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Robert McKenzie Cross: Botanical Explorer, Kew Gardens

Robert Cross's Report on his travel to South America in 1860
Home | Forgotten Legend : Tribute to Robert Cross- Sample | Further Reading : Some Books, Journals and Web Sites | Early Life in Kilmaronock Loch Lomondside 1830s and 1840s | While Robert entered Kew Gardens, London 1850s his siblings flew the nest too! | Chronology : The Years Robert Cross spent at Home and Abroad | Chinchona Missions : First Trip to South America 1859 | Robert Cross's Report on his travel to South America in 1860 | Spruce's Journal First Chinchona Mission | Chinchona : Later Trips to South America | Rubber Trees : Mission to South America 1876 | Para Rubber Images | Clements Markham, Richard Spruce and Henry Wickham | Achievements of Robert Cross | Publications of Robert M Cross | Last Years at West Cottage Torrance of Campsie | Last Will and Testament of Robert McKenzie Cross

Cross goes to South America!!

Spruce had told Markham not to send Cross out until after the rains were gone, from around May, 1860 .

CROSS LEAVES ENGLAND

Robert Cross left Southampton on 17 April 1860, on the steamship Atrato reached Colon on the Isthmus of Darien and then went on to Panama. He left Panama on 9 May 1860 and reached Guayaquil on the evening of the 13 May. Cross was
unable to continue his journey up river until 12 July 1860.

Fever strikes!!!

During that period Cross fell very ill, from fever, this was his first experience of a tropical climate. He refers to keeping a check using his own barometer on humidity and the temperature never falling below 82F. But other dangers in the shape of war soldiers and alligators lay ahead of him......


Final leg of Journey

On 12 July Cross finally left Guayaquil on board a ship commissioned by soldiers to take men and war supplies
up river. Cross writes .... the steamer left Guayaquil ..amid the dissonant cries of soldiers and populace ....

1860-1

Articles in Gardeners Chronicle on Peru by Robert Cross


As well as describing the Plants of Peru in two articles in Gardeners Chronicle of 1861 Cross's descriptive powers were in full bloom along on the river bank :


Ahoy Alligators!!!!


....the banks of the river for about 20 miles above Guayaquil are one mass of soft mud, on which, however, may be seen assembled great numbers of hideous looking alligators. In some places I have counted as many as 52 of the full grown brutes grouped together, and presenting the appearance of so many logs of wood which had been left by the ebb tide on the muddy banks of the river. During this year great numbers of alligators had died of some disease, and the stench arising from their carcases which were lying about here and there in pools of mud, exposed to the full rays of the sun was almost intolerable.


Spruce's waiting game.....


He refers to Cross's journey as follows :

....Mr Cross has had all sorts of obstacles thrown in his way by the forces that held the river and with the greatest difficulty had found men to row his canoes, so that the distance from Guayaquil to VENTANAS ( which appears so short on the map ) had taken 13 days to travel. He reached Limon on the 27 July 1860, looking pale and thin from his recent illness, and from the sleepless nights passed on the river, but he was anxious to set to work immediately ....


Chinchona ( or Cinchona ) : genus of tropical evergreen trees and shrubs of the madder family, yielding the medicinal bark variously known as Peruvian bark, Jesuits' bark, China bark, or cinchona bark, from which the drug quinine and related substances are obtained. All the chinchonas have laurel-like, entire, opposite leaves; stipules that soon fall off;and panicles of flowers that somewhat resemble those of the lilac. The flowers are white, rose or purplish and very fragrant. After introduction into India and the East indies, it was widely cultivated there, particularly on Java. Today, the bark is peeled from the tree and dried, and the final extraction of quinine alkaloids is done in factories.

From Encarta Learning Zone

WILLIAM CROSS IS AVAILABLE TO GIVE A TALK TO YOUR GROUP, SOCIETY, ORGANISATION ON THE LIFE AND WORK ON ROBERT CROSS.

CONTACT ADDRESS 58 SUTTON ROAD, NEWPORT, GWENT, S WALES, UK NP19 7JF

e-mail williecross@aol.com

Robert McKenzie Cross of Kew Gardens