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

A six-month stay in the Falklands, some excursions, and the four-month homeward voyage

A six-month stay in the Falklands, some excursions, and the four-month homeward voyage

The ships were soon hauled ashore for repairs. Intensive botanising on the Falklands yielded only some 100 species of flowering plants for Joseph. Seeds of a tussock grass he collected and sent to Kew later proved useful, as the grass was successfully introduced to the Shetland Islands for animal fodder. The Erebus and Terror visited Hermite Island, part of Tierra del Fuego, near Cape Horn, which Joseph was particularly interested in seeing, for Charles Darwin had been there on the Beagle. Joseph met Darwin not long before the Antarctic voyage began and had a copy of his Journal of Researches into the Geology and Natural History of the Various Countries Visited by H.M.S. Beagle, which he often referred to, on board. The two men subsequently became life-long friends. Darwin's surviving letters to Hooker, when typed out, run to over 800 pages. After the voyage, Joseph had been fully informed of Darwin's ideas on evolution and natural selection and had faithfully kept them secret many years before the publication in 1859 of The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.

Hermite Island proved to be richer in mosses than any comparably sized region Joseph ever visited, and he collected more than 100 different species. Tierra del Fuego had an interesting flora, with some flowering plants very similar to English ones and many lichens identical to those found in Britain. This region seemed to him the "great botanical centre of the Antarctic Ocean", and many of his ideas on geographical plant distribution and dispersal were fostered by this visit. In December 1842 they left the page 76 Falklands and headed south once more. The ships narrowly escaped being frozen in the ice. Joseph Hooker found on one of the Antarctic islands a lichen, which he found again high in the Himalayas. James Ross was able to confirm that there was only one South Magnetic Pole, and by April 1843 the ships had reached the Cape of Good Hope. In September the voyage was over.