Frederick Pursh

Frederick Pursh, botanist (b Friedrich Traugott Pursch in Grossenhain, Saxony 4 Feb 1774; d at Montréal 11 July 1820). At age 25 Pursh left Dresden to try his luck in the New World.

Frederick Pursh

Frederick Pursh, botanist (b Friedrich Traugott Pursch in Grossenhain, Saxony 4 Feb 1774; d at Montréal 11 July 1820). At age 25 Pursh left Dresden to try his luck in the New World. After working in the Baltimore and Philadelphia gardens, he became the collector for the rich naturalist Benjamin Smith Barton. On behalf of Barton and several other wealthy botanists, Pursh explored the eastern US from North Carolina to Vermont 1806-11. He also examined the specimens brought back by explorers Lewis and Clark. Pursh went to England with his notes and collections and found there the support and resources that allowed him to publish his main work, the Flora Americae Septentrionalis (1814). Despite major errors, it was an important contribution to knowledge of North American flora. Having for a while hoped to join Lord SELKIRK's Red River expedition, Pursh settled in Montréal to prepare a flora of Canada. In 1818 he explored Île d'ANTICOSTI but his specimens were destroyed in a fire the following winter. Discouraged and reduced to poverty, he died at age 46.