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Richard Spruce Collection

Making historic collection data from the Amazon available online
Photograph of Richard Spruce, who travelled and collected plants in the Amazon

The plant specimens and other objects collected by Richard Spruce during the nineteenth century constitute an important botanical, historical and ethnological resource. Spruce spent approximately 15 years exploring South America, from the Amazon to the Andes, and was one of the first Europeans to visit many of the places in which he collected.

The Richard Spruce project was a joint initiative between RBG Kew and The Natural History Museum. The project comprised specimen location and databasing, specimen imaging, transcription and imaging of Spruce's original notebooks and the construction of a website. Over 6,000 specimens have been completely databased and imaged, and are available at

Ongoing work

The Kew Compositae specimens, which form a significant percentage of Spruce’s collection, were never completely scanned during the initial phase of this project. Dr Hind is currently determining this material with the aim of providing current names for all Spruce’s Compositae and highlighting the numerous type specimens represented amongst the collections. These will be digitized and made available online, complementing the existing resource.

Project partners and collaborators

UKNatural History Museum, London

Project funders


Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Project Department