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

Botany of the Antarctic Voyage

Botany of the Antarctic Voyage

The botanical results of the voyage were published in Joseph Hooker's six-volume The Botany of the Antarctic Voyage. He worked on this at Kew, receiving pay as assistant surgeon (£136.10s. a year) and a grant of £1,000 from the Admiralty towards the cost of its publication. Publication was not completed until 1860. During this time Joseph had spent three and a half years in India. It has been stated that The Botany of the Antarctic Voyage benefited from this, for the important introductory essays to the various sections were improved by the additional knowledge of plant variation and distribution that Hooker gained on his Indian travels.

The first two-volume section, I. Flora Antarctica, described, in part one, the botany of Auckland and Campbell Islands. It included descriptions of sixty-three new species and six new genera, although five of these genera were subsequently (in Flora Novae-Zelandiae) included within earlier-described genera. There were eighty hand-coloured plates. Part two described the botany of Tierra del Fuego, Hermite Island and the Strait of Magellan, the Falklands and Kerguelen Island. This part also had descriptions of plants not collected by Hooker, including those that Darwin had collected. There were 118 plates.

The second two-volume section, II. Flora Novae-Zelandiae, consisted of part one, "Flowering Plants" (with seventy plates), and part two, "Flowerless Plants" (with sixty plates). In the first part 730 species of flowering plants and conifers were described (eighty-three of these were illustrated) and in the second part, 1,037 species of non-flowering plants (algae, fungi, mosses, liverworts, lichens and ferns).

The third two-volume section, III. Flora Tasmaniae, dealt with the plants of Tasmania. Part one consisted of dicotyledonous flowering plants (with 100 hand-coloured plates), and part two consisted of monocotyledonous and non-flowering plants (also with 100 plates). As with Flora Novae-Zelandiae, the flora of Tasmania was the first published flora of that country.

Flora Novae-Zelandiae was published in two versions with either coloured or uncoloured plates. It seems that other parts of The Botany of the Antarctic Voyage were published with only coloured plates.

As Joseph Hooker did field work in only a small part of New Zealand, much of this flora is based on collections by William Colenso, Andrew Sinclair, David Lyall, and in particular the Banks and Solander collections from Cook's first voyage. Flora Novae-Zelandiae was dedicated to Colenso, Lyall and Sinclair. Dr David Lyall (1817-95) was Joseph Hooker's coun- page 77 terpart on the Terror on Ross's expedition, being assistant surgeon and naturalist, and he assisted Hooker in collecting and pressing plants. He visited New Zealand again in 1847 as surgeon-naturalist on the Acheron expedition, led by Captain John Stokes. The purpose of that expedition was to complete Cook's coastal survey of Australia and New Zealand. Lyall was the first to botanise on Stewart Island. He discovered the Mt Cook "lily" — a very attractive, white-flowered buttercup, Ranunculus lyallii, which has circular leaves up to thirty centimetres in diameter, and which Hooker named after him. Dr Andrew Sinclair (1796-1861), a surgeon in the Royal Navy, was in the Bay of Islands for part of the time that Joseph Hooker was there and collected with him for a while. In 1844 he was appointed New Zealand Colonial Secretary under Governor Fitzroy and devoted much of his spare time to collecting plants for Hooker. He retired to England but in 1858 returned to New Zealand, largely, it seems, to gather more material for Hooker's forthcoming Handbook of the New Zealand Flora (1864, 1867). In 1861 he drowned while crossing the Rangitata River on an expedition in the Southern Alps, led by the geologist Sir Julius von Haast.

The Botany of the Antarctic Voyage contains meticulous, full Latin descriptions of each plant and extremely good and extensive critical taxonomic notes in English. Joseph Hooker received assistance from a number of specialists when working on the lower plants (algae, fungi, lichens, mosses and liverworts), and these people are co-authors of parts of The Botany of the Antarctic Voyage.

The plates were done by Walter Fitch, who "worked up" Hooker's original drawings and paintings made in the field or on the Erebus. These are now at Kew. Some plants were drawn by Fitch from dried specimens only and were not based on any preliminary sketch by Hooker. Joseph was a very competent artist, though not perhaps the equal of his father.