Collecting localities



Biographical data

Photo gallery


Forbes, Henry Ogg


(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: 1851, Drumblade, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Died: 1932, Selsey, E of Portsmouth, England.



Had to discontinue his study in medicine on account of the loss of one of his eyes; from then he applied himself to botany and ethnology. He made extensive travels in the Malay region from 1878 onwards, from April 1882-83 in company of his wife Annabella Keith Forbes ( ? , Rubislaw, Aberdeenshire, Scotland; 1922, ? ).1 Mid-1886 he was appointed Deputy Commissioner in Brit. New Guinea, stationed at Samarai; he resigned in March 1887, hoping to secure funds for new exploration tours. When his efforts were in vain, he was offered a job as Meteorologist at Port Moresby by the Special Commissioner John Douglas; at the end of September he was instructed to explore the Goldie River. At the end of February 1888 he returned to England; Director of the Canterbury Museum in New-Zealand, 1890-93; Director of the Liverpool Musea, 1894-1911, and since 1905 University Lecturer in Ethnology at Edinburgh, Scotland.

Several plants were named after him and his wife.


Collecting localities:2












W. Java: arrival at Batavia (Nov. 17, 1878), Buitenzorg; Cocos and Keeling Isls (Indian Ocean) (Jan.-Febr. 9, 1879); W. Java:3 at Batavia (Febr. 16); Bantam Res. (at Genteng, Tjipanas, Kosala Estate); via Buitenzorg, Megamendung Pass (= Poentjak) to Priangan Res.: Bando(e)ng, Pengalengan, vicinity of G. Malabar and G. Wajang; in the first half of May returning to Buitenzorg and Batavia.-Probably May 18, 1880 (in the cited book erroneously Nov.!) to S. Sumatra, Lampong Districts: Gedong Tetahan, Kotta Djawa, Gunung Trang; mid-Aug. to Penanggungan near G. Tanggamus, Terratas, ascent of G. Tanggamus, Penanggungan, Telok Betong; back to Batavia, shipping off his collections mid-Dec. At the end of Dec. 1880 crossing Sunda Strait from Anjer to S. Sumatra (Lampongs and Palembang) again: Telok Betong, Beneawang, along the W. Semangka, Kenali, Hudjung (till end of Jan. 1881), Sukau, Ranau Lake (Banding Agong); Muara Dua, Gunungmegang, Darmo, Muara Enim, Lahat, Passumah Plateau, Pau on the slope of G. Dempo, ascent of G. Dempo; from Pau (at the end of May) to Pageralam, Gunungmeraksa, Lampar, Batu Pandjeh, Tebingtinggi, Tandjong Ring on the Saling, Kepala Tjaruk (= ? Kapalatjoeroep) and ascent of G. Kaba; along S. Klingi in northern direction, S. Rupit, Muararupit (end Oct.), Surulangun, S. Rawas, Pulaukida, Muara Mengkulem, Napallitjin, limestone hill Karang Nata, back at Muara Mengkulem (Nov. 27), Binginteluk on the Rawas, Pau (= Paoeh), downstream the Musi to Palembang (Dec. 20); sailing for Batavia (25) via Muntok (Banda).-W Java: Buitenzorg (Dec. 27, 1881-Apr. 14, 1882).-To the Moluccas etc., 1882-83, with aid of the D.E.I. Govt: sailing from Batavia (Apr. 15, 1882), via Makassar (SW. Celebes), Sumbawa (Bima), Flores (Larantuka), Timor (Kupang and Dilly), Bandaneira, to Ambon (staying May 12-July 4, visiting Paso, Leitimor, Tengah-Tengah, Wai); via Saparua, Bandaneira, Ges(s)ir (on Ceramlaoet), New Guinea, Kai and Ara Isls to Timor-laut (= Tanimbar Isls) (staying July 13-Sept. 28):4 P. Larat and Jamdena; Ambon (Oct. 7-Nov. 7); Buru (Nov. 8-Dec. 11): Kajeli, Lake Wakolo; Ambon (Dec. 12-14); via Bandaneira; Port. Timor (Dec. 19, 1882-May 31, 1883): staying above Dilly, Fatunaba; breaking up (March 30) for a trip to the interior, Erlura, Komai River, Fatete (31), Ligidoik (Apr. 1), Sauo (2), Turskain (3-6), Bibiçuçu (6-22), G. Tahaolat, S of the Kaimauk River, Serarata Valley, Saluki (22-26), Fatuboi, Samoro (Apr. 28-May 3), G. Sobale (not reaching the summit), Buarahu River, Manuleo, Sumasse River, Laclo (May 5), Metinaru, Dilly; back to Fatunaba; sailing from Timor (June 1), via Banda, Ambon, Manado (N. Celebes, June 10), Makassar (SW. Celebes), Ampenan (Lombok), Boeleleng (Bali) to Java: S(o)urabaya (June 23), Batavia (28); July 9 homeward bound.-SE. New Guinea. 1885-86. From several societies, e.g. the Roy. Soc. of Queensland, he got financial aid for an intended exploration of Owen Stanley Range.5 Arrival at Batavia (May 8, 1885); to Ambon for the required hunters; Batavia (June 29-July 12); Queensland; Papua: Port Moresby (Aug. 29-Sept. 24); from Port Moresby (Sept. 25) setting out to Sogeri Distr.; bivouac at Saminumu, as he supposed the rainy season to set in; Nov. 7 he was visited by the Special Commissioner, abandoned everything and accompanied the latter to Port Moresby and subsequently to the NE. coast of New Guinea;6 back at Port Moresby (Dec. 8); back to Sogeri, awaiting the dry season for the intended ascent of Owen Stanley Range; by the endless dragging on, he ran out of money and when the Special Commissioner declared the ascent to be impossible at that time, Forbes decided to make a trip in northern direction: setting out (Dec. 12) in company with Chalmers (see there), via Richardson Ridge to the Baccari River and climbing Justice Fry Ridge in northern direction to the village Kaukari; on account of the disappearance of the guides, forced to return to Sogeri; some excursions in eastern and southern direction; Port Moresby, and sailing (May 3, 1886) to Cooktown.-1887. Exploration of the Goldie River:7 setting out from Port Moresby (Oct. 1), Goldie River, Mt Wallaby, Annabel Range, Mt Bowdler Sharpe; Savage Club Range, Mt Archer, Mt Ginianumu; the coolies refused to proceed further and F. was forced to return (Oct. 30); back at Port Moresby (Nov. 5).



