Kenneth Cox in the gardens at GlendoickKenneth Cox in the gardens at Glendoick

3 generations of Plant-hunting 1919 to the present

We think that we are the only 3 generation plant hunting dynasty: unless you know different.

Plant Hunting

In Search of New Plant Species

Cox Plant Introductions

Euan Cox, Peter Cox, Kenneth Cox, 3 generations of Plant-hunting 1919 to the present We think that we be the only 3 generation plant hunting dynasty: unless you know different.

Reginald Farrer Euan Cox

The golden age of plant-hunting from around 1850-1950 saw an astonishing number of now common garden plants introduced for the first time from the mountains of Asia, from roses to rhododendrons, magnolias to meconopsis and primulas to pieris. Euan Cox made a single expedition to Burma with Reginald Farrer in 1919 but later became the unofficial historian of Himalayan and Chinese plant hunting in his books and magazines.

Due to political upheaval, from the mid 1950 to the early 1980s, the mountains of China and most of the Himalaya were no longer accessible to plant hunters. George Sherriff and his wife Betty, who had been successful plant-hunters in Bhutan and Tibet in the 30s and 40s, lived near Glendoick at Ascreavie, and soon inspired Peter to go off to the wilds in search of new species himself. In 1960, Peter Cox met Peter Hutchison and the two discovered that they had a mutual interest in plant-hunting. In due course the two Peters mounted an successful expedition to Turkey in 1962 and in 1965, with Patricia Cox they set off for north-east India to an area never before explored botanically, leaving their one-year-old son Kenneth behind with his godmother Averil. Despite the itinerary being severely curtailed due to political upheaval following the Chinese invasion of Arunachal Pradesh in 1962, they managed to discover and introduce several new rhododendron species. These were from fairly low altitudes and have not proven to be very hardy. 



The two Peters then set their sights on establishing a garden in western Scotland which would be suitable for growing plants which were too tender for Glendoick. Their search led them to a woodland on the side of west Loch Tarbert and Baravalla was born. The Cox family spent many weekends in the midge and tick infested towering bracken planting the first trees and shrubs in the garden. 30 years on the garden is an impressive sight, only open by special invitation to keen plantsmen and women. 

It was not until 1981 that it was once again possible to visit China. Peter Cox was one of the participants in the SBEC expedition to the Cangshan in Yunnan. This was a joint expedition with Chinese and British experts working together. It led to the first availability of large numbers of rhododendrons from wild seed for almost 30 years and the SBEC seed and plants were distributed all over the world. Since then Peter Cox has been to part of China, Tibet and the Himalaya almost every year.


Kenneth Cox waited a good few years before going to China with Peter Cox for the first time in 1992. From 1993 onwards Kenneth has been leading his own expeditions in search of plants. In 1995 Kenneth lead the first major plant hunting trip to Tibet since the days of Ludlow & Sherriff and in the 10 years which followed Kenneth concentrated his efforts on the little explored region of the Tibet/Arunachal border. Kenneth edited a full colour revision of Frank Kingdon Ward's classic Riddle of the Tsangpo Gorges in 2001. in 2002 Kenneth Cox and explorer Ken Storm managed to obtain permission to explore the lower Tsangpo Gorge and Yang Sang valley in Arunachal Pradesh India. This area had never before been botanised properly and they found several new and interesting rhododendron species. From 2002-2005 Kenneth explored one of the least known and most impenetrable parts of the Himalaya, where most of the mountain ranges are virgin plant-hunting territory. His rhododendron species discovery R. titapuriense was named recently.


Many new plant species have been introduced by Peter & Kenneth Cox expeditions. Some of the most notable rhododendrons introduced since 1981 include R. dendrocharis, R. ochraceum, R. platypodum, R. denudatum, R. miniatum, R. trilectorum, R. luciferum, R. laudandum, R. monanthum, R. kasoense and R. huianum. Other plants include Gentiana ternifolia, Primula moupinensis, Ilex nothofagifolia and. P. faberi.

Cox Plant Introductions

Peter Cox: highlights of Plant Hunting Career so far

  • First trip to N.E. Turkey 1962, re-introducing all 5 Rhododendron species to be found there as well as lilies and other plants.
  • Exploring new territory in Arunachal Pradesh, N.E. India in 1965 and discovering and introducing 3 new Rhododendron species: R. coxianum, R. santapaui, R. subansiriense.
  • First ever joint expedition with Chinese botanists to Cang Shan in Yunnan in 1981. We were permitted to collect plants in addition to seed and introduced or re-introduced many plants such as Anemone trullifolia, Chrysosplenium davidianum, Gentiana ternifolia, Paris polyphylla var. thibetica forma alba and re-introduced many rhododendrons such as scarce species R. lacteum, R. taliense, R. cyanocarpum.
  • First introductions of Rhododendron dendrocharis to be propagated and put into commerce, 1989.
  • Areas visited in 1995 not explored by the great collectors in S.C. Sichuan, N.E. and S.E. Yunnan with several Rhododendron species introduced for the first time:- R. coeloneuron, R. denudatum, R. huianum, R. ochraceum, R. sinofalconeri, R. valentianum var. oblongilobatum.
  • Crossing the famous Doshong La in S.E. Tibet in 1996 on one of son Kenneth's expeditions, one of the few westerners to do this.
  • Exploring un-botanised territory in Aruanchal Pradesh in 2002 with Kenneth, and finding new species and ones discovered but not previously introduced. Seeing Rhododendron ludlowii in the wild, the most successful dwarf species used in my hybridisation program.
  • Finding Meconopsis grandis aff. which appears to be very close to the famous G.S. 600 (Sherriff collection) in 2004 and seeing it in flower. Cox Plant Introductions


