Intrepid Explorers

With a sudden explosion in tree planting in the 18th century, the race was on to identify new species which would thrive in Scottish conditions. During the 19th century, Scots gardeners and naturalists searched the world for new plants - trees were introduced from as far afield as Australia and New Zealand, China, Japan and the Himalayas; as well as from the Andes and North America, notably the Pacific North West.

Scotland has produced some of the world’s most adventurous and significant plant hunters - men such as Archibald Menzies, David Douglas, Thomas Drummond and John Jeffrey.  

Archibald Menzies, perhaps best known for bringing the dazzling 'monkey puzzle' tree to these shores (after slipping some seeds presented to him as a dessert into his waistcoat!), paved the way for others.  

David Douglas, now immortalised by the fir named after him (its scientific name Pseudotsuga menziesii pays tribute to Menzies’ role in its discovery), was a young gardener at Scone Palace, sent out to explore the plants of the world. After many adventures, he brought back over 240 new species before his untimely and gory death, aged just 35, in a bull pit in Hawaii.  

One of the original Douglas firs can still be seen at Scone, raised from seed he sent home in 1826. He also introduced the Sitka spruce, which has become the mainstay of the Scottish and British forestry sector, thanks to its ability to grow in poorer conditions and produce quality timber, accounting for around two-thirds of all British timber production today .