Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Fortune was born in Kelloe, Berwickshire. He was employed in the botanical garden in Edinburgh, and later in the Royal Horticultural Society's garden at Chiswick, and following the Treaty of Nanking in 1842 was sent out by the Society to collect plants in China.
His travels resulted in the introduction to Europe of many beautiful flowers; but another three-year-long journey, undertaken in 1848 on behalf of the British East India Company, had much more important consequences, resulting in the successful introduction of 20,000 tea plants to Darjeeling of India. His personal endeavor created the tea industries of India and Ceylon and ended China's natural monopoly of tea. He was the first European to discover that varieties of teas such as black tea and green tea were produced from the same plant.
In subsequent journeys he visited Formosa and Japan, and described the culture of the silkworm and the manufacture of rice. He introduced many trees, shrubs and flowers to the West, including the cumquat, the double yellow rose and many varieties of tree peonies, azaleas and chrysanthemums. The incidents of his travels were related in a succession of interesting books. He died in London.
- Three Years' Wanderings in the Northern Provinces of China (1847)
- A Journey to the Tea Countries of China (1852)
- A Residence Among the Chinese (1857)
- Yedo and Peking (1863)
- Robert Fortune (1812-1880)] (PlantExplorers.com)
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