Richard Spruce - Career


This early interest in botany led him to being sent on a collecting trip in the Pyrenees in 1845-6. In 1849 he followed Alfred Russel Wallace and Henry Walter Bates to the Amazon, collecting more than 30,000 plant specimens there and in the Andes during the next 14 years. After returning to England he wrote The Hepaticae of the Amazon and the Andes of Peru and Ecuador.

His paper on the Musci and Hepaticae of Teesdale, the result of a three weeks' excursion, showed him to be one of the most lynx-eyed discoverers of rare species, as well as an accurate discriminator of them. In Baines's Flora of Yorkshire (1840) only four mosses were recorded from Teesdale, though no doubt many more had been collected – Spruce raised the number to 167 mosses and 41 hepaticae, of which six mosses and one Jungermannia were new to Britain.

In April 1845 he published in the London Journal of Botany descriptions of 23 new British mosses, of which about half were discovered by himself and the remainder by other botanists. In the same year he published, in the Phytologist, his "List of the Musci and Hepaticae of Yorkshire," in which he recorded no less than 48 mosses new to the English Flora and 33 others new to that of Yorkshire.

In 1860 Spruce's twenty-fifth paper On the Mountains of Llanganati in the Eastern Cordillera of the Quitonian Andes, the basis for exploration in the Llanganati Mountains in Ecuador was established. Throughout the twentieth century countless adventurers and explorers, including Jordan H. Stabler, Colonel Edwards Cranston Brooks, Captain Eric Erskine Loch, Commander George Miller Dyott and Eugene Konrad Brunner utilized Spruce's paper in their quest for the Treasure of the Llanganatis.

In 1864 Spruce was awarded a PhD by the Academiae Germanicae Naturae Curiosum and in 1866 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

The standard author abbreviation Spruce is used to indicate this individual as the author when citing a botanical name.

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