Sir Henry Alexander Wickham, British botanist and plantation owner, c 1900.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Photograph of Sir Henry Wickham (1846-1928) standing by the largest original plantation rubber tree grown from seed. In 1876, Sir John Hooker of the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, London, commisioned Wickham, a botanist, to collect rubber tree seeds from Peru, South America and ship them back to Britain. Of the millions Wickham sent, nearly 2000 were succesfully grown into sapling trees. These saplings were then shipped to Sri Lanka, Singapore and Malaysia to be grown on British plantations, helping to make Britain a major power in the rubber trade. Virtually all of the rubber trees in the Far East today are derived from seeds collected by Sir Henry Wickham.