Herb. Brit. Mus. [BM]: 1st set, 4654 nos (pres. 1879-88); Herb. Berl. [B]: 2200 nos (coll. 1880-83) + Brit. N.G. coll.; Herb. Edinburgh [E]: Sumatra plants; Herb. Calcutta [CAL] (pres. 1879-87); Herb. Kew [K]: 489 nos (pres. 1881-87); Herb. Bog. [BO]: from Java, Sumatra, (pres. 1881), Tanimbar Isls (320 nos)8 and some New Guinea dupl.; Herb. Bot. Inst. Fac. Sci. Lisbon [LISU]; Herb. Melbourne [MEL], Herb. Leiden [L] (5th set, 1350 specim. purch. 1884), 461 New Guinea plants (purch. 1888); Singapore [SING], Decand. (Geneva [G]), Florence [FI], N. Y. Bot. Gard. [NY], Paris [P] (N.G. dupl.); Herb. Bot. Gard. St Petersb. (= Leningrad [LE]): 2 Java + 2 Sumatra plants and New Guinea dupl.; Gray Herb. (Cambr., Mass. [GH]). The duplicates in Herb. Lisbon [LISU] consist of 157 nos (incl. 8 crypt.), collected in 1882-83, evidently from Port. Timor; several dupl. in Herb. Ac. Sc. Leningrad [LE].

His numbers run as follows: 1-137 (Bantam, W. Java), 138-166 (Cocos Islands, Indian Ocean), 167-602 (Kosala, Bantam, W. Java), 603-1441 (W. Java, by error marked SE. Java), 1442-1897 (S. Sumatra), 1898-2161 (S. Sumatra, Blalau region), 2162-2699 (S. Sumatra, Pasumah Lands), 2700-2911 (S. Sumatra, Musi region), 2912-3256 (S. Sumatra, Upper Musi region), 3257-3320 (Moluccas, Amboina), 3321-3419 (Timor Laut Is. = Tanimbar Is.), 3420-4159 (Timor, Lesser Sunda Is.); 1-955 (Papua).

26 Original drawings of Sumatran and Javan plants in the Library Bot. Dept Brit. Museum.

Evidently by some mistake many of his Java plants were labelled ‘South East Java’, whereas he only visited the western part.

During the New Guinea expedition 1885-86, he was assisted by mantri Arsin (see there) of the Buitenzorg Herbarium and apparently by the plant collector G.G. Andersson too.

The Timor-laut (= Tanimbar) collections were partly destroyed by fire in the drying-room in situ; F. was forced to leave behind part of the Boeroe collections owing to the machinations of Mr Riedel (see there).

Several papers were based on his collections.9 

In Hort. Bog.: Amorphophallus from Palembang, S. Sumatra (pres. 1881).



(1) A. Forbes: ‘Experiences of a naturalist’’ s wife in the Eastern Archipelago’ (London 1887); ‘Reizen in den Indischen Archipel’ (Tijdschr. Ned. Ind. 171, 1888, p. 161-197, 241-282, 365-388).

