaceae native to western North America...

). On his way back to San Francisco at the end of 1852, he collected seed from the Grand Fir
Grand Fir
Abies grandis is a fir native to the Pacific Northwest and Northern California of North America, occurring at altitudes of sea level to 1,800 m...

 (Abies grandis) and the Ponderosa Pine
Ponderosa Pine
Pinus ponderosa, commonly known as the Ponderosa Pine, Bull Pine, Blackjack Pine, or Western Yellow Pine, is a widespread and variable pine native to western North America. It was first described by David Douglas in 1826, from eastern Washington near present-day Spokane...

 (Pinus ponderosa) and another new discovery, the California Juniper (Juniperus californica
Juniperus californica
Juniperus californica is a species of juniper native to southwestern North America; as the name implies, it is mainly found in California, although its range also extends through most of Baja California, a short distance into the Great Basin in southern Nevada, and western Arizona...

).

Lobb was the first collector to gather seed in bulk from trees that were still rare in England; the amount of viable seed he sent to Exeter enabled Veitch & Sons to grow thousands of seedling trees.

As well as the large number of conifers, Lobb discovered various shrubs including the red Delphinium cardinale
Delphinium cardinale
Delphinium cardinale is a species of larkspur known by the common names scarlet larkspur and cardinal larkspur. This wildflower is native to California and Baja California, where it grows on coastal, inland, and desert chaparral slopes, such as the Colorado Desert, and the Peninsular and Transverse...

, the yellow Fremontodendron californicum, a flowering currant Ribes lobbii
Ribes lobbii
Ribes lobbii is a shrubby, deciduous, shade-intolerant perennial dicot found on the western coast of North America. It was first described in 1876 by Asa Gray...

(named after him) and a collection of Ceanothus
Ceanothus
Ceanothus L. is a genus of about 50–60 species of shrubs or small trees in the buckthorn family Rhamnaceae. The genus is confined to North America, the center of its distribution in California, with some species in the eastern United States and southeast Canada, and others extending as far south...

 including two natural hybrids, C. x lobbianus and C. x veitchianus which he found on the dry slopes and ridges of the high Californian chapparal.

Wellingtonia


In 1853, Lobb was in San Francisco packing his collection of seeds to prepare them for shipment back to England when he received an invitation to a meeting of the newly formed California Academy of Science. At the meeting, Dr Albert Kellogg
Albert Kellogg
Dr. Albert Kellogg , was an American physician, northern California botanist, and one of seven founders in 1853 of the California Academy of Sciences.-California Academy of Sciences:...

 (the academy's founder and a keen amateur botanist) introduced a hunter named Augustus T. Dowd who had brought to him a story of a "Big Tree". Dowd told the audience that in the spring of 1852 he was employed as a hunter by the Union Water Company, of Murphy's Camp
Murphys, California
Murphys is a census-designated place in Calaveras County, California, United States...

, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada in Calaveras County, to supply the workmen, who were engaged in the construction of a canal, with fresh meat. He had been out chasing a large Grizzly Bear
Grizzly Bear
The grizzly bear , also known as the silvertip bear, the grizzly, or the North American brown bear, is a subspecies of brown bear that generally lives in the uplands of western North America...

; the long, hard chase led Dowd into a strange part of the forested hills where he followed the bear into a grove of gigantic trees. Dowd soon lost interest in the chase and wandered around in amazement at the sheer size of the trees surrounding him. On returning to his camp, Dowd told his story to his companions, most of whom did not believe him and accused him of being drunk; a week later, however, he was able to persuade some of the less sceptical to be led to the grove, where they were equally astonished by the monstrous trees.


