Title: Early New Zealand Botanical Art

Author: F. Bruce Sampson

Publication details: Reed Methuen, 1985, Auckland

Digital publication kindly authorised by: F. Bruce Sampson

Part of: New Zealand Texts Collection

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Early New Zealand Botanical Art

The first voyage to New Zealand

The first voyage to New Zealand

Louis Isidore Duperrey (1786-1865), a friend of d'Urville's and senior to him in the navy, drew up a plan for a voyage of discovery. This was eventually accepted by the authorities, and the Coquille sailed for southern waters in August 1822, with Duperrey as commander and Dumont d'Urville second-in-command as executive officer. The voyage lasted two years and seven months, with the Coquille sailing about 73,000 miles (117,500 kilometres) from Toulon to the Canary Islands, Brazil, around Cape Horn, up the west coast of South America, then to New Guinea, the Moluccas and down to Port Jackson (Sydney). They reached the Bay of Islands, New Zealand, on 20 March 1824 and stayed there until 17 April. The return journey from New Zealand was via New Guinea, the East Indies, around the Cape of Good Hope to the Mediterranean, and back to Toulon in March 1825.

Plate 9 Cyathea dealbata (ponga or silver tree fern)

One of New Zealand's best-known plants, with a leaflet that is the national emblem for sporting teams and the armed forces, the silver tree fern occurs in lowland to montane forest throughout New Zealand, including the Chatham Islands. It is also found on Lord Howe Island. The trunks, clothed with the persistent bases of leaf stalks, reach up to ten metres high. The name "silver fern" derives from the silvery-white colour of the undersurfaces of the leaflets, which are bright green above (and green underneath on very young plants). The rows of reddish-brown hemispherical objects between the margin and midrib on the underside of each leaf segment, shown near the top of the plate, are known as indusia. Each encloses a mass of sporangia, and each sporangium releases a mass of spores when the indusium withers under dry conditions. In the enlarged, uncoloured drawing at lower right, sporangia are shown covered (left) by two indusia and, at right, after they have withered. The enlarged drawing at left shows these same features at a lower magnification. A portion of the entire leaf (frond) is shown in the coloured part of the illustration, which is from Atlas Botanique of Voyage de I'Astrolabe (1826-1829). It was drawn by Vauthier and engraved by M. Mougeot, who also did some engravings for the botanical Atlas of d'Urville's last voyage.

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Plate 9 Cyathea dealbata (Forst. f.) Swartz. (silver tree fern) M. Vauthier (in d'Urville's Voyage de I'Astrolabe 1826-1829)

Plate 9 Cyathea dealbata (Forst. f.) Swartz. (silver tree fern) M. Vauthier (in d'Urville's Voyage de I'Astrolabe 1826-1829)

The voyage resulted in the discovery of some islands, improved map making and the collection of a vast number of biological specimens. It was achieved without the loss of a crew member. There were others on board who contributed to the biological work on the voyage, in addition to Dumont d'Urville, who was very knowledgeable, extremely hard working and an avid collector. Réne Primèvere Lesson (1794-1849), doctor and pharmacist on the Coquille, and M. Garnot were, with d'Urville, responsible for zoological collecting on the voyage. D'Urville's chief interest in that field was entomology. He was in charge of botanical collections and was assisted by Rene Lesson, who made drawings on the spot of plants too delicate to be preserved. Other scholarly crew members who assisted with scientific work on the voyage included ensigns Charles Hector Jacquinot (1796-1879) and Victor Charles Lottin (1795-1858). Although the Coquille was in New Zealand for only three weeks, d'Urville was much impressed with the country and keen to return and explore the whole coast.

The Coquille received a warm welcome on its return to France, and Charles X ordered that an account of the voyage be published on a lavish scale. This appeared in the form of eight volumes and a five-volume atlas of illustrations, as Voyage autour du monde, Exécuté par Ordre du Rot, Sur la Corvette de Sa Majesté, La Coquille, pendant les anees 1822, 1823, 1824 et 1823, under the general authority of Duperrey. The historical narrative of the voyage (Part historique) was incomplete and ended before the arrival in New Zealand. The botanical section (Botanique), under the general authorship of Dumont d'Urville, was published in two volumes. It included contributions from Adolphe Théodore Brongniart (1801-76), who has been described as the leading French taxonomist of the nineteenth century, and Baron Jean Baptiste Geneviève Marcellin Bory de Saint-Vincent (1778-1846), a geographer, explorer and naturalist. The first volume (Cryptogamie) described some lower plant groups (algae, lichens, lycopods and ferns) and the second (Phanérogamie), which was published in an incomplete form,

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Plate 10 Cyperus ustulatus (coastal sedge)

This member of the sedge or rush family is quite similar in appearance to the classical papyrus {Cyperus papyrus), the stems of which provided paper in ancient times. There are about 550 species of Cyperus, only one of which occurs in New Zealand. Cyperus ustulatus is found in lowland regions, near rivers and on moist ground, especially near the coast, throughout the North Island and parts of the South Island. It occurs too on the Kermadec, Chatham and Three Kings Islands. For some time Cyperus ustulatus was known as Mariscus ustulatus. This illustration is from the botanical atlas of Voyage de l'Astrolabe (1826-1829) and was drawn by Vauthier. The engraving was made by Madame Rebel.

The enlarged section at lower left shows part of an inflorescence of sedge flowers. Figure 2 shows a single flower with three stamens, each bearing terminal pollen sacs, and three central filamentous stigmas to which pollen adheres. Figure 3 shows the central female part of the flower, with three stigmas attached to a cylindrical style, which is attached at its base to the ovoid ovary. A single seed develops within each ovary.

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described seed plants. These volumes appeared between 1827 and 1834, at first in sixteen separate parts. The Atlas, which was published between the same dates, had two parts devoted to botany. The first illustrates lower plants and consists of forty plates (thirty-nine in some copies). Plates 1 to 24 (hand-coloured engravings) illustrate seaweeds (algae) and were drawn by Bory de Saint-Vincent. The other plates, by Pancrace Bessa (1772-1835), a botanical artist at the Jardin des Plantes, Paris, were uncoloured and included two New Zealand ferns that were described as new species in the text by Bory de Saint-Vincent. These were Polypodium eleagnifolium (now Pyrrosia serpens) and Lindsaea lessonii (now Lindsaea cuneata var. lessonii). It has been established that another fern, Grammitis scoplopendrina, described as a new species from New Zealand, was not in fact collected there. The second set of illustrations, covering seed plants, consisted of sixty-seven plates numbered from 1 to 78 with plates 55, 57, 58, 63, 65 to 67, 72 to 74, 76 not published. These too are superb engravings, uncoloured. Pancrace Bessa drew the first fifty plates, the others were by Joseph Decaisne (1807-82), a Belgian botanist attached to the National Paris Museum of Natural History. The only New Zealand plant to be described in the text, also illustrated in the Atlas, was Lampocarya affinis, a sedge that is now known as Morelotia affinis.

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Plate 10 Cyperus ustulatus A. Rich, (coastal sedge) M. Vauthier (in d'Urville's Voyage de VAstrolabe 1826-1829)

Plate 10 Cyperus ustulatus A. Rich, (coastal sedge) M. Vauthier (in d'Urville's Voyage de VAstrolabe 1826-1829)