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Introduction to the Articles on Plants

Robin Wild

We are fortunate to have Robin Wild as our contributor on the flora of Zimbawe. Robin is the son of Hiram Wild – the botanist who was head of the government Herbarium of Southern Rhodesia and who initiated, with W.A. Excell, Flora Zambesiaca, a series of monographs on the flora of Africa. His wildii name has been given to Aloe wildii, Euphorbia wildii and other plants. Below is a vegetation map of this country drawn up in 1961 by Hiram Wild and a colleague. (A coloured – and therefore easier to read – version will illustrate the coming article entitled At Home in Zimbabwe”)

Rattray & Wild, map of vegetation of Zimbabwe, 1961
Map of Vegetation of Zimbabwe, drawn up by Rattray & Wild, 1961

Robin was able as a child to go with his father and others on many collecting trips around the country and region. In the years since he has continued to get into the country, sometimes with botanists and other naturalists, and has maintained contacts and conversations with many people doing wonderful work to develop our knowledge of the natural world.

Robin has a Harare garden full of indigenous trees and other plant and animal life. He encourages us to learn from the ‘web of life’, just as our ancestors did.  Botany, the study of plants, began with our earliest efforts to identify edible, medicinal and poisonous plants, making botany one of the oldest sciences. People in ancient times learned by careful and lifelong observation, learned direct from the plants, from the ways in which life and land go together in sharing communities. People learned from the trees, from animals, and from people. And we have now added to these traditional ways of learning –  the new World Wide Web.

Paddy Pacey

Zimbabwean field guide and trainer of aspiring guides

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