The plantation failed, as did a second venture. But, in the process, he became a regular correspondent with Kew Gardens in London which asked him to collect hevea seeds.
On the promise of payment of £10 per 1,000 seeds, he collected a total of 70,000 and to expedite their shipment to the United Kingdom, chartered the empty steamship, 'Amazonas', in the name of the Government of India.
Legends have grown around this venture (aided by Wickham's own accounts) but it appears that, far from smuggling the seed from Brazil, Wickham sought and gained assistance from the Brazilian customs office, gaining priority clearance for what was described as 'delicate botanical specimens.'
On June 15, 1876, the seeds were planted in the germination bed at Kew Gardens (orchids were not turned out of the hot houses to accommodate them) and four percent germinated. Wickham's suggestions that the seedlings should be planted in Peninsular Burma and that he should convey and supervise them were rejected and he went to Australia, taking with him coffee plants.
He pioneered a number of crops in Queensland, British Honduras, the Conflict Islands and Papua - none of which were successful. Later, he was appointed as a consultant in the nascent Malayan rubber industry, being voted £1,000 from the rubber growers in 1911 and subsequently an annuity of £400.
US companies later gave him £6,000 and the Federated Malay States Government £8,000.
He was knighted in 1920. He died on 27 September 1928. His name will be forever connected with rubber history."