Richard Spruce, a correction

Richard Spruce and his writing on Amazonian drugs
A bibliographic correction


Richard Spruce (1817-1893) is well known by the students specialized on the ethnobotany of psychoactive plants, due to his adventure in the Amazon, Orinoco and Andes, and because he was the first botanist to classify the ayahuasca vine as Banisteria caapi Spr., today considered a synonymous of Banisteriopsis caapi (Spruce ex Griseb.) Morton.

The writings published by Spruce – the book Notes of a botanist on the Amazon and Andes and many articles – have been collected and put in a condensed form in a 2-volumes book published with the same title in 1908 and edited by Alfred Russel Wallace. In this book Wallace inserted also (as chapter XXV in volume 2) an article written by Spruce concerning the psychoactive plants and potions, including ayahuasca, niopo (snuffs), guayusa, coca, guarana; but he gave an uncorrected bibliographic item, mistaking the name of the journal and the year of publication.

The wrong bibliographic item published in the 1908 edition of the Spruce book.

The wrong bibliographic item published in the 1908 edition of the Spruce’s book.

This article is very famous and important in the history of ethnobotany of psychoactive drugs, but I suspect that many researchers had the opportunity to read it only from the 1908 edition, and not from the original journal were it was published, and this because the wrong bibliographic item given by Wallace.

Here I present the correct bibliographic item, and the possibility to freely download this historic article:

SPRUCE RICHARD, 1874 (1873), On some remarkable narcotics of the Amazon Valley and Orinoco, Ocean Highways, vol. 1, pp. 184-193.

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