Charles Parish - Plant Hunter and Botanical Artist in Burma by Dudley Clayton

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Volume 179. Charles Parish– Plant Hunter and Botanical Artist in Burma. Dudley Clayton


Charles Samuel Pollock Parish (1822-1897) served as a chaplain with the armies of  the Honourable East India Company and, after 1858, seamlessly adapted to the change of authority and served, in the same capacity, the Crown in British Imperial India, which included Burma (now Myanmar). He was based at Moulmein in Burma from 1852 until 1878. For the first time a detailed account of his life and time in Burma is provided, together with some of his original sketches of Moulmein and the surrounding countryside. During that period he collected plants for the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew and for the orchid nursery of Messrs Hugh Low & Co. of Upper Clapton in England. He discovered many new species during his travels in Tenasserim and undertook an important expedition into the interior of the little-known region. Parish and his wife, Eleanor, were talented artists and painted most of their discoveries, often from plants they had flowered in their garden at Moulmein.


The scientific importance of their work is considerable because they illustrated many novelties and, in effect, their paintings and drawings are of the type collections of dozens of orchid species. The original illustrations of the orchids of Burmese Tenasserim, arranged in two bound volumes, have been kept in the archives of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, since Parish’s death and have never been available outside of that institution.

For the first time, they are available to a wider audience, together with an up-to-date taxonomic treatment of them. A little-known account of Parish’s most significant expedition is also provided, together with his itinerary and a map.