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New Zealand Plants and their Story

Menzies, D'Urville, and Richard

Menzies, D'Urville, and Richard.

In 1791, Captain Vancouver, of Arctic fame, visited Dusky Sound, and in the dripping forests Mr. A. Menzies, the surgeon of the expedition, reaped an abundant harvest of the lower plants, which there grow in the richest profusion—the mosses and liverworts. Many of these are beautifully figured in Sir W. J. Hooker's fine work, "Musci Exotici," which appeared in 1818-20. For twenty-seven years to have elapsed between the collecting and publishing of these plants speaks volumes for the leisurely methods pursued by scientific men a hundred years ago as contrasted with the haste of the present age.

And now the French come into our story, for science is cosmopolitan. In 1822, Admiral D'Urville, then an officer, but five years later captain of the same vessel, the "Astrolabe," occupied himself on the shores of Cook Strait in making collections, in company with an excellent naturalist, M. Lesson. The plants they gathered were described by A. Richard in a sterling work bearing the title, "Essay d'une Flore de la Nouvelle Zélande." So well did Richard perform his task that the book is a necessary adjunct to the library of any New Zealand botanist at the present day, especially as it clears up certain points left in doubt by the Forsters. The names of D'Urville, page 17Lesson, and Richard remain embalmed in the New Zealand flora in Rapanea Urvillei, Pseudopanax Lessonii, and Polystichum Richardi: while D'Urville Island, the French Pass, and Astrolabe Harbour tell of this important expedition.