Lobb immediately realised the impact such a tree would have on British gardens and the importance that his employers would attach to being the first nursery to offer it for sale. After the meeting, he quickly headed to Calaveras Grove where he had the good luck to find a recently fallen tree, which he measured as "about 300 feet in length, 29 feet 2 inches, at 5 feet above the ground...". In his notebooks, Lobb recorded: "From 80 to 90 trees exist all within circuit of a mile, from 250ft. to 320ft. in height, 10–12ft. in diameter." He collected as many seeds, cones, vegetative shoots and seedling
Seedling
thumb|Monocot and dicot seedlingsA seedling is a young plant sporophyte developing out of a plant embryo from a seed. Seedling development starts with germination of the seed. A typical young seedling consists of three main parts: the radicle , the hypocotyl , and the cotyledons...

s as he could carry back to San Francisco, including two small living trees. He then returned to England on the first available boat arriving back in Exeter on 15 December 1853, a year earlier than expected. Lobb had taken a gamble cutting short his contract, knowing that, at the risk of angering his employer, he had to get the seeds to England before anyone else could get back first. The gamble paid off as Veitch was delighted, abandoning all other projects to concentrate on raising the seedlings in commercial quantities. According to Hortus Veitchii, the two sapling trees "survived but three or four years, nor was there at any time much hope of their living."

On Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve refers to the evening or entire day preceding Christmas Day, a widely celebrated festival commemorating the birth of Jesus of Nazareth that takes place on December 25...

 1853, an editorial in The Gardeners' Chronicle
The Gardeners' Chronicle
The Gardeners' Chronicle was a British horticulture periodical. It lasted as a title in its own right for nearly 150 years and is still extant as part of the magazine Horticulture Week....

announced that Veitch & Son "had received branches and cones of a remarkable tree from their collector in California, William Lobb" who had described it as "the monarch of the Californian forest". James Veitch had immediately given specimens of the giant tree to John Lindley
John Lindley
John Lindley FRS was an English botanist, gardener and orchidologist.-Early years:Born in Catton, near Norwich, England, John Lindley was one of four children of George and Mary Lindley. George Lindley was a nurseryman and pomologist and ran a commercial nursery garden...

, professor of botany at the University of London
University of London
-20th century:Shortly after 6 Burlington Gardens was vacated, the University went through a period of rapid expansion. Bedford College, Royal Holloway and the London School of Economics all joined in 1900, Regent's Park College, which had affiliated in 1841 became an official divinity school of the...

 and invited him to name the tree. In the Gardeners' Chronicle article, Lindley named the species Wellingtonia gigantea as a memorial to Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington
Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington
Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, KG, GCB, GCH, PC, FRS , was an Irish-born British soldier and statesman, and one of the leading military and political figures of the 19th century...

 who had died in September the previous year. The "giant amongst trees" was considered an appropriate memorial for such an important British historical figure.

Six months later, the Chronicle reported that Veitch was offering seedlings of the tree at 2 guineas
Guinea (British coin)
The guinea is a coin that was minted in the Kingdom of England and later in the Kingdom of Great Britain and the United Kingdom between 1663 and 1813...

 each or 12 guineas a dozen
Dozen
A dozen is a grouping of approximately twelve. The dozen may be one of the earliest primitive groupings, perhaps because there are approximately a dozen cycles of the moon or months in a cycle of the sun or year...

. Lobb could not claim to be first to introduce the tree to Britain, as a Scot, John Matthew, had taken some seed to Scotland four months earlier although he only distributed the seed among a few friends.

The Victorians
Victorian era
The Victorian era of British history was the period of Queen Victoria's reign from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. It was a long period of peace, prosperity, refined sensibilities and national self-confidence...

 fell in love with the tree in much the same way as they had with the Monkey-Puzzle tree a few years earlier, using it as a specimen tree and often planting it to form avenues, including James Bateman
James Bateman
James Bateman was a landowner and accomplished horticulturist. He developed Biddulph Grange after moving there around 1840, from nearby Knypersley Hall...

 who planted an avenue at Biddulph Grange
Biddulph Grange
Biddulph Grange is a National Trust landscaped gardens, in Biddulph near Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England.-Description:"Behind a gloomy Victorian shrubbery there's a gloomy Victorian mansion, but behind that lurks one of the most extraordinary gardens in Britain...it contains whole...

, alternating Wellingtonia with Monkey-Puzzle trees.

