Thursday, 26 February 2009

Introduction of Livistona australis

The number of Palms to be found in our conservatories has only of late years become considerable. Formerly it was very limited, chiefly owing to the great difficulty experienced in transmitting the seed to Europe without its losing the germinating power. This difficulty was however at last overcome. When Allan Cunningham, the King's botanist, was in New Holland, he sent a case with living plants to the Royal Gardens at Kew, which on being disturbed was found to have, instead of the crocks usually placed at the bottom of such cases for drainage, seeds of a Palm, nearly all in process of germination. Cunningham's attendants, too indolent to look for the crocks, had substituted the seeds of the Livistonia Australia, which happened to be more handy. These young plants were carefully nursed, and one of them has now become one of the gems of the collection of Palms at Kew; another adorns the chief conservatory at the Royal Gardens at Hanover; and again another the Crystal Palace at Sydenham. The discovery that the seeds of Palms could be introduced most effectually by being in their native country at once placed in mould was not overlooked by Mr. John Smith, the intelligent Curator of Kew Gardens. He made it widely known, and to its diffusion more than to any other circumstance must be mainly ascribed the great increase of the collections of Palms in our horticultural establishments. I availed myself of it during my voyage round the world, and was thus enabled to introduce several rare species into our gardens.

Berthold Seemann
Popular History of the Palms and Their Allies: Containing a Familiar Account of Their Structure, Geographical and Geological Distribution, History, Properties, and Uses...
1856, p. 235-6

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