Biodiv Sci ›› 2022, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (11): 22063.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2022063

• Bioinventory • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Review of the legacy of Frank Nicholas Meyer by teasing apart his itineraries and introduced plants in Asia and Europe

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

  1. College of Landscape Architecture, Zhejiang A&F University, Hangzhou 311300
  • Received:2022-02-08 Accepted:2022-05-09 Online:2022-11-20 Published:2022-06-23
  • Contact: Zhiyi Bao


Aim: Historically, the United States has employed “plant hunters” to search for plants around the world for further investigation. Frank Nicholas Meyer is one of the most impactful plant hunters; he embarked on four expeditions between 1905 and 1918, introducing plants from Asia (mainly in China) and Europe. Understanding Meyer’s legacy is important to understanding how a variety of plants have been propagated and become more diverse across the globe. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to document the routes Meyer traveled and species of plants he discovered.

Methods: We conducted an extensive review of the historical archives of Meyer’s expeditions to Asia and Europe. Specifically, we focused on Meyer’s plant introduction records, scientific names of plants specimens, collection locations, and routes travelled in Asia and Europe.

Results: Meyer’s four expeditions took him to a total of 13 countries and regions (mainly in China), where he visited 65 cities in 18 provinces in China. In total, Meyer introduced 3,651 plants. Among these plants, Meyer documented 3,590 belonging to 109 families, 3,567 belonging to 392 genera, and 2,644 belonging to 665 species.

Conclusions: Meyer’s work introduced an abundance of fruits, vegetables, food crops, and ornamental plants. Meyer has had a far-reaching impact on plants throughout the world, promoting the spread of plants globally and diversifying flora in the United States. The archived documentation of his expeditions can provide basic information for future research. Meyer’s work can also serve as a blueprint to guide the conservation of plant diversity in China.

Key words: plant introduction, introduction routes, history, plant spread, plant diversity, China