"Lost" plant collections from the Amazon 1: the 1899 expedition of Dr. Luigi Buscalioni

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A truly forgotten Amazonian botanical collection was that made by Dr. Luigi Buscalioni (1863–1954), whose 1899 expedition to southeastern Amazonia and particularly the edaphic savannas and transitions to drier savanna woodlands of the Brazilian Planalto at the southeastern edge of Amazonia—part of it still a botanical frontier—produced some 5,000 collections of plants and fungi. He traveled up the Tocantins and Araguaia rivers, penetrating into what are now the states of Tocantins and Goiás. Buscalioni's was a relatively early expedition for Amazonia: only six substantial collections (>1,000 numbers) are known to have been made prior to 1900 in all of Brazilian Amazonia. Moreover, the upper Rio Tocantins and the Rio Araguaia remain poorly known botanically, so his collection undoubtedly contains much valuable information about the original flora of that region. This information unfortunately has been unavailable, however, because most of the collection languished in bundles at the RO herbarium for the best part of a hundred years, from the turn of the century until 1984, when the junior author discovered their existence during a re-organization of the RO herbarium, and 1995, when a visit by the senior author coincided with the recovery of revealing historical archives. The label information and preliminary taxonomy have now been data-based and are available over the Internet. In addition to his collections, Buscalioni's Amazonian legacy includes participation in debates about the origins of myrmecophily and the Amazonian savannas, the botanical identity of the commercial latex called caucho, and (indirectly) the founding of the INPA research institute in Manaus, Brazil. His scientific reputation and especially his efforts to found an international institute for Amazon plant research in Brazil brought him into dialogue with the great botanists of the day.


Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Systematic Botany, New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, NY 10458-5126, U.S.A. 2: Museo Erbario, Dipartimento di Biologia Vegetale, Università degli Studi di Roma "La Sapienza", Piazzale A. Moro 5, 00185 Roma, Italy

Publication date: February 1, 2007

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