Moçiño, José Mariano (1757-1820)
Cerda, Juan de Diós Vicente de la (co-collector)
Cervantes, Vicente (Vincente) de (1755-1829) (co-collector)
Echeverría y Godoy, Atanasio (fl. 1771-1803) (co-collector)
Maldonado, José Maria (fl. 1787-1790) (co-collector)
Senseve, Jaime (-1805) (co-collector)
Sessé y Lacasta, Martín (1751-1808) (co-collector)
After seven years in Oaxaca Moçiño returned to Mexico City to study mathematics, which very much displeased his wife. While a student Moçiño undertook one of the first courses that Vicente Cervantes taught in the botanical garden that had been founded by Martín Sessé in 1787 as the basis for the Botanical Expedition to New Spain. Sessé soon considered him the most outstanding student on the course and in 1790 Moçiño was employed on the expedition, taking the place of Jaime Senseve on expeditions who remained in the city dissecting specimens. Due partly to the infuriation of Moçiño's wife Sessé was forced to petition the King for more funds, at which point the newly crowned Carlos IV demanded that Senseve be returned to the field and Moçiño be dismissed. The team were far from the city at this time and luckily before they returned the following year the Viceroy directed Moçiño onto another expedition as a way to keep him on as a researcher.
This trip to northern California and Alaska (Nootka) lasted two years and culminated in Moçiño's most famous work, the Noticias de Nutka. During this expedition the Spanish botanist Juan del Castillo died and Moçiño took his place, finally a legitimate member of the expedition, and he travelled in the south of modern day Mexico along with Vicente de la Cerda. On their return in 1974 Sessé had decided to split the expedition into two teams and Moçiño continued south into Guatemala with Cerda while the others travelled to the Caribbean islands. Moçiño and Cerda collected in this unexplored area in harsh conditions with scarce resources or equipment, continuing to El Salvador and Nicaragua.
On his way back Moçiño decided to remain a while in Chiapa because he was able to aid authorities during a leprosy outbreak. When he finally returned to Mexico City in 1799 he ended his active collecting and began to work in the Hospital of San Andreas studying the medicinal properties of his plants