A Risk For Plants
On this day in 2013, Jamie Taggert, the young Scottish botanist, set out on a solo Plant Expedition to Vietnam.
Jamie grew up with his botanist father, Jim, and tended the garden his dad founded - the Linn Botanic Gardens that overlooks Loch Long on Cove Bay in Scottland. The ancestors of Hugh Grant once owned the estate.
The Linn Botanic Garden is home to almost 4,000 plant species. Back in 2013, Jamie was beginning his third plant-hunting expedition. It was his first solo trip, and he was planning to explore the mountains of Northern Vietnam - a place he had botanized on an earlier trip.
When he arrived in Vietnam, he sent his dad a text to let him know he had arrived. On the morning of Halloween, he checked into a guest house and then took a taxi to the National Park of Fansipan - the tallest mountain in Vietnam. A tea seller at the base of the mountain watched Jamie walk toward the mountain. She would be the last person to see Jamie alive.
Over two years later, a Vietnamese farmer found Jamie's body at the bottom of a waterfall. Jamie apparently died attempting to scale the slippery rocks.
Rob Curran wrote an excellent article about Jamie's story in Believer Magazine. He writes that many people have asked: "What was he thinking?" Why did Jamie take such a risk for plants? Curran concludes his article this way:
"What was he thinking? He was thinking of Menzies and the great Scots explorers. He was thinking of Mother Nature on the run from climate change and high-capacity cable cars. He was thinking of the beauty of the flower he had just discovered, and whether anyone else would ever see it. For what is the act of discovery if not leaving the safe foothold of the known to reach into the abyss?"