The beautiful tropical botanical illustrations shared here are from the book “Collectanea botanica, or, Figures and botanical illustrations of rare and curious exotic plants” by John Lindley. The book was first published in 1821.
John Lindley (1799-1865) was an English botanist and gardener, born in Norfolk. Helping out in his father’s commercial nursery as a child, sparked John’s interest in botany.
He was largely a self-taught botanist. As a young man, he left Norfolk for London to work as an assistant to the famous naturist Sir Joseph Banks.
Lindley’s first book was on fruit, followed by a book on Roses, where he described many new species. But his favourite flowers were orchids. At the time, he knew more about orchids than anyone else. He described and named nearly 150 new species of the flower in his lifetime.
In his book of tropical plant illustrations (Collectanea Botanical), many of the plants came from the Orchid family. He painted the botanical illustrations in the book himself.
Lindley was pivotal in saving Kew Gardens, opening it to the public and turning it into the botanical headquarters for the UK. His famous collection of orchids was housed in the Kew herbarium.
Lindley was well respected by his fellow botanists, reflected by his name being honoured in the naming of more than 200 plant species.
The Tropical Botanical Illustrations
To download the tropical plant print you want click on the title above the illustrations. A higher resolution image will open in a new window on your browser. If you click on that image you will have the option to save it to your device for printing.
All the vintage botanical illustrations featured here are in the Public Domain, so you are free to print and use them how you wish.
More commonly known as Bromelia Pinguin these days. Found in Central America, the Caribbean and Northern South America. The plant’s prickly leaves are used as a protective fence in Jamaica. A thread can be made from the fibres.
An orchid flower native to the American tropics.
Pterospora andromedea, pinedrops are widespread across the Americas.
This tropical botanical illustration is now known as Hippeastrum, or “knight’s-star-lily”.
The flower is also commonly known as “Pink ball“.
This flower is more commonly known as the downy rattlesnake plantain. It is a very common orchid in North America.
Another tropical botanical illustration of an orchid.
A tropical botanical illustration of a plant more commonly known as Chinese Bur.
A variety of hawthorn plant.
This flower is a species of orchid found from Ethiopia to South Africa and Saudi Arabia. The plants usually grow in grasslands in sandy soils or in clay.
There is a collection of prints from the waterlily house at Kew Gardens in this collection of giant water lily (Victoria Amazonica) prints.
I hope you enjoyed these tropical botanical illustrations by John Lindley. Don’t forget to check out the many other vintage botanicals on the site, including the flower illustrations of individual species. There are also some wonderful tropical house plant drawings.
Also the vintage nature sketch books of the Dutch East Indies by Jan Brandes.