Prince of Explorers
Today is the birthday of the Prussian botanist Ludwig Leichhardt who was born on this day in 1813.
Leichhardt is remembered for his impressive and arduous collecting efforts in Australia. For his part, Leichhardt loved Australia. He wrote,
"I would find it hard to remain in Germany, or even in Europe, now. I would have returned to the scene of my wanderings, to the clear, sunny skies of Australia."
In October in 1845, Leichhardt wrote in his diary after losing his work to a fire:
"... tears were in my eyes when I saw ...[the] results of my expedition vanish ... my collection had the great advantage of being almost complete in blossoms, fruit, and seed."
A year later, in 1846, Leichhardt wrote a letter to his botanist contact and friend the Italian, Gaetano Durando, who was living in Paris. Leichhardt's message conveys the extreme difficulties and dangers faced by the early plant explorers.
"My dear friend,
You have, no doubt, noticed and regretted my long silence...But you must bear this in mind, my good friend, ... it was not my lot to travel all at my ease... Gladly would I have made drawings of my plants, and noted fully all particulars of the different species which I saw; and how valuable would such memoranda have been... [as] four of my pack-horses having been drowned. Botanical and geological specimens thus abandoned—how disappointing! From four to five thousand plants were thus sacrificed..."
In the spring of 1848, Ludwig Leichhardt and a small group of explorers began what was to be a two- to three-year expedition across Australia.
Shortly after beginning the trek, the entire party vanished with barely a trace.
Known as the ‘Prince of Explorers,’ Leichhardt was 35 when he was lost to time.