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The Vegetation of New Zealand

1. The Period of Voyages of Discovery in the South Pacific and of Investigations by Botanists from abroad

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1. The Period of Voyages of Discovery in the South Pacific and of Investigations by Botanists from abroad.

The voyages of Captain Cook. Leaving out of the question knowledge of the plants such as the Maoris possessed, New Zealand botany commences with the landing of Sir Joseph Banks and Dr Solander at Poverty Bay on Oct. 8 th, 1769, from Cook's famous ship, the Endeavour. Cook remained in New Zealand waters until March 31st, 1770. Collecting was confined to a few places on the coast of North Island from Poverty Bay to the Bay of Islands and to Queen Charlotte Sound and Admiralty Bay in South Island. Altogether some 360 species of vascular plants were gathered, most coming from Tolaga Bay (160 spp.) and Queen Charlotte Sound (220 spp.).

Cook set sail on his second voyage on April 9 th, 1772, accompanied by J. R. Forster and G. Forster, the son, as naturalists. At the Cape of Good Hope, A. Sparmann was engaged as assistant naturalist. On March 26th, 1773, Cook put into Dusky Sound, remaining until May 1st, during which period the first investigation of the actual South Island flora was made, that of Queen Charlotte Sound being almost identical with that of the most southern part of North Island. May 18 th to June 7 th was spent in Queen Charlotte Sound. The total number of vascular plants collected was 190, a poor result considering the great opportunities for collecting. The botanists ascended none of the mountains at Dusky Sound and their rich high-mountain flora remained unknown, except for two or three specimens probably collected by some of Cook's officers who partially climbed one of the mountains. Twelve months after their return, the Forsters conjointly issued their Characteres Genera Plantarum, in which, with other genera, 31 belonging to New Zealand are described and figured. In 1786 G. Forster published his Florulae Insularum Australium Prodromus, 170 of the species mentioned therein being from New Zealand.

From Vancouver's Voyage (1791) to the publication of the Flora Antarctica (1847). Captain Vancouver on his way to north-west North America, put into Dusky Sound for nearly 3 weeks. A. Menzies, the surgeon, collected ferns, mosses and liverworts. The greater part of his specimens were described by Sir W. J. Hooker and beautifully figured in the Musci Exotici (1818–20) and the Icones Filicum.

It was not until 1824 that further botanical investigations were made, when from the French corvette, "Coquille", Lieut. D'Urville and A. Lesson made a collection of plants at the Bay of Islands. The colonization of New South Wales had for some time past made itself felt. Whaling and page 9sealing were pursued with vigour on the New Zealand coast; missions had been established since 1814, and settlement in the north was gradually extending. C. Fraser of the Sydney Botanic Garden, in 1825, collected a few plants at the Bay of Islands, and probably he had previously received one or two species from Macquarie Island.

In 1826 Allan Cunningham, His Majesty's Botanist at Port Jackson, spent four months botanizing from the Bay of Islands to Hokianga and in the neighbourhood of Whangaroa. Aided by natives and missionaries, he did valuable work, collecting 300 species, many of them new, together with ample duplicates. The following year, D'Urville again visited New Zealand, this time as commander of the "Astrolabe". He was accompanied, as before, by Lesson. Collections were made at various localities on the north coast of South Island, and at a few places in North Island from Tolaga Bay to the Bay of Islands. The botanical results were published in 1832 by A. Richard in his Essai d'une Flore de la Nouvelle Zélande1) which dealt also with the previous French collections and those of the Forsters.

R. Cunningham, brother of Allan Cunningham, Superintendent of the Sydney Gardens, made extensive collections during 5 months of 1833 near Whangaroa, the Bay of Islands and Hokianga. The material collected by himself and his brother forms the basis of a series of papers by A. Cunningham published in the Companion to the Botanical Magazine, Vol. 2., and continued in the Annals and Magazine of Natural History (the popular name of that publication) under the title Florae Insularum Novae Zelandiae Praecursor2. In 1839 J. C. Bidwtll visited New Zealand, penetrating to the centre of North Island and ascending Ngauruhoe, in the neighbourhood of which he discovered typical alpine plants. Later on, he revisited the Colony, and, in Nelson, added to the knowledge of the high-mountain flora. From 1840–42 E. Dieffenbach, naturalist to the New Zealand Company, travelled through much of North Island, ascended Mount Egmont, and, in South Island, spent some time on the coast of Marlborough3. The flora of Banks Peninsula was first investigated in 1840–41 by E. Raoul, surgeon to the "Aube" and "Allier". He discovered many new spermophytes, and in 1844 his finely illustrated Choix de Plantes de la Nouvelle Zelande appeared, in which are enumerated all the species then known.

1 1) This excellent publication, even yet of moment, is the first dealing with the flora as a whole. The 380 species include 211 spermophytes, 51 pteridophytes and 118 lower cryptogams.

2 2) This important work contains descriptions of nearly all the then known species and includes 639, of which 394 are spermophytes, 95 pteridophytes and 150 lower cryptogams, an increase of 259 species since Richard's work.

3 3) Considering his excellent opportunities, his collections were scanty. In his Travels in New Zealand (1843) there is some scattered information as to the vegetation, and one chapter deals briefly with the flora. He also visited Chatham Island, but gathered only 12 species.

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The years 1839–40 mark a most important phase in the history of New Zealand botany, in the searching examination of the Lord Auckland and Campbell Islands by the botanists of the French and English Antarctic expeditions. The former, under Admiral D'Urville, anchored in Port Ross from the 11th to the 12th of March, 1840. Botanical collections were made by the naturalists, Hombron and Jacquifot, and the Admiral himself. The results were published at intervals from 1845–54 as part of a splendid work Voyage au Pole sud et dans lOcéanie sur les Corvettes "lAstrolabe" et "la Zélée" pendant les années 1837 aacute 18401.

The English expedition, under Sir James Ross, spent from Nov. 20 th to Dec. 13 th at the northern end of the Lord Auckland Group, and from Dec. 13th to Dec. 17th, 1840, on Campbell Island. Joseph Dalton Hooker was botanist to the expedition, and associated with him was Lyall. It is impossible to speak too highly of Hooker's untiring industry and skill as a collector, for, notwithstanding the visits of several botanists to these islands, and of one well-equipped expedition, but few additional species have been recorded. Hooker devoted the first volume of his magnificent Flora Antarctica (1844) to the description of this wonderful flora that he had been so largely instrumental in making known. The. 400 species dealt with comprise 105 spermophytes, 18 pteridophytes, and 277 lower cryptogams.' The American Wilke's expedition visited Lord Auckland Island at about the same time as the French, but its botanical discoveries are of little moment.

1 1) There is a folio volume of admirable plates with the names of the species by Hombron and Jacquinot, and two volumes of descriptions, the one (Muscineae and Thallophyta) by Montagne, and the other (vascular plants) by Decaisne.