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David Douglas


1799 - 1834

Adventurous botanist. Douglas was born in Scone (Perth and Kinross), the son of a stone-mason. He began working as a boy at Scone Palace and then moved to Valleyfield in Fife, working for the Preston family. He was appointed an apprentice gardener in Glasgow Botanic Garden where he came to the attention of the English botanist Sir William Hooker (1785 - 1865), who recommended Douglas as a plant-hunter. Douglas undertook a number of expeditions on behalf of the Royal Horticultural Society. In 1823, he visited the East Coast of the USA and Canada. In 1824, he visited the West Coast, via Madeira, Juan Fernandez and the Galapagos Islands. He crossed the Rockies heading east to Hudson's Bay, meeting up with Thomas Drummond (c.1793 - 1835) and the pair returned to Britain together. Douglas left on his final trip in 1830, returning to the West Coast of the USA and Canada, and travelling on to Hawaii in 1833. He introduced more than 200 new plant species to Britain, including the Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and the Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis), which form the basis of the modern British forestry industry.

He died from injuries received from a wild bull, having fallen into a pit-trap in Hawaii.


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