“It has been attempted in the following pages to supply the want of a work of reference, in which botanists dealing with Chinese plants preserved in European herbariums might find some particulars regarding the history of these collections, of which the labels affixed to the herbarium specimens generally give only an imperfect account.”
Emil Bretschneider (1833–1901) became famous among researchers for his valuable contributions to the field of sinology. His versatile approach – he was a physician and botanist as well as a sinologist – and his familiarity with Chinese literature distinguished him from his colleagues, many of whom were unable to read sources firsthand. Combining his abilities in botany and sinology, Bretschneider comprises an extensive history of Chinese plants and how they found their way to Europe. From the earliest accounts by Marco Polo, to the groundbreaking work of Carl Linnaeus, to the period of the Opium wars between England and China, this volume covers the works of European botanists up until 1860. Bretschneider does not limit his scope to China proper, but includes Mongolia, Tibet, Korea, and other regions, making this a uniquely comprehensive guide to European research on Asian plants.