FEATURING - Mr. Masson's Botanical Travels by Francis Masson

Posted on September 21, 2020

The Special Collections Book of the Week this week is:

Mr. Masson's Botanical Travels by Francis Masson.

An account of three journeys from Cape Town into the southern parts of Africa, undertaken for the discovery of new plants, towards the improvement of the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew.

Francis Masson, gardener, botanical collector and traveller, was employed as an under-gardener at the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew. He was sent to the Cape Colony to collect seeds and plants for Kew - the first such venture to be undertaken by that institution. He sailed with Captain James Cook and arrived in Table Bay on 30 October 1772. During the next two and a half years, he undertook three long journeys into the interior, returning to England in early 1775. The more than 400 new species of plants he brought back helped to make Kew Gardens one of the world's leading botanical gardens.

This was the first account of substantial travels into the interior of southern Africa in the English language. Although his journeys were not new explorations, his descriptions of some areas were the first to be properly recorded. Among others, he provided the first descriptions of the hot springs near Clanwilliam and Uniondale, as well as the Zwartkops saltpan near Algoa Bay.

UPSpace Access: http://hdl.handle.net/2263/12687

This book is available at Special Collections, housed on level 5 of the Merensky 2 Library, and is part of our Du Plessis (ZPA) Collection.

The Special Collections unit of the Department of Library Services plays a stewardship role in the acquisition and preservation of the Library's rare and valuable information resources, making them accessible to students, staff and researchers, as well as safeguarding them for future generations.

- Author Nikki Haw

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