It is the end of an era at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and only right to celebrate Henry Noltie’s retiral (as we’re in Scotland) with some of his contributions to exploring and explaining the world of plants.

Henry has:

  • authored/co-authrored 72 taxa
  • published 65 papers and articles
  • written 18 books
  • contributed 21 chapters to various publications
  • written 23 book reviews
  • has spoken at 32 conferences/workshops and seminars
  • and curated or contributed to 25 exhibitions at Inverleith House.

Expeditions/Collecting Trips

During his time Henry has, in part, contributed at least 3232 specimens to the herbarium and 1029 accessions to the living collections at the Botanics from the following expeditions:

  • Kew–Edinburgh–Kathmandu Expedition to NE Nepal (KEKE), August–October, 1989 (collecting monocots)

Henry, Shidua – Basantpur August 1989

  • Collecting trip to Bhutan, July 1991
  • Edinburgh Expedition to Sikkim and Darjeeling (ESIK), July–August, 1992

Henry, Noltie, David Long and Ron McBeath, Goecha La (16,000ft) Sikkim 1992.

  • Kew Edinburgh Gothenburg Expedition to NW Yunnan (KEG), 1993

Henry digging an Amorphophallus in Yunnan 1993.

  • Participant in Darwin Initiative/Scientific Exploration Society Namdapha Rainforest Project, January 1994
  • Forestry Commission, Edinburgh Expedition to Deqin Prefecture, NW Yunnan (FED), September, 1995

    Henry fording a stream FED 1995.

  • Edinburgh Expedition to Northern Sikkim (EENS), July, 1996
  • Expedition to Cox’s Bazar and Chittagong.  University of Chittagong, October 1997
  • Bhutan, August–September, 1998 (collecting grasses)
  • Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft’s Tibetan Plateau: Formation Climate Ecosystems project’s ‘Joint Final Excursion – Kobresia pygmaea ecosystem’ to Qinghai and Tibet, August, 2015

Botanical commemoration

Gagea noltiei J.-M. Peruzzi et al., Taxon 57: 1371. 2003 – nomen novum for Lloydia delicatula Noltie

Unsupported repository item type: Specimen Photo


Carex noltiei S.R. Zhang, Bot. J. Linn Soc. 2015. – nomen novum for Kobresia woodii Noltie

Unsupported repository item type: Herbarium Specimen Scan


Some of my personal favourites

Being a son of Angus, and fairly parochial with it, it would be remiss of me not to mention/start with Ingram & Noltie’s The Flora of Angus (1981). Although dated, and older than I am, I do used this relatively frequently and am constantly amused when I mention Henry’s name outwith Botanics circles and get “oh Henry Noltie? As in Flora of Angus?”

Flora of Bhutan Volume 3 pt.1 (1994) & pt 2 (2001). We carried an entire set of the Flora of Bhutan when I was lucky enough to go there in 2009. I have fond memories of keying out Liliaceae and Iridaceae in the field and folk fighting over who would *have to* look at the grasses, sorry Henry. It’s also fitting that the two species  to commemorate Henry’s contributions are both monocots.









While working as a digitiser in the Botanics’ herbarium The Botany of Robert Wight (2005) taught me more about nomenclature and the issues surround 19th C specimens and names that any other text. It also showed me the value of the history and stories behind those specimens and names . This book was a massive help to me while working on the project as I waded through the large number of Robert Wight’s Type specimens from the Indian subcontinent that we have in the herbarium at Edinburgh.


It hasn’t all been botany, Henry did a stint working in high-end retail in his youth and more excitingly he now combines retail and botany with his own shop on Diagon Alley, Noltie’s Botanical Novelties.

I’ll miss Henry and our chats about Angus, long dead botanists, his look of disbelief when I out myself time and again as a philistine, but more importantly not being able to call on his eclectic and encyclopedic knowledge.

Also, I’m really pleased that there is a Carex noltiei, because as we at the Botanics know all to well, Henry is fond of a “handsome sedge”.

Sorry Henry you are probably cringing but it had to be done….