- the adventure is growing™
Skip to page contentHome  |  Explorers  |  Articles  |  Resources  |  About Us  |  Login  |  Site Map 

Home  >  The Explorers  >  Joseph Banks

Joseph Banks 1743-1820

Sir Joseph Banks - 'The Experiment'

One of Joseph Banks' grand botanical experiments turned into one of the most memorable episodes in maritime history. The historical record begins in 1787 with a letter by Banks to his friend Charles Jenkins, extolling the virtues of Breadfruit as a cheap and nutritious food source. Banks, with his considerable influence as the president of the Royal Society was soon able to rally sufficient funding for the successful completion of his experiment. To move en mass a food crop from one part of the globe to another far distant location.

Breadfruit,  Artocarpus altilisAs his personal consultant on the matter, Banks selected one of his gardeners from Kew, David Nelson, who had already proven his seaworthiness as botanist on Cook's third voyage.

A ship, the Bethia, was secured for £1950, and sent to the shipyard at Deptford for modifications according to Banks' and Nelson's specifications. The bottom of the hull was sheathed in copper, to prevent damage by tropical marine worms, while her decks were altered and her hold expanded for the hundreds of potted trees she was to carry. The final change was her name. The ship was re-christened as the 'Bounty'.

On August 20th, 1787, Sir Joseph Banks, representing the Lords of the British Admiralty, appointed the first six crew members to sail on the H.M.S. Bounty, due to set sail three months later. It is likely that Banks took the advice of David Nelson in selecting Lieutenant William Bligh to command the mission, as Nelson and Bligh were former mates from Cook's last voyage. The other members of this select team included the Commander (Bligh), Sailing Master, Surgeon, Botanist (Nelson), First Midshipman, and one 'enlisted man', gardener William Brown.

The mutiny is not so important to Banks' story as is the successful completion of the second breadfruit voyage in 1791 with the HMS Providence and the HMS Assistant, commanded by the newly promoted Captain Bligh. The breadfruit trees established and grew quickly in their new Caribbean home, although acceptance of this new food source was very slow to develop.

Garcinia mangostana - The Mangosteen

Another fruit that was introduced to the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew through the sponsorship of Joseph Banks was the Mangosteen. Read more on this fruit that is only now reaching greater distribution.


Selected by the SciLinks program, a service of
the National Science Teachers Association.
Home  |  Explorers  |  Articles  |  Resources  |  About Us  |  Login  |  Site Map
Copyright © 1999 -™ and Lindenleaf Enterprises Inc