In 1890, Albert Spear Hitchcock boarded a ship and launched an era of exploration. Traveling to the Caribbean, he became the first Garden staff member directly involved in collecting botanical specimens in the tropics. More than a century later, Hitchcock's adventurous spirit and hunger for knowledge live on through the Garden's global research program.
Botanists spend much of their time in the field, living and working in remote locations. Every year, Garden researchers collect about 150,000 plant specimens and describe about 200 new species.
Discoveries in botany are almost never dramatic. Instead, they result from careful observation and research. Often, the collector doesn't really know what he or she has until it is studied in a lab and matched against existing botanical references.