George_sherriff_350x550Date of Birth – 1898

Sherriff was educated at Sedbergh and the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich. He went out to India at the end of World War I as a gunner. While serving on the N.W. Frontier at Nowshera he was invited to fill the vacant post of Vice Consul at Kashgar. Whilst there he met Frank Ludlow – both were experienced travellers, keen ornithologists and fascinated by Tibet. It was to be a life long working relationship.

They were introduced to the Maharajah who was very important in making travel possible – in spring 1933 they set out on a exploratory journey through Tibet and made a small collection of 500 plants. They worked very well as a team and went on to plan a more ambitious survey of the Himalayan chain to study the distribution of plants. They started the following year (1934) in June but it was not a good year with delays waiting for passports, heavy rains and malaria. Their discoveries included new primulas – Primula sherriffae, Primula ludlowii and the shrub Luculia grandifolia. Sherriff returned to Britain in 1935 then he and Ludlow resumed the exploration the following year. The third phase was an outstanding success. They visited a sacred region visited by the botanist Kingdon Ward where grazing and cultivation was forbidden – it was a paradise of flowers. from the expedition they brought back some 2000 specimens – 2 crates of living material, large quantities of seeds. Their finds included 69 rhododendrons – 13 of which were new, 59 primulas – 14 new. Amongst those introduced were Meconopsis sherriffii, Codonopsis vinciflora, Rhododendron sherriffii, Cyananthus sherriffii, Primula kingii, Primula muscarioides.

1937 Sherriff made a solo visit to the Black Mountains in Bhutan. 1938 the partnership continued eastward across Tibet eventually going east to Bhutan – collecting 5000 specimens including many novelties. World War II cancelled their efforts further. They made 2 more expeditions 1946-47 then again in 1949. Both men retired to Britain – Ludlow to a post in Kew and Sherriff to an estate in Kirriemiur. There he created a garden and grew Himalayan plants, boasting every known species of primulas. Of the 27 he discovered 7 received horticultural awards.
Ludlow and Sherriff introduced a number of superior forms of plants already known. They were discriminating collectors – plants for the connoisseur but often not easy to grow. Sherriff was one of first collectors to be able to send plants back by air which enabled him to introduce species with delicate viability. Although he received some grants for his expeditions many were financed by himself.

Countries visited: India, Tibet, Bhutan

Awards: VMH 1953

George Sherriff Main Plant Introductions:

  • Abies spectabilis
  • Berberis sherriffii
  • Berberis taylorii
  • Bergenia ligulata
  • Buddleia colvillei
  • Cardiocrinum giganteum
  • Codonopsis vinciflora
  • Cyananthus sherriffii
  • Euphorbia griffithii
  • Gentiana sino ornata
  • Lillium nepalense
  • Lillium wallichianum
  • Meconopsis betonicifolia
  • Meconopsis grandis
  • Meconopsis integrifolia
  • Meconopsis paniculata
  • Meconopsis sherriffii
  • Paeonia lutea var ludlowii
  • Paeonia sterniana
  • Piptanthus nepaulensis
  • Primula chungensis
  • Primula involucrata
  • Primula ioessa
  • Primula kingii
  • Primula muscanoides
  • Primula sandemaniana
  • Primula sikkimensis
  • Primula whiteii
  • Rhododendron arboreum
  • Rhododendron campanulatum
  • Rhododendron campylocarpum
  • Rhododendron ciliatum
  • Rhododendron hodgsonii
  • Rhododendron neriiflorum