Digital Rare Book:
Icones Plantarum Indiae Orientalis or FIGURES OF INDIAN PLANTS
By Robert Wight
Published by J.B.Pharoah, Madras - 1840
In Six Volumes. Richly Illustrated.
Robert Wight went to India in 1819 as the first assistant surgeon and later full surgeon of the 33rd Regiment of Native Infantry in the East India Company's service. His interest in botany was clear and within three years he was transferred to Madras and made in charge of the Botanic Gardens and later appointed as naturalist to the East India Company. He made extensive collections from southern India from 1826 to 1828, and sent them to Sir William Hooker at Glasgow. This collection consisted of specimens from around Madras up to Vellore and from Samalkota and Rajahmundry, now in Andhra Pradesh. Earlier, a collection that he had shipped to Robert Graham was lost at sea. He also improved his collection through his association with local collectors. In 1828 the government discontinued his position at the Botanic Gardens and reassigned him to regimental duties as garrison surgeon at Nagapattinam. He continued his study of flora in and around Tanjore for two years. He was promoted to the full rank of a surgeon in 1831.
He took a three year sick leave in 1831 and took to Scotland, 100,000 specimens from India consisting of 3000-4000 species. The luggage weighed 2 tons. These specimens were studied and used by Dr. George Arnott Walker-Arnott, Professor of Botany at the University of Glasgow. Wight also published the Spicilegium Neilgherrense in two volumes with 200 coloured plates. Between 1840 and 1850, he issued another two volume work named Illustrations of Indian Botany, the object of which was to give figures and fuller descriptions of some of the chief species described in a systematic book of the highest botanical merit, which he prepared along with Dr. Walker-Arnott, and which was published under the title Prodromus Florae Peninsulae Indicae. He distributed a lithographic catalogue consisting of 2403 species from his collections among several leading botanical authorities in Europe, most of them enumerated in his work, Prodromus.
Wight was interested in making a large illustrated work on Indian plants based on Sowerby's English botany. Wight's illustrations were chiefly by native artists RUNGIAH and GOVINDOO for his "ICONES PLANTARUM INDIAE ORIENTALIS" in six volumes. Unlike other British workers of the time, he gave credit to his native artists and even named a genus of Orchid, Govindooia (now Tropidia), after Govindoo. This was the first attempt at a flora for India in which the natural system of classification was followed. This work was however not completed.
He founded the Madras Agri-Horticultural Society and contributed a lot of articles to the Madras Journal of Literature and Science in the form of short letters and full articles on botany and related subjects between 1835-1840. He published several articles on cotton which were consolidated in an article in the Garderns Chronicle in 1861. He helped in the editing of Pharmacopoiea of India by Edward John Waring where he added observations on medicinal properties of herbs and some botanical information. In 1836, he took up the responsibility of the Peradeniya collections at the botanical gardens in Sri Lanka following his contact with GW Walker.
Read Book Online:
Download pdf Book:
Drosera burmanni by the artist Rungiah from "Spicilegium Neilgherrense"