Richard Spruce

Richard Spruce ( born September 10, 1817 in Ganthorpe, Yorkshire, England; † December 28, 1893 in Coneysthorpe, Yorkshire ) was an English botanist and naturalist. He was known as a specialist in Bryophyta ( mosses), and by his 15 -year-old Latin American expedition. Its official botanical author abbreviation is " Spruce ".


Richard Spruce was born on September 10, 1817 in Ganthorpe, near Castle Howard, in Yorkshire, the son of a teacher. In the years 1839-1844 he was employed as a teacher. After excursions in Ireland and after an expedition in the Pyrenees from 1845 to 1846 he was recognized as an expert in mosses and in particular for liverworts. He found and described repeatedly unknown species. His expeditions he financed by the sale of collected specimens in museums.

Although he had health problems over and over again, he set in 1849 on an expedition to South America. He explored the fauna of the Amazon and the Andes. The collected specimens he sent to England at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in southwest London. He spent a total of 15 years in Brazil, Venezuela, Peru and Ecuador. In Ecuador, he sought to procure seeds of Chinarindenbaum tree, from the bark of the antimalarial agent quinine was obtained. Due to its plant collections, and the detailed description of each type, he expanded the knowledge of the flora of the Amazon. He was also a keen observer of the indigenous population and provided precise descriptions of their life and culture.

1864 Spruce returned back to England. In the following years he evaluated his collections, as far as his health permitted. At times, it was not possible for him to go several hundred meters or to use a microscope. Richard Spruce died in Coneysthorpe, Yorkshire, England on 28 December 1893.