Collecting localities



Biographical data


Brown, Robert


(Source: Flora Malesiana ser. 1, 1: Cyclopaedia of collectors)

(Source: Flora Malesiana ser. 1, 1: Cyclopaedia of collectors, Addenda & Corrigenda)

(Source: Flora Malesiana ser. 1, 5: Cyclopaedia of collectors, Supplement I)

(Source: Flora Malesiana ser. 1, 8: Cyclopaedia of collectors, Supplement II)


Born: 1773, Montrose, Scotland. Died: 1858, London, England.



Was destined for the medical profession. J. Banks proposed .for his acceptance the post of Naturalist in the expedition of Capt. Flinders in H.M.S. ‘Investigator’ (cf. also sub Ferd. Bauer and Peter Good). Half-way the expedition the ship had to be written off as lost; after shipwreck in the ‘Porpoise’, Flinders proceeded in the ‘Cumberland’. After his return in England in Oct. 1805, Brown was appointed Librarian of the Linnean Society (resigned 1820); at the close of 1810 Librarian to J. Banks who (in 1820) bequeathed to him his library and collections; in 1827 those were transferred to the British Museum and from this latter date Brown filled the office of Keeper of the Botanical Collections in the National Establishment.

He was the discoverer of the Brownian movement (1827) and the nucleus in cells (1831), and is the author of many important papers.1

He is commemorated in Eriocaulon brownianum Mart. and in the genus Brunonia Sm.


Collecting localities:7

Capt. Flinders’s Voyage in the ‘Investigator’ etc., 1801-03.2 Summer 1801 embarking at Portsmouth; via Madeira, Trinidad and the Cape of Good Hope,3 to Australia. Timor was visited twice, viz Apr. 1-7, 1803, and Nov. 10-14 of the same year; the latter time, during the return voyage from Australia to Mauritius. Flinders was kept for years in Mauritius and Brown too did not arrive at Liverpool before Oct. 1805. Brown and Bauer awaited Flinders’s return in Australia, and visited Timor only in April.



Timor (Koepang) plants in Herb. Brit. Mus. [BM]; dupl. in Herb. Leiden [L], Edinb. [E], Paris [P]; partly in Herb. Vienna [W] pres. by F. Bauer. A MS. list of the plants, with Latin and vernacular names, collected in Timor is in the Brit. Museum.

Brown bequeathed his private herbarium to J.J. Bennett, after whose death in 1876, the 1st set went to the Brit. Mus. [BM] (3900 species in total), the 2nd to Kew [K] and the 3rd to Edinburgh [E].4 Other dupl. in Herb. Decand. (Geneva [G]) (200 identified spp.), and Deless. (Geneva [G]); Paris [P]; Herb. Munich [M] (with Herb. Zuccarini); Herb. Turczaninow (= Kharkov [now probably LE]) (purch. 1861);5 Herb. Berl. [B] (from Australia); Herb. Bot. Gard. Petersb. (= Leningrad [LE]): 2055 nos from New Holland (pres. 1889); Herb. Sydney [NSW]: 24 spp. of plants coll. 1802-05 (pres. 1899); Herb. Melbourne [MEL]; Herb. Chicago (417 Austral. plants acq. 1903/04) [F]; Herb. Stockholm (from New Holland) [S]; Herb. Martius (= Brussels [BR]): Orch. et Gram. Austr.

In coll. Brown: 2 unpublished species of Argostemma from Penang and one from Timor;6 during Flinders’s voyage Penang was not touched at, however.

2 Vols of MS. descriptions of plants in Libr. Bot. Dept Brit. Mus.

His diary in the same library has no scientific value.

Extensive data on collecting localities in Australia, key to the letters and numbers used in the ‘Prodromus’, etc., are to be found in Stearn’s Introduction.1



(1) ’Robert Brown’s vermischte botanische Schriften’ (Schmalkalden, Nürnberg, 1825-34, 5 vols); ‘The miscellaneous botanical works of Robert Brown’ (London 1866-68, 2 vols atlas, publ. for the RAY Soc.).

These works include ‘Prodromus Florae Novae Hollandiae et insulae van Diemen’ (also published London 1810), and ‘General remarks geographical and systematical on the Botany of Terra Australis’ (ditto, London 1814, as Appendix 3 of Flinder’s Voyage etc. vol. 2, p. 533-613).

‘The Prodromus’ (1810) and ‘Supplementum primum’ (1830) were reprinted (facsimile 1960) with an Introduction by W.T. Stearn.

(2) M. Flinder: ‘A voyage to Terra Australis’ (London 1814, 2 vols w. app. + atlas, incl. 10 tab. bot.); transl. into Dutch, without appendices.

For particulars on the drawings see Cl. Nissen, ‘Die botanische Buchillustration’ 1951, vol. 2, p. 61 sub Flinders.

(3) cf. Journ. Linn. Soc. Bot. 45, 1920, p. 48-49.

(4) cf. Journ. Bot. 1876, p. 172 and l.c. 1877, p. 181.

(5) cf. Bot. Zeit. 19, 1861, p. 88.

(6) cf. Bennett & Brown, Plant. Jav. Rar., 1838, p. 94.

(7) For Australia see N.T. Burbidge: ‘R. Brown’s collecting localities’ (Proc. Linn. Soc. N.S.W. 80, 1956, p. 229-233).


biographical data:

La Belg. Hort. (ed. Morren) 7, 1858, p. i-xii, portr., bibliogr.; Proc. Roy. Soc. 1858, p. 527; Flora N.R. 17, 1859, p. 10-15, 25-31; Proc. Linn. Soc. 1859, (meet. May 24th) p. xxv-xxx; tomb cf. Bot. Zeit. 20, 1862, p. 216; Naughty jokes on him in a letter from J.E. Gray to Alph. Decandolle, dated April 21, 1873 (in Arch. Conserv. Bot. Geneva); Pritzel, Thes. Lit. Bot., 1872; Baillon, Dict. de Botanique 1, 1876; Biogr. Ind. Britten & Boulger in Journ. Bot. 26, 1888, p. 149, and in 2nd ed. by Rendle, 1931; J. Bot. 34, 1896, p. 26-28 (Memorial); Wittrock, Icon. Bot. Berg., 1903, p. 90; l.c. 2, 1905, p. 209; J.D. Milner, Catalogue portraits in Kew, 1906, p. 20; portr. in Journ. Bot. 44, 1906, ad p. 346; Oliver, Makers of Brit. Botany, 1913, p. 108-125, w. portr.; Australas. Herb. News 10, 1952, p. 6-7 (on contents of MSS); J. Reynolds Green, A History of Botany etc., 1914, p. 309-335; Proc. R. Soc. Queensl. 66, 1955, p. 6.; Austr. J. Sc. 21, 1958, p. 127-130; in W.T. Stearn, ‘Introduction to R. Brown Prodromus etc.’ (facs. 1960) p. v-lii, ports.