Richard Spruce

Richard Spruce was a botanist, traveller, writer and plant collector active, particularly in exploring South America, in the mid- to late-19th century. He was born on 10 September 1817 in Ganthorpe, Yorkshire, England and is best remembered for his outstanding contribution to Amazonian botany.

For fifteen years Spruce explored South America, discovering on his plant hunting expeditions, from Brazil to Ecuador, thousands of new plants and compiling information on the several different cultures he encountered.

Spruce is also noted as being one of those responsible for providing the British government with seeds of the Cinchona tree, the bark from which the drug quinine was made, and for his helping to establish plantations from it in the British colonies, thus assisting millions of people in the fight against malaria.

Spruce died in Coneysthorpe, Yorkshire on 28 December 1893.

Sources:

Natural History Museum, 'Richard Spruce Collection' < http://www.nhm.ac.uk/jdsml/research-curation/research/projects/spruce/ > [accessed 7 December 2008]

Further Reading:

Boulger, G.S., ‘Spruce, Richard (1817-1893)', rev. Ian Francis Locke, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Oct 2008) < http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/26184 > [accessed 7 December 2008]

National Archives, National Regsister of Archives, Person Details, 'Spruce, Richard (1817-1893) Botanist, GB/NNAF/P126875' < http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/nra/searches/subjectView.asp?ID=P26915 > [accessed 7 December 2008]