New book on Chilean plants

An exclusive limited edition book of award-winning botanical illustrations, epitomising the union of art and science, is unveiled this October when the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) publishes Plants from the Woods and Forests of Chile. Featuring 81 newlycommissioned watercolour paintings in a single volume, the book is a work of great beauty which carries a strong conservation message about some of the most threatened forested habitats in the world.

With a foreword by HRH The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay, Royal Patron of RBGE, the book depicts the stunning and rich plant diversity of Chile’s unique forest areas where, for the last 25 years, the organisation has engaged in research and conservation programmes. It is the first book published in English to be dedicated solely to Chilean plants.

It represents the skills and observations of three talented award-winning artists - Gülnur Ekşi, Hülya Korkmaz and Işık Güner – who have painstakingly and accurately recorded the minutest details of plants from this fascinating country.

The illustrations have been prepared from native habitats in Chile and also from plants in cultivation. Many of the plants featured are the focus of collaborative conservation programmes between RBGE’s International Conifer Conservation Programme (ICCP) and key Chilean research institutions. A number of trees, shrubs, climbers, herbaceous and bulbous plants featured have never before been painted. For the team of three artists from Turkey – all winners of prestigious Royal Horticultural Society medals for their work on the project – it has been an inspirational eight-year journey from conception to completion of the book.

Accompanying the illustrations are words by three authors from the UK and Chile who have drawn on decades of experience working with Chilean plants to construct a succinct, nontechnical, text providing details relating to distribution, habitat, conservation, cultivation and ethnobotanical uses of these species.

Martin Gardner, ICCP Co-ordinator and author, explained: “With over 700 Chilean species now cultivated in Britain and Ireland – the first of which having been introduced some 200 years ago – there will be both a sense of familiarity and discovery within these pages. Our hope is that readers will enjoy the beauty of the book and, perhaps, be inspired to find out more.”

Paying tribute to the work behind the book, RBGE Regius Keeper Simon Milne MBE concluded: “The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is very excited to be publishing this exceptional book created by exceptional people. Through the brushes of the artists and the pen of the authors the beauty of Chile’s wonderful diversity of plants is revealed and the critical need to protect the world’s natural capital is highlighted. Twenty species featured in the book are at risk of extinction, and we hope that not only will people treasure and enjoy this amazing book but will also be moved to do their bit to support ‘Edinburgh Botanics’ with its international research and conservation programmes.” 

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The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a charity (registration number SC007983)