Plant Hunting & the Kew Connection


In the left photograph above, we have a general view of two members of our expedition, with alpine plant hunting evidently in progress: we believe in this image the photographer (Maud Thompson's husband)  has recorded Maud Thompson and Villim Loschnigg (who is far left, bending down), together with a packhorse, a guide or porter, and a dog. In the second image, to the right above, we see another party in closer view, but at a different location.
In the right hand frame, we believe Villim Loschnigg is the central figure, head and shoulders only, just to the right of the horse. Notice the porter carrying plant specimen storage holders, possibly supplied by Kew Gardens. It is interesting to note that in nearly all images recorded in remote areas, a security figure, or gendarme, is present, often carrying a rifle. These interwar years were troubled time in the Balkans and this may have been a security requirement on those travellers venturing into remoter districts. The fear of Albanian Banditry is occasionally mentioned in their plant hunting reports.
Archive Image File Refs: 01-02 & 03-59.


Kew Gardens kindly allowed us access to their files from the 1930's. There, to our suprise and delight, were the  plant lists submitted by our explorers to the Kew Collections from 1932, 1934 & 1937. Above very top left we can see the blind stamped Kew mark and read below
"List of determinations of specimens collected by The Rev and Mrs. H P Thompson in Montenegro"
and dated (top right) "H1614/34".

Above right on a different occasion, we have the final page of a lengthy typescript identifying 250 submissions, and signed off:
"The Herbarium.
Royal Botanic Gardens.
Kew. Surrey.
15th September 1932".
The September month date is particularly interesting. There is a 1930's reference in the Journal of the Alpine Plant Society, that annual Alpine Plant Searching Groups were organised around summer vacations. Assuming these were in July & August, then the submissions of specimens to Kew in September on their immediate return, would be entirely consistent.


In the two records above, also from the Kew Archives, we see the final page of a 530 specimen submission, from their 1935 expedition. To the left, the hand written list as compiled by the Thompsons, to the right the same page as typed up for a Kew reference file listing.

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