Digital Repository@HKUL

Flora Sinensis

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Flora Sinensis contains 212 images of paintings of flowers and plants of China. The paintings were commissioned by Dr. Bernard Emms Read (1887-1949), who worked as a scientist in China where he taught at Peking Medical College from 1909 to 1932 and later was Head of Physiological Sciences and Director of the Henry Lester Institute of Medical Research in Shanghai. Dr. Read hoped to publish a complete visual record of plants of China, so he invited Chinese artists to paint from fresh living specimens. The artists were asked to paint exactly what they saw in the flowers and the plants with artistic and scientific precision. Many of the unusual flowers that appear in the paintings were collected by Dr. and Mrs. Read during special trips they made to locate and collect plants in outer Mongolia, Shensi, the Nankow Pass of the Great Wall, and other places. The classification and listing of the Latin and Chinese names were done by Miss B.T. Chiu, a lecturer at the University of Hong Kong’s Department of Botany, in the 1950s. Flora Sinensis, while not complete, may serve as a reference record of the flora of China in the 1920s and the 1930s.

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