Economic biology and James Anderson in eighteenth century Coromandel

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James Anderson will be remembered for the two structured botanical gardens in 18th century Madras: the Nopalry and the Anderson Gardens vouch for his spirited efforts to know plants and their usefulness to humans. An underpinning urge to improve Britain's economy by exporting knowledge and material resources of India to Britain permeates his efforts. Calcutta Botanical Garden was established by Robert Kyd in 1787. My searches on James Anderson revealed that the Nungambakkam Anderson Garden was established in 1778'1792. On a road trip from Tranquebar to Madras and back, the Tranquebar Missionary Johann Peter Rottler collected plants, which havebeen documented by Carl Ludwig Willdenow. In this document, in the section 'In Madras and its neighbourhood (between 8 October and 28 December 1799)', several plants from horto Andersoniano (Anderson Garden) are listed that go to show that the Anderson Garden was fully functional in 1799. Does this mean that the Anderson Garden precedes Calcutta Botanical Garden as the earliest formal botanical garden in India? James Anderson's efforts made in the 18th century need to be viewed in the present-daycontext of importing plants and animals into 'new' territories. We now know that such introductions into new territories need to be done with caution, because many of them have the potential to turn into invasive organisms over time.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1092-1095
Number of pages4
JournalCurrent Science
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011


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