Unfortunately, the name Wellingtonia gigantea was invalid under the botanical code as the name Wellingtonia had already been used earlier for another unrelated plant (Wellingtonia arnottiana in the family Sabiaceae
Sabiaceae
Sabiaceae is a family of flowering plants, native to tropical to warm temperate regions of southern Asia and the Americas.In the Cronquist system the family was placed in the order Ranunculales, but more recent classifications place it as the sole family in the order Sabiales, or , as unplaced to...

). Eventually in 1939, after several attempts to find an acceptable name, the tree was given the name Sequoiadendron giganteum by John Buchholz. In Britain, however, the tree remains known popularly as "Wellingtonia".

Later career and death


By the middle of 1854, James Veitch and his son, James Veitch, Jr.
James Veitch, Jr.
James Veitch was the third in a long line of horticulturists who established the renowned family business Veitch Nurseries....

 (who had acquired premises in Kings Road
Kings Road
King's Road or Kings Road, known popularly as The King's Road or The KR, is a major, well-known street stretching through Chelsea and Fulham, both in west London, England...

, Chelsea, London
Chelsea, London
Chelsea is an area of West London, England, bounded to the south by the River Thames, where its frontage runs from Chelsea Bridge along the Chelsea Embankment, Cheyne Walk, Lots Road and Chelsea Harbour. Its eastern boundary was once defined by the River Westbourne, which is now in a pipe above...

 in 1853), decided that it was time for William and his brother, Thomas, to be sent off again to collect fresh seed and search for yet more new plants. Thomas was sent back to the far East, to Java
Java
Java is an island of Indonesia. With a population of 135 million , it is the world's most populous island, and one of the most densely populated regions in the world. It is home to 60% of Indonesia's population. The Indonesian capital city, Jakarta, is in west Java...

 and North Borneo
North Borneo
North Borneo was a British protectorate under the sovereign North Borneo Chartered Company from 1882 to 1946. After the war it became a crown colony of Great Britain from 1946 to 1963, known in this time as British North Borneo. It is located on the northeastern end of the island of Borneo. It is...

 in search of Nepenthes
Nepenthes
The Nepenthes , popularly known as tropical pitcher plants or monkey cups, are a genus of carnivorous plants in the monotypic family Nepenthaceae. The genus comprises roughly 130 species, numerous natural and many cultivated hybrids...

pitcher plant
Pitcher plant
Pitcher plants are carnivorous plants whose prey-trapping mechanism features a deep cavity filled with liquid known as a pitfall trap. It has been widely assumed that the various sorts of pitfall trap evolved from rolled leaves, with selection pressure favouring more deeply cupped leaves over...

s.

William had been suffering from persistent ill-health for some time – James Veitch remarked that there was "a sort of restlessness about him" – and was exhibiting the symptoms of syphilis
Syphilis
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the spirochete bacterium Treponema pallidum subspecies pallidum. The primary route of transmission is through sexual contact; however, it may also be transmitted from mother to fetus during pregnancy or at birth, resulting in congenital syphilis...

, probably contracted in the ports of South America. In a letter to Sir William Hooker
William Jackson Hooker
Sir William Jackson Hooker, FRS was an English systematic botanist and organiser. He held the post of Regius Professor of Botany at Glasgow University, and was the first Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. He enjoyed the friendship and support of Sir Joseph Banks for his exploring,...

, James Veitch noticed:
"He seems taken with a sort of monomania
Monomania
In 19th century psychiatry, monomania is a single pathological preoccupation in an otherwise sound mind. Emotional monomania is that in which the patient is obsessed with only one emotion or several related to it; intellectual monomania is that which is related to only one kind of delirious idea...

, which it is difficult to describe and which he could not explain himself, a sort of excitability and want of confidence."
Despite his concerns, in the autumn of 1854, Veitch sent Lobb back to California on another three–year contract. Lobb was unable to make any further new discoveries, but sent back consignments of plants and seeds from time to time until the end of 1856. In January 1857, Veitch wrote to Hooker: "We hear Lobb has been ill, his writing appears shaky and I am inclined to think it is probable he will soon return."
In the event, Lobb did not return to England and after the expiry of his contract in 1858 he remained in California. He sent back a small number of seeds to private collectors and to the Low nursery
Clapton Nursery
The Clapton Nursery also known as Mackay's Clapton Nursery and later Low's Clapton Nursery was a plant nursery established in the early 19th century by John Bain Mackay in Upper Clapton, London, and noted for its introductions of Australian and South American plants into cultivation.The nursery...

 at Clapton
Upper Clapton
Upper Clapton is a district in the London Borough of Hackney. It is bounded by the Hackney districts of Stamford Hill to the west, Lower Clapton and Lea Bridge to the south and the Haringey district of South Tottenham to the north...

