Notes of a Botanist on the Amazon & Andes,
being records of travel on the Amazon and its tributaries, the Trombetas, Rio Negro, Uaupés, Casiquiari, Pacimoni, Huallaga, and Pastasa; as also to the cataracts of the Orinoco, along the eastern side of the Andes of Peru and Ecuador, and the shores of the Pacific, during the years 1849-1864. Edited and condensed by Alfred Russel Wallace.London, Macmillan and Co., Limited, 1908 Stock Code: 119025
NotesFirst edition. One of Wallace's later works was this edition of the botanical papers and diaries of his friend and co-Amazonian explorer Richard Spruce, who had died in 1894. "This work best reflects Spruce's gift for analysis, description, and narrative, along with his dry humour" (ODNB).
Spruce was sent to South America in 1849 by Hooker, Bentham, and other botanists; Bentham was to receive, name, and distribute the plants Spruce sent home. Towards the end of the year Spruce travelled up the Amazon to Santarém, at the mouth of the Tapajos, where he met Wallace and the lepidopterist Henry Walter Bates. Spruce spent three years on the rivers Negro and Orinoco, entering Venezuela and discovering many plants new to science, including 200 species of fungi in the rain forest of the Uapes. His travels were interrupted in 1852 when he returned to the River Negro to assist Wallace, who had been struck down by malaria, and oversee his safe passage down river. After extensive travels, Spruce remained on the Pacific coast until 1864, when he lost his entire capital in the collapse of a Peruvian bank. He returned to England in 1867 after an absence of 18 years.
The work stands as a landmark of ethnobotany. Among Spruce's discoveries were a number of plants with medicinal properties, including the datura and coca plants. (It was his samples of the latter, sent to Berlin, which helped Dr Nieman isolate the active principle of the alkaloid cocaine in 1858). Spruce also made the first detailed reports of ayahuasca and yopo and the ceremonial usage of these hallucinogenic plants. (See Schultes & Hofmann, Plants of the Gods, for numerous references to Spruce).
With the bookplate of Joseph M. Gleason (1869-1942), an American Catholic priest, scholar and book collector.
2 volumes, octavo. Original green cloth, titles to spines gilt, top edge gilt.
Portrait frontispiece with tissue-guard to vol. 1, 71 illustrations and 7 maps, the final one folding.
Bookseller's ticket to rear pastedown of vol. 1. Slight wear to extremities, light offsetting to endpapers; an excellent set.
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