Mr Fortune of the Chinese language Warty Newt, Backyard Crops and Tea

Robert Fortune

In my final article I defined how John Edward Grey FRS (1800-1875) of the British Museum (Pure Historical past) in London obtained the 2 specimens he described in 1859 as a then new species, Cynops (now Paramesotriton) chinensis, the Chinese language Warty Newt. They have been in a bottle, together with a leech and two fancy goldfish, obtained from a Mr Fortune who collected them ‘inland from Ningpo’ (Ningbo).

The collector was not a reputation normally related to zoological adventures, for the Mr Fortune was Robert Fortune (1812-1880), the well-known plant hunter and horticulturalist who was an exponent of commercial espionage earlier than the exercise had a reputation. He travelled extensively in China, typically incognito, searching for crops and data on methods to convert the leaves of the tea plant into the tea bought as a drink. Books and a movie have described how he labored for the East India Firm and of how the information he gained was put to make use of in tea manufacturing in Assam and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and thereby be sure that British India provided the insatiable British marketplace for tea. The article on Wikipedia states that he labored in China from 1843 to 1861. His first expedition was for the Horticultural Society in London.

I need to now put the kettle on.

The Blue Plaque for Robert Fortune
9 Gliston Highway, Kensingron, London
(Simon Harriyott {photograph})

Chinese language Warty Newt
Displaying the rationale for its widespread identify
{Photograph} by Firedreams on Wikipedia

Distribution of Paramesotriton chinensis
from the IUCN Purple Record
Categorized as ‘Least Concern’

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