Biodiv Sci ›› 2021, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (7): 960-970.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2021029

• Bioinventories • Previous Articles     Next Articles

On the history of the bamboo specimen collection in China by American plant collectors (1840-2010)

Renwu Wu, Xinge Nan, Hai Yan, Fan Yang, Yan Shi, Zhiyi Bao*()   

  1. College of Landscape Architecture, Zhejiang A&F University, Hangzhou 311300
  • Received:2021-01-19 Accepted:2021-03-12 Online:2021-07-20 Published:2021-04-22
  • Contact: * Zhiyi Bao E-mail:


Aim: Plant specimen collections are important for botany research and closely related with plant introductions. Studies show that American plant collectors had collected plants extensively worldwide, especially in China since the 19th century. Because of the ornamental value, cultural connotation, economic significance and ecological benefits, bamboo has become important for American plant collectors in China. Thus, it is essential to study the history of bamboo specimen collection in China by American plant collectors to understand the history of bamboo introduction in the United States from China.
Methods: In this study, we collected raw data with bamboo names, collector names, collection locations and dates from herbarium specimens. We corrected the scientific names of bamboo collected in China, reinvestigated the collection locations, collectors, and collection dates with the goal of investigating the history of bamboo specimens collected in China by American plant collectors.
Results: From 1840 to 2010, a total of 2,238 sheets and 960 numbers of bamboo specimens were collected in China, belonging to 25 genera (accounting for 73.5% of the genera in China) and 120 species (22.5% of the species in China, including several varieties and forms). These specimens were collected by 45 collectors and collection teams and were predominantly from 20 provincial administrative regions. Among the collectors, McClure was the most important one for bamboo specimen collection. This research spanned approximately 170 years, with the majority of research taking place in the first half of the 20th century.
Conclusions: This study objectively reviewed the history of bamboo specimens collected by American plant collectors in China and analyzed the relevant genera, species, collectors, collection locations, collection times, historical background, and contributions from expeditions and collections. The collection history of bamboo specimens show that American plant collectors have made remarkable achievements in bamboo collection from China. The investigation and collection of Chinese bamboo by American plant collectors promoted several applications for bamboo in the United States. First, bamboo was found to be an excellent ornamental and economic plant species. Second, there was an increased promotion for the development of bamboo taxonomy research. Third, there was a facilitation for the introduction and spread of Chinese bamboos to the United States. We suggest that the following work needs to be done for future studies: (1) research on the history of other plant expeditions, collections, and introductions from other Western countries’ collectors, such as British, French, and German collectors; (2) research on plant collections and introductions from foreign countries into China.

Key words: China, American plant collectors, bamboo, specimen, collection history, plant resource