Richard Spruce (1817-1893)

English Botanist. Along with Wallace and Bates, one of the three great mid-19th century European explorers of South America. Spruce, a commercial collector with no formal scientific training, worked off and on with Wallace and Bates during the early part of his stay in the Amazon basin. Spruce was primarily an expert on mosses but also made major collections of vascular plants and made ethnographic and linguistic studies of native South Americans. William Hooker was one of his supporters among English botanists, and in 1860 Spruce worked for Hooker and the British government to collect seeds of the tree used in making quinine (important in combatting malaria, then a major barrier to British imperialism). After Spruce's return to England, Wallace, Darwin and Hooker obtained a government pension for him; Wallace later edited and published Spruce's journals. The Natural History Museum and Royal Botanic Gardens maintain a Richard Spruce web site.

Spruce in about 1889. From Raby, p. 122.


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