, including a new variety of White Fir (Abies concolor subsp. lowiana) (popularly known as "Low's White Fir" after them) and the rare Torrey Pine
Torrey Pine
The Torrey Pine, Pinus torreyana, is the rarest pine species in the United States, an endangered species growing only in San Diego County and on one of the Channel Islands, endemic to the coastal sage and chaparral ecoregion in the U.S...

 (Pinus torreyana). James Veitch complained to Lobb that he still had obligations to fulfill but Lobb was undeterred and caused Veitch further embarrassment by sending herbarium specimens and live plants direct to Sir William Hooker
William Jackson Hooker
Sir William Jackson Hooker, FRS was an English systematic botanist and organiser. He held the post of Regius Professor of Botany at Glasgow University, and was the first Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. He enjoyed the friendship and support of Sir Joseph Banks for his exploring,...

 at Kew Gardens.

Communications from Lobb gradually ceased, to the alarm of both his family and Veitch, who wrote to Hooker: "We thought he had given up collecting plants, for Californian gold." His last communication to his family was in 1860.

In May 1864, Lobb died forgotten and alone at St Mary's Hospital in San Francisco. The cause of death was recorded as "paralysis", but was probably as a result of syphilis. He had no mourners at his burial (on 5 May) in a public plot in Lone Mountain
Lone Mountain, San Francisco, California
Lone Mountain is a neighborhood in San Francisco, California, United States. It is the area immediately surrounding the University of San Francisco campus, to the south of Laurel Heights. It is bordered by Geary Boulevard to the north, Arguello Boulevard to the west, Masonic Avenue to the east,...

 cemetery. In 1927, his headstone was moved to South Ridge Lawn and in 1940 to a crypt at Cypress Lawn Memorial Park
Cypress Lawn Memorial Park
Cypress Lawn Memorial Park, established by Hamden Holmes Noble in 1892, is a cemetery located in Colma, California, a place known as the "City of the Silent". It is the final resting site for several members of the celebrated Hearst family plus other prominent citizens from the greater San...

 under the care of the California Academy of Sciences
California Academy of Sciences
The California Academy of Sciences is among the largest museums of natural history in the world. The academy began in 1853 as a learned society and still carries out a large amount of original research, with exhibits and education becoming significant endeavors of the museum during the twentieth...

.

A small memorial plaque can be found in Devoran
Devoran
Devoran is a village in south Cornwall, United Kingdom. It is situated four miles southwest of Truro at . Formerly an ecclesiastical parish, Devoran is now in the civil parish of Feock....

 church, Cornwall
Cornwall
Cornwall is a unitary authority and ceremonial county of England, within the United Kingdom. It is bordered to the north and west by the Celtic Sea, to the south by the English Channel, and to the east by the county of Devon, over the River Tamar. Cornwall has a population of , and covers an area of...

 where his brother Thomas Lobb
Thomas Lobb
Thomas Lobb was a British botanist and, along with his older brother, William Lobb, collected plants for the plant nursery Veitch....

 was buried in 1894.

Obituary


In Hortus Veitchii, the history of the Veitch family, Lobb's contribution to modern gardening is described thus:
"The singular success which rewarded his researches is, perhaps, unparalleled in the history of botanical discovery; the labours of David Douglas
David Douglas
David Douglas was a Scottish botanist. He worked as a gardener, and explored the Scottish Highlands, North America, and Hawaii, where he died.-Early life:...

 not even forming an exception."


In her history of the Veitch family, Seeds of Fortune – A Gardening Dynasty, Sue Shephard adds:
"William was arguably one of the finest but least–known of collectors who gave gardeners some of the most remarkable trees and loveliest plants ever grown."

