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Image number: RS.10926
Credit: © The Royal Society

Root of a fig tree


October 1850


Richard Spruce (1817-1893, British), Explorer

Object type

Archive reference number



height (drawing): 255mm
width (drawing): 203mm


   > Botany

Content object

   > plant


Sketch of a fig root twined around a silk cotton (Samaumá) tree trunk.

Annotated by Spruce ‘Half size. No. 5. ½ scale 633 h. Paraná-mirí dos Ramos. A channel of the Amazon, leading to the Rio dos Manés. Oct. 1850. (The roots embracing the trunk are those of a fig). There were a vast many more twiners, which the voracious mosquitos did not allow me to sketch.) R.S.’.

Reproduced as Figure 8 in Notes of a botanist on the Amazon & Andes: being records of travel on the Amazon and its tributaries, the Trombetas, Rio Negro, Uaupés, Casiquiari, Pacimoni, Huallaga, and Pastasa; as also to the cataracts of the Orinoco, along the eastern side of the Andes of Peru and Ecuador, and the shores of the Pacific, during the years 1849-1864 edited by Alfred Russel Wallace (volume I, London, 1908).

In the aforementioned work Spruce describes these trees as being very suitable for being hollowed out into cuchas or floating casks which, being filled with turtle oil or capivi on the Upper Amazon and securely caulked, are floated down to the Barra do Rio Negro or Para.

Object history

Spruce spent 15 years exploring the Amazon from the Andes to its mouth, collecting plants on behalf of botanists including Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker FRS and George Bentham FRS. He was one of the first Europeans to visit many of the places from which he collected. Spruce was not a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Associated place