The dispersal of Allan Cunningham's botanical collections

Anthony Orchard


Allan Cunningham’s herbarium collections are known to be distributed in at least 26 institutions world-wide. Many passed through several hands before being lodged in an official herbarium. The history of their collection, Cunningham’s numbering practices, and the intricate web of distribution of specimens through the hands of friends, colleagues and dealers is traced from letters, published accounts and the multifarious labels appearing on the herbarium sheets themselves. Particular attention is paid to Cunningham’s Asteraceae used by Candolle in the Prodromus, as these bear different numbers in Geneva (G, G-DC), Kew (K) and the Natural History Museum (BM) herbaria, and in some others. For many of these collections it has been possible to reconcile these differences, leading to the identification of hitherto unrecognised Type material. Many of the different kinds of labels attached to Cunningham specimens are illustrated, and interpreted. A brief synopsis is provided of the distribution of some of his other collections, of mammals, birds, reptiles, insects and artefacts. Two Appendices are provided: one listing Cunningham's Asteraceae donation to Candolle, with details of surviving holdings in various herbaria, and the other a list of specimens given by Cunningham to the captain of the ship L’Héroine for the French government.


History of science; Allan Cunningham; herbarium collections

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