Stephen Harris is Druce Curator of the Oxford University Herbaria, a University Research Lecturer and a Governing Body Fellow of Green Templeton College.
'...la piu magnifica flora del mondo' [the most magnificent flora in the world] Michele Tenore (1780-1861), Professor of Botany, University of Naples The Flora Graeca is one of the most extraordinary botanical publications of all time. The spectacular quality of the botanical illustrations, the size of the publication (10 double folio volumes), its cost on publication (over GBP620 in 1830) and the lengths to which people went to see it all added to the Flora's reputation. Indeed, there were so few copies of the first printing - just twenty five - that some people were skeptical that the book existed! This book summarizes the story of the Flora Graca enterprise, profiling the leading characters, John Sibthorp and his celebrated illustrator Ferdinand Bauer, and charting their eastern Mediterranean adventures; the scientific and artistic aspects of the publication and its printing history. It also looks at the horticultural legacy of Sibthorp's voyages and the plants he brought back to England, such as Crocus flavus ssp. flavus collected in Turkey, now popular in its own right as one of the parents of a popular garden hybrid, 'Golden Yellow', and Cyclamen persicum collected in Cyprus, now one of the most widely grown autumn-flowering species and the parent of many of the garden cyclamens.Heavily illustrated, the book brings together images of Sibthorp's specimens (looking remarkably fresh after 180 years) and illustrations from the original watercolours and the engravings preserved in Oxford. It makes available in print more images from the Flora Graeca than have ever previously been published.