The son of a schoolmaster, Spruce was born near Ganthorpe, a small village near the park and mansion of Castle Howard, in Yorkshire. He lived for some years in Welburn, to the south, before going to South America. After his return, he passed the last 17 years of his life in nearby Coneysthorpe.
As a child, Spruce "showed much aptitude for learning, and at an early age developed a great love of nature. Amongst his favourite amusements was the making of lists of plants, and he had also a great liking for astronomy." In 1834, aged 16, he drew up a neatly written list of all the plants he had found around Ganthorpe – arranged alphabetically and containing 403 species, the gathering and naming must certainly have occupied some years.
Three years later he had drawn up a List of the Flora of the Malton District and this contains 485 species of flowering plants. Several of Spruce's localities for the rarer plants are given in Henry Baines's Flora of Yorkshire, published in 1840.
Read more about this topic: Richard Spruce
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