Kenneth Cox Plant Hunting

ken concatenans


1990 Malaysia and Indonesia.

1992 Sino Scottish Expedition to N.W. Yunnan (Chungtien, Bei Ma Shan) 

1993 N.W. Yunnan, China (leader)

1994 N.W. Yunnan (Weixi), China (leader)
1995 S.E. Tibet, Namche Barwa region (leader)
1996 S.E. Tibet, Tsangpo Gorges, Pemako, Namche Barwa (leader)
1997 S.E. Tibet, Zayul, Pome (leader)
1998 Tsari, S.E. Tibet. (leader)
1999 Tsari S.E. Tibet (leader)
2001 Arunachal Pradesh, upper Siang.
2002 Arunachal Pradesh, Subansiri-Siyom divide (leader)
2003 Arunachal Pradesh: Dibang & Tawang/Kameng
2005 Arunachal Pradesh Upper Siang, Riutala pass & kora 

2012 S Sichuan, Muli China (leader)

2013 Northern Vietnam 

2015  Sri Lanka

Kenneth Cox highlights of plant-hunting career so far

  • -Finding and introducing (for the first time) R. cephalanthum var. platyphyllum from the Cangshan in 2002 when Peter Cox had failed to find it on previous expeditions.
  • -Climbing Ta Pao Shan near Weihsi in 1993 and finding over 25 rhododendron species such as R. rothschildii and R. beesianum all the way up to the top.
  • -1995-6 Leading the first plant-hunting expeditions to cross the Doshong La in Tibet since Ludlow & Sherriff. The expeditions introduced several plants for the first time: R. bulu, R. laudandum, R. dignabile, R. cephalanthum Nmaiense Group, Cupressus gigantea (the real thing), Podophyllum aurantiocaule
  • -Reaching Tsari in 1999 and introducing for the first time: R. miniatum, R. luciferum, yellow R. phaeochrysum, and for the 2nd time R. pudorosum.
  • -Exploring a virgin part of Arunachal Pradesh with American explorer Ken Storm Jr in 2000-2004 and introducing several new species of Rhododendron, such as R. populare, at least one of which have not yet been described. Also introducing R. trilectorum for the first time. My father seeing R. ludlowii in the wild and saying that 2002 was his best ever expedition.
  • -Crossing the Subansiri-Siyom divide India, probably the first non Indians to do so.
  • -Editing and writing a new edition of Frank Kingdon Ward's Riddle of the Tsangpo Gorges in 2000 with Frank's wife's support.
  • -Discovering an entirely new species of rhododendron in Arunachal Pradesh which is 30m high, with large leaves, flowers unseen. No seed in 2001. Finally got it in 2005. R. titapuriense. Named in 2012
  • Getting to Muli, Sichuan in 2012 and finding the famous Lapponica covered lakeside, as the old plant hunters described. 

Cox Plant-Hunting Expeditions

Euan Cox With Reginald Farrer 
1919 Burma 

Peter Cox, mostly with Peter Hutchison, sometimes with Patricia Cox, Kenneth Cox


1962 N.E. Turkey
1965 Arunachal Pradesh (N.E.F.A.), India. Discovered 3 new species of rhododendron and introduced several other new plants
1981 Sino British Expedition to China- N.E. Yunnan 1981 with Roy Lancaster, etc
1985 Nepal
1986 Yunnan, (Lijiang) Sichuan, China.
1988 Bhutan
1989 China, (Sichuan)
1990 China (Sichuan U.K.-U.S.A. trip)
1992 Sino Scottish Expedition to N.Yunnan (Chungtien, Bei Ma Shan)
1993 Yunnan China, Salween-Mekong divide
1994 Salween Mekong divide (Spring), Yunnan
1995 S.C. Sichuan and N.E. & S.E. Yunnan.
1996 S.E. Tibet, Tsangpo Gorges, Pemako, Namche Barwa (with Kenneth Cox)
1996 S. Chile with Patricia Cox
1997 Salween, Yunnan, China
1998 Tsari, S.E. Tibet. (With Kenneth Cox)
1999 Sichuan & Guizhou, China
2000 Salween, Yunnan, China
2002 Arunachal Pradesh (with Kenneth Cox)
2004 Arunachal Pradesh Tawang area (with Patricia Cox)
2006 Arunachal Pradesh

2006 Chile

2007 Sichuan, China
2009 Guizhou, Guanxi, China (6SM)

2012 China: Sichuan  CDHM
2008 Armenia
2010 Guizhou, Guanxi, China2011 Georgia

2012 Sichuan, China


Ken Cox, Monty Don

Ken Cox & Monty Don 2015

Ken Cox, Monty Don 2015

Festive Tasting Weekend 2023
Festive Tasting Weekend 2023

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