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Notes of a Botanist on the Amazon & Andes
SPRUCE, Richard; Alfred Russel Wallace (ed.)

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, with a biographical introduction, portrait, seventy-one illustrations and seven maps. In two volumes.

Availability: In stock

Published: London Macmillan and Co., Limited, 1908

Stock Code: 110960

£1,250
OR On display in 100 Fulham Road

Notes

First 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 had been sent to South America in 1849 by Hooker, Bentham, and other botanists; Bentham was to receive, name, and distribute the plants he 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.)

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Description

2 volumes, octavo. Original green cloth, spines lettered in gilt, top edge gilt.

Illustrations

Portrait frontispiece, 71 illustrations, 7 maps (the last folding).

Condition

With the small ownership stamp of Roger Perry and a bookplate recording his donation to the Spruce memorial plaque installed at Coneysthorpe, Yorkshire in 1971. Roger Perry (1933-2016) was director of the Charles Darwin Research Station, Galapagos, from 1964 to 1970. Spines a little faded and worn at ends, browning to endpapers, still a very good copy.

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