William Schipp (1891 - 1967)

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Schipp was the fifth child of German immigrants attracted by the gold rush and born near Broken Hill, NSW. After some study of botany, when he became particularly interested in flowering plants, he worked in the Darwin Botanical Gardens. From there he collected plants in Northern Australia , New Guinea and the Dutch East Indies for several years before moving to British Honduras (now Belize) in 1929. On the way he spent a few days with another plant explorer Dr Elmer Merrill, for whom the palm Adonidia merrilli is named.

He collected in Belize from 1929 to 1935, making the first comprehensive collection of Belize botany. Herbarium sets were distributed by William Schipp to European and American institutions, and represent one of the most significant and extensive collections ever made of the coastal plain flora of southern British Honduras. He was a professional botanical explorer who collected 154 taxa new to science. He compiled the first complete flora of the area in the form of a Catalogue entitled Flora of the British Honduras, Pricelist of Seeds & Herbarium Material.

In 1935 he returned to Australia because of failing health. His health improved in Australia, where he was later employed as a landscape gardener in the Blue Mountains by the controversial artist and painter, Norman Lindsay.

Plants named for him include the palms Desmoncus schippii, the recently restored Chamaedorea schippii, and a Genus Schippia, with only one species from the rainforests of Belize, the elegant little palmate palm Schippia concolor.

Contributed by:

Ian Edwards

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