Collecting localities



Biographical data


Cunningham, Allan


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


Born: 1791, Wimbledon, Surrey, England. Died: 1839, Sydney, Australia.



Clerk of Mr W.T. Aiton; recommended by Sir Joseph Banks, he was appointed Botanical Collector of Kew Gardens in 1814 and in October of that year he sailed for Brazil in company with James Bowie in H.M.S. ‘Duncan’; in 1816 he received orders to proceed to New South Wales and early in 1817 he joined Oxley’s Australian expedition for exploring the Lachlan and Macquarie rivers;1 subsequently he was attached to Capt. King’s expedition for surveying the coast of Australia and visited various parts of the east and west coast and Tasmania, and paid some visits to Timor. About 1822 he set up for himself (New Zealand in 1826), and returned to England in 1831, but left again in 1836 to fill the post of Colonial Botanist and Superintendent of the Sydney Bot. Garden, vacant through the death of his brother Richard; he soon resigned.2 In 1838 he travelled over New Zealand once more, returning with a broken health.

The genera Cunninghamia R.Br. and Alania Endl. were named in his honour, and so were many plant species.


Collecting localities:

During King’s West Coast voyages in the ‘Mermaid’2 some visits were paid to the Lesser Sunda Islands, viz to Timor (Coepang and environs; June 4-13, 1818), and in the next year landing in Savu (= Sawoe Island) (Oct. 24, 1819) and in Timor (Nov. 1-9, 1819).



His private Herbarium (incl. material of above-mentioned expedition) at Kew [K].3 Herb. Brit. Mus. [BM]: Coll. Brazil (with Herb. Banks), Austr. pl. (incl. Timor) from 1818-26 (pres. by W.T. Aiton, Kew); Herb. Linn. Soc. Lond. [LINN]; Herb. Decand. (691) and Deless. (Geneva [G]); Herb. Munich [M]; Herb. Martius (Brussels [BR]) (215); Herb. Vienna [W]: 526 Austr. pl.; Herb. Sing. [SING]; Herb. Cambridge [CGE] (with Herb. Lemann); Herb. Leiden [L] (Timor). The collection from Timor consists of few numbers, from Nov. 1-9, 1819, the numbers 513-531 were collected.

Besides MSS at Kew,3 MSS and Journal in the Library of the Brit. Mus.; Journal and Field books preserved at Sydney.



(1) J. Oxley: ‘Journal of two expeditions into the Interior of New South Wales in 1817-18’ (London 1820).

(2) P.P. King: ‘Narrative of a survey of the intertropical and western coasts of Australia. Performed between the years 1818 and 1822’ (London 1827, 2 vols incl. Appendix on Nat. Hist. etc., no botany). In this book a chapter is written by A. Cunningham: ‘A few general remarks on the vegetation of certain coasts of Terra australis and more especially of its north-western shores’ (l.c. vol. 2, p. 497-533).

J.H. Maiden & R.H. Cambag: ‘Botanical, topographical and geological notes on some routes of Allan Cunningham (Journ. & Proc. Roy. Soc. N.S.W. 43, 1909, p. 123-139, pl. 5-7; not dealing with Timor).

I. Lee: ‘Early explorers in Australia’ (London 1925); herein the full extracts of C.’s Journal.

(3) cf. Kew Bull. 1891, p. 309-310.


biographical data:

Hook. Journ. Bot. 4, 1842, p. 231-320 + portr.; Hook. Lond. Journ. Bot. 1, 1842, p. 107-128, 263-292 and l.c. 5, 1846, p. 661-662 + pl.; Pritzel, Thes. Lit. Bot., 1872; Gard. Chron. 18812, p. 440; Biogr. Index Britten & Boulger in Journ. Bot. 26, 1888, p. 247, and 2nd ed. by Rendle, 1931; J.D. Milner, Catalogue portraits at Kew, 1906, p. 31; Journ. & Proc. Linn. Soc. N.S.W. 42, 1908, p. 99; portr. in I. Lee, Early explorers etc., l.c. above sub 2, opposite p. 167; Backer, Verkl. Woordenb., 1936.