Dombeya wallichii, by Bob Mitchell – Part 2 of 3


Dombeya is named for Joseph Dombey (1742-1794), the French medical doctor, botanist and explorer.  His travels were principally to South America.  The French expedition to Peru in 1777-1778 was in search of plants suitable for French gardens and, with the approval of King Charles 111, the Spanish botanists Jose Antonio Pavon (1754-1844) and Hipolito Ruiz (1754-1815), were invited to join and search for new sources of spices and quinine for Spain.  Dombey accumulated a large herbarium and many plants new to science, but his collections were plagued by incidents.  The British captured the ship carrying his first consignment and were given to the British Museum.

On his second expedition the illustrations of Peruvian plants were not allowed to leave the country and were given to the Spanish botanists Pavon and Ruiz who used them when writing the Flora of Peru.  The plants on his return were seized by the Spanish authorities, dying in the customs house in Cadiz.  This highly important South American herbarium is thus shared between Britain, France and Spain.  The ownership of the specimens raged for several years and was called the Dombey Affair.


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