(2) H.O. Forbes: ‘A naturalist’s wanderings in the Eastern Archipelago. A narrative of travel and exploration from 1878-1883’ (London 1885); transl. into German: ‘Wanderungen eines Naturforschers im Malayischen Archipel von 1878 bis 1883’’  (Jena 1886).

(3) H.O. Forbes: ‘Notes from Java’ (extr. from a letter in Nature 22, 1880, p. 148).

(4) H.O. Forbes: ‘Three months exploration in the Tenimber Islands, or Timor Laut’ (Proc. Roy. Geogr. Soc. Lond. N.S. 6, 1884, p. 113-129).

Riedel points to several mistakes made by Forbes in the description of Timor-laut in Tijdschr. K.N.A.G. 1884, p. 721-725.

(5) cf. ‘On attempts to reach the Owen Stanley Peak’ (Scott. Geogr. Magaz. Edinb. 1, 1885, p. 401-415); cf. also l.c. p. 138-144.

(6) cf. ‘Mittheilungen über die Nordostküste von Neu Guinea’ (Nachr. Kais. Wilh. Land 2, 1886, p. 98 seq.).

(7) cf. Ausland 59, 1886, p. 139, 569-572, 879; ‘Attempted ascent of Mt Owen Stanley’ (Scott. Geogr. Magaz. Edinb. 4, 1888, p. 138-144).

(8) cf. Versl. Pl. Tuin Buitenzorg for 1883, p. 13.

(9) ‘List of plants from Timor-laut’ (in ‘A naturalist’s Wanderings etc. l.c. p. 354-355); ‘Prodromus florae timorensis’ (in l.c. Appendix, p. 497-523). Both compiled in the Brit. Mus.

Th. Dyer: ‘Report on the botany of Mr. Forbes expedition to Timor-Laut’ (Journ. Linn. Soc. Bot. 21, 1885, p. 370-374).

cf. also in W.B. Hemsley, Report of the Challenger etc., vol. 1, pt 3, p. 101-226.

F. von Mueller: Vacciniaceae in Journ. Bot. 24, 1886, p. 321 (New Guinea); cf. also Viet. Naturalist 3, 1886, p. 45-52, 63-64, 71-72.

H.N. Ridley: ‘On the monocotyledonous plants of New Guinea collected by Dr. H.O. Forbes (Journ. Bot. 24, 1886, p. 321-327, 353-360).

G. King: ‘On some new species of Ficus from New Guinea’ (Journ. As. Soc. Bengal 55, 1887, p. 394-412).

H.O. Forbes: ‘On a new species of Boea from New Guinea’ (Journ. Bot. 25, 1887, p. 347-348).

H.O. Forbes: ‘A new fern from New Guinea’ (Journ. Bot. 26, 1888, p. 33, pl. 280).

G. King: ‘Some new species of Ficus from New Guinea’ (Ann. Roy. Bot. Gard. Cale. 1, App. 1, 1888, p. 1-9, pl. 226-232).

F. von Mueller in Austr. Journ. Pharm., Jan. 1887; Descr. Not. Pap. Pl. 9, 1890 (from Sogeri, Owen Stanley Range, E. New Guinea).

R.A. Rolfe: ‘A morphological and systematic review of the Apostasieae’ (Journ. Linn. Soc. Bot. Lond. 29, 1890, p. 5-6).

F. Kränzlin: ‘Orchidaceae Papuanae’ (Oesterr. Bot. Zeitschr. 44, 1894, p. 163).

O. Warburg: Some Sumatra plants in ‘Monsunia’ (1900).

SP. LE M. MOORE : new species in Journ. Bot. 52, 1914, p. 289-296.

H.F. WERNHAM: Rubiaceae of New Guinea in Journ. Bot. 56, 1918, p. 68-77, 129-135.

Sp. le M. Moore: ‘Acanthaceae Papuanae’ (Journ. Bot. 58, 1920, p. 79-80).

By the staff of the Brit. Mus.: ‘Dr. H.O. Forbes’ New Guinea plants’ (Journ. Bot. 61, 1923, p. 53-55 and Suppl. p. 1-64); ‘Dr. H.O. Forbes’ Malayan plants’ (l.c. 62, 1924, Suppl. p. 1-48; l.c. 63, 1925, Suppl. p. 49-136; (l.c. 64, 1926, Suppl. p. 137-149).


biographical data:

Journ. Bot. 71, 1933, p. 74 (herein the 2nd attempt to reach Owen Stanley Range erroneously mentioned for 1889!); Ibid, ser. 13, vol. 3, 1933, p. 135-136; Backer, Verkl. Woordenb., 1936 (for Mrs Forbes see sub annabellae).


photo gallery: