Allan Cunningham (1791-1839)
Allan Cunningham was one of many collectors sent out on expeditions
by Joseph Banks. His primary hunting grounds were in Australia.
Plant collecting in Australia was dangerous. The main difficulty
was not the rough terrain, but the heat and lack of water.
Horses quickly became exhausted, some dying of dehydration,
and the situation was not made any easier by the eerily invisible,
yet ever-present Aborigines with whom he had many confused
encounters. These unpredictable meetings could result in
trade or theft, but increasingly, in hostile ambushes. Spears,
stones and boomerangs often came hurtling out of the bush without
Homesick after 15 years abroad, Cunningham returned triumphant
to England in 1831 with 70 crates of living material. Like
many collectors returning from an intrepid lifestyle Cunningham
could not settle once back in England, and in spite of his
brother having been killed by Aborigines, Cunningham returned
to Australia for good to continue his botanical work.
Cunningham collected many species of Eucalyptus, Acacia, Pittosporum,
and, of particular current interest, the Moreton Bay Chestnut
australe), the seeds of which are under investigation as
Alania from the Blue Mountains of southeast Australia is
named in his honour.
to: George Bentham