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Biographical entry Nelson, David (? - 1789)

20 June 1789
Kupang, Timor
Botanical collector


David Nelson, formerly a gardener at Kew Botanic Gardens, accompanied Cook's Third Voyage (1777-1779) as the official plant collector. Being the first to collect the type material of Eucalyptus obliqua on Bruny Island, off the coast of Tasmania, he greatly contributed to the study of eucalyptus. Nelson was later botanical collector on the HMS Bounty under Captain Bligh. He was responsible for the first apple trees and potatoes planted in Tasmania. The plant material he collected on this journey from Australia, Cape of Good Hope and Timor, are now in the British Museum. Loyal to Captain Bligh, he was one of the party set adrift by the mutineers of the Bounty in 1789. Although he survived the epic voyage in the open boat, he died of fever and exposure shortly after reaching Timor.



Taxonomy event - Eucalyptus obliqua described by L'Herit. (1788), of which Nelson collected the type.

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Published resources

Book Sections

  • Mabberley, R. D., 'David Nelson, d.1789' in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004). Details


See also

  • Hall, Norman, Botanists of the Eucalypts: short biographies of people who have named eucalypts, whose names have been given to species or who have collected type material (Melbourne: CSIRO, 1978), 101 pp. Details

Christine Moje