Legacy


The old Garden Moss rose, "William Lobb" was named after Lobb by its French breeder, Jean Laffay (1795–1878), in 1855. It has deep purple flowers between three and four inches across with a strong scent.

Amongst the many other plants named after William Lobb are:
  • Eriogonum lobbii
    Eriogonum lobbii
    Eriogonum lobbii is a species of wild buckwheat known by the common name Lobb's buckwheat. It is native to most of the mountain ranges of northern California and their extensions into Oregon and Nevada...

    , a species of wild buckwheat
    Eriogonum
    Eriogonum is the scientific name for a genus of flowering plants, in the family Polygonaceae. The genus is found in North America and is known as wild buckwheat. This is a highly species-rich genus, and indications are that active speciation is continuing...

     known by the common name Lobb's buckwheat, native to the mountain ranges of northern California
    Northern California
    Northern California is the northern portion of the U.S. state of California. The San Francisco Bay Area , and Sacramento as well as its metropolitan area are the main population centers...

     and their extensions into Oregon
    Oregon
    Oregon is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is located on the Pacific coast, with Washington to the north, California to the south, Nevada on the southeast and Idaho to the east. The Columbia and Snake rivers delineate much of Oregon's northern and eastern...

     and Nevada
    Nevada
    Nevada is a state in the western, mountain west, and southwestern regions of the United States. With an area of and a population of about 2.7 million, it is the 7th-largest and 35th-most populous state. Over two-thirds of Nevada's people live in the Las Vegas metropolitan area, which contains its...

    .
  • Eschscholzia lobbii
    Eschscholzia lobbii
    Eschscholzia lobbii is a species of poppy known by the common name frying pans. It is endemic to California, where it grows in the Central Valley and adjacent Sierra Nevada foothills. The frying pans is a small annual herb growing from a patch of segmented leaves with pointed leaflets. It produces...

    , a species of Papaveraceae
    Papaveraceae
    Papaveraceae, informally known as the poppy family, are an economically important family of 44 genera and approximately 770 species of flowering plants in the order Ranunculales. The family is cosmopolitan, occurring in temperate and subtropical climates, but almost unknown in the tropics...

     known by the common name frying pans, endemic to California
    California
    California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

    , where it grows in the Central Valley and adjacent Sierra Nevada foothills.
  • Palicourea lobbii
    Palicourea lobbii
    Palicourea lobbii is a species of plant in the Rubiaceae family. It is endemic to Ecuador.The plant is named after William Lobb , the English plant collector.-Source:...

    , a species in the Rubiaceae
    Rubiaceae
    The Rubiaceae is a family of flowering plants, variously called the coffee family, madder family, or bedstraw family. The group contains many commonly known plants, including the economically important coffee , quinine , and gambier , and the horticulturally valuable madder , west indian jasmine ,...

     family, endemic to Ecuador
    Ecuador
    Ecuador , officially the Republic of Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border...

    .
  • Ribes lobbii
    Ribes
    Ribes is a genus of about 150 species of flowering plants native throughout the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. It is usually treated as the only genus in the family Grossulariaceae. Seven subgenera are recognized....

    , the "Gummy Gooseberry" found in Northern California.
  • Salvia lobbii
    Salvia lobbii
    Salvia lobbii is a species of flowering plant in the Lamiaceae family that is native to Ecuador. The plant is named after William Lobb , the English plant collector.-Source:...

    , a species of flowering plant
    Flowering plant
    The flowering plants , also known as Angiospermae or Magnoliophyta, are the most diverse group of land plants. Angiosperms are seed-producing plants like the gymnosperms and can be distinguished from the gymnosperms by a series of synapomorphies...

      in the Lamiaceae
    Lamiaceae
    The mints, taxonomically known as Lamiaceae or Labiatae, are a family of flowering plants. They have traditionally been considered closely related to Verbenaceae, but in the 1990s, phylogenetic studies suggested that many genera classified in Verbenaceae belong instead in Lamiaceae...

     family, endemic to Ecuador
    Ecuador
    Ecuador , officially the Republic of Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border...

    .

External links