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Hooker was one of the great Botanists/Field naturalists who studied plants in Sri Lanka (Ceylon) and South Asia in the 19th century. Note that this is some years prior to the publication of Darwin’s work, and so this was from the great age of Victorian field naturalists. My interest in this material was mainly in regard to the report by George Gardner, the Director of the Botanic garden of Peradeniya.
However the book gives a glimpse of the activities of Baron Humboldt, and other people of the period, and how the Colonial secretary and others were involved in all this; many parts of the book are indeed very interesting reading, and cover even Tibet, Sikkim etc., as well as south America.
Gardner's report gives a nice detailed picture of how the coffee plantations of Ceylon succumbed to the "coccus" infection. It also gives some insights to the botany, geography as well as the plantation culture that prevailed in Ceylon prior to the replacement of Coffee by Tea. We learn that The Rothschilds owned at least 400 acres of Coffee in Ceylon of the 19th century.
We have used some of this material in our ethno-botanical website on botanical and local names (Sinhala, Tamil, Sanskrit) of Sri Lankan plants, as well as place-names. Gardner's accounts of the "Niloo plant" that flowers only every 5 -7 years, and how it attracts rats, etc., are fascinating.