Ernest Henry Wilson

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Ernest Henry Wilson

Birthplace: Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, England UK
Death: October 15, 1930 (54)
Immediate Family:

Son of Henry Wilson and Annie Wilson
Husband of Helen Wilson
Father of Murial Primrose Slate
Brother of Flora Wilson; May Wilson; Frank Wilson; Thomas Wilson and Richard Wilson

Occupation: Railway Signal man
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Ernest Henry Wilson

Ernest Henry Wilson

Birth date: 15 Feb 1876

Birth Place: Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, England

Date of Death: 15 Oct 1930

Place of Death:


Father: Henry Wilson a Railway signal man. In 1901 Henry and Annie were Florists in Yardley, Worcestershire. Two of the daughters were probably working with them as they were also described as florists in the 1901 census and the 13 year old son Tom was an errand boy..

Mother: Annie Curtis

Marriage: Elen (Nellie) Ganderton

Date: June 1902

Children: one daughter Muriel Primrose born 21 May 1906

Occupation: English gardener, botanist and plant hunter

Honours and Awards:


Wilson left school early to work at the local nursery of Messrs. Hewitt, Warwickshire, as apprentice gardener,. When he was 16 he worked at at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens; he also studied at Birmingham Technical School in the evenings, receiving the Queen's Prize for botany.

In 1897 he started working at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, where he won the Hooker Prize for an essay on conifers. He took up a position as Chinese plant collector with the firm of James Veitch & Sons, who were wanting to acquire the dove tree, Davidia involucrata.

"Stick to the one thing you are after," advised Harry Veitch, who had more than a dozen plant hunters on payroll, "and don't spend time and money wandering about. Probably every worthwhile plant in China has now been introduced to Europe." Quoted by Tozer 1994:50.[1]

6 months later Wilson travelled towards China, stopping for 5 days at the Arnold Arboretum in Boston, Massachusetts. He had a letter of introduction to Charles Sprague Sargent and studied techniques for shipping seeds and plants without damage. He continued across America by train, and sailed from San Francisco, reaching Hong Kong on 3 June 1899.

He returned to England in April 1902 with the seed of 305 species, and 35 Wardian cases of bulbs, corms, rhizomes, and tubers, as well as dried herbarium specimens, representing some 906 plant species.[Tozer at 1]

He was also a for Sargent at the Arnold Arboretum


1898-1902 China via Massachusetts in search of the Dove tree

1902 - China in search of the Yellow Chinese Poppy, Meconopsis integrifolia

1907,1908 and 1910 - China - Min River

1911-1916 Japan

For a detailed list of his travels please refer to the document attached to this profile page.


Selected [1]

For a detailed list of his publications please refer to the document attached to this profile page.

1917 Plantae Wilsonianae; an enumeration of the woody plants collected in western China for the Arnold arboretum of Harvard university during the years 1907, 1908, and 1910, by E. H. Wilson, ed. by Charles Sprague Sargent

1912 Vegetation in western China : a series of 500 photographs with index

1913 Naturalist in western China, with vasculum, camera, and gun; being some account of eleven years' travel, exploration, and observation in the more remote parts of the Flowery Kingdom

1916 Conifers and taxads of Japan 1916 History and botanical relationships of the modern rose, compiled by Ernest H. Wilson and Fred A. Wilson

1917 Aristocrats of the garden

1920 Romance of our trees

1921 Monograph of azaleas : Rhododendron subgenus Anthodendron, by Ernest Henry Wilson and Alfred Rehder

1925 America's greatest garden; the Arnold Arboretum

1925 Lilies of eastern Asia; a monograph

1927 Plant hunting

1928 More aristocrats of the garden

1929 China, mother of gardens

1930 Aristocrats of the trees

1931 If I Were to Make a Garden

Awards and Memorials:

Victoria Medal of Honour of the Royal Horticultural Society of London in 1912,

the Veitch Memorial Medal,

the George Robert White Memorial Medal of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society.

He was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences,

received an honorary M.A. degree from Harvard University and the D. Sc. degree from Trinity College (Connecticut).

Over 100 plants introduced by Wilson have received the First-Class Certificate or Awards of Merit of the Royal Horticultural Society of London.

Sixty species and varieties of Chinese plants bear his name - wilsonii

In 1916-1917 Charles Sprague Sargent edited a partial list of his introductions as ''Plantae Wilsonianae.''

There is an Ernest Wilson Memorial Garden in the village of Chipping Campden.

The life and work of Ernest Henry Wilson was commemorated at Birmingham Botanical Gardens & Glasshouses with a blue plaque,

Other Notes:

Ernest, Annie and Murial Primrose were in Massachusetts surrey at the time of the 1920 US Census



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Ernest Henry Wilson's Timeline

February 15, 1876
Gloucestershire, England UK
October 15, 1930
Age 54