(1798–1834), Scottish plant collector in Pacific North America. Born in Perthshire, he was apprenticed aged 11 at Scone Palace near Perth, later joining the Botanic Gardens of Glasgow University in 1820, at the same time as William Hooker (see Hooker, Sir Joseph Dalton) became Regius professor of botany. In 1823 he recommended Douglas to the Horticultural Society of London as a plant collector. Douglas travelled three times to the American continent for the society, the latter two journeys, made in 1824–27 and 1829–34 along the Pacific western coast, being the most significant. Douglas began botanizing at the estuary of the Columbia river and for two years explored the western side of the Rockies where he collected many plants, some of which had been first described by surgeon Archibald Menzies (1754–1842) in 1792 voyaging with Captain George Vancouver (1758–98) aboard The Discovery. Douglas collected and introduced numerous species of conifers, including Pinus lambertiana and Pseudotsuga menziesii; later there were Abies grandis, Cupressus macrocarpa, Pinus radiata, P. contorta, and Picea sitchensis. Traversing the Rockies he journeyed to Hudson's Bay where he sailed for London in 1827. In 1829 Douglas explored California and further north into Canada, where in a canoeing accident he lost his journal and plants. Embarking for England in 1834 he landed at Hawaii, where walking alone in the hills he fell into a cattle pit and was gored to death. Over 200 horticultural introductions were made by Douglas, many of which have proved popular in cultivation including Mahonia aquifolium, Garrya elliptica, Ribes sanguineum, and several species of penstemons and lupins.
From The Oxford Companion to the Garden in Oxford Reference.
Subjects: Lifestyle, Home, and Garden.