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Robert McKenzie Cross: Botanical Explorer, Kew Gardens

Spruce's Journal First Chinchona Mission
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

Richard Spruce 1817-1893



Born 10 September 1817 at Ganthorpe in the North Riding of Yorkshire. He died at Coneysthorpe 28 Decemebr 1893 and is buried in the Churchyard at Terrington nearby. The memorial reads



RICHARD SPRUCE

TRAVELLER AND AUTHOR OF MANY BOTANTICAL WORKS



From Spruce's Journals :-

REPORTS ON FIRST CHINCHONA TRIP

SPRUCE'S MISSION

1860-61

Spruce wrote a detailed report extracts below:-


Clements Markham wrote :

...After the arrival of Mr Cross at Limon the work of collecting commenced in earnest. A piece of ground was fenced in and Mr Cross made a pit and prepared the soil to receive cuttings of which he put in about 1000 on the 1 August ( 1860 )and following days and he afterwards went round to all the old stools and put in as many layers from them as possible.

In September Mr Spruce went across the valley of the San Antonio to secure additional seeds leaving Mr Cross to watch over the rooting of the cuttings at Limon

The Raft used for transporting the plants etc.....

The raft was got by Spruce. It was composed of 12 trucks of raft wood, 63 to 66 feet long and 1 foot in diameter, kept in their places by shorter pieces tied transversely and covered with bamboo planking, fenced round with rails. To a height of 3 feet and roofed over.

The Wardian cases were got ready on a raft at Ventanas and Mr Cross arrived with the plants from Limon on 13 December ( 1860 ) and established them in the cases to the number of 637.

1860-61
Dangers galore!!!!!

After encountering several dangers and mishaps in navigating the river, the raft with its precious freight reached Guayaquil on the 27 December and the plants were safely embarked on board the steamer in charge of Mr Cross on 2 January 1861.

Spruce records :

..only those who have attempted to do anything in the forest, possessing scarcely any of the necessary appliances can have any idea of the difficulties and Mr Cross's unremitting watchfulness alone enabled him to surmount them....

Another version of this phase of the mission comes from George King, Superintendent of the Royal Botanical Garden Calcutta

...Spruce set up headquarters at Limon. In July 1860 or nearly a year after his first start. Spruce was joined at Limon by Cross. Spruce had been seriously ill for a great deal of the time in that year. Cross established a nursery at Limon and there put in a number of cuttings of the Red bark tree. He attended to those while Spruce searched for seeds. After spending about 5 months at Limon Cross conveyed his rooted cuttings to the port of Guayaquil and thanks to his skill and excellent management ultimately succeeded in taking them safely to India by the same route.

After depositing the red bark plants in the Nilgiris early in 1861 Mr Cross returned to South America .....

1860-1 It had not been easy or plain sailing :-

Difficulties experienced by Cross in caring for the plants

According to Spruce :-

The scorching rays of the sun
The sustained heat and drought
The plantation had no fence and there were cattle roaming
about
Attacks of caterpillers just after cuttings began to
root

They also badly suffered from mules being taken away at night...by natives....

And soldiers of course! There was a civil war going on around them!!!!!

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

CONTACT HIM AT

e-mail

williecross@aol.com

Robert McKenzie Cross of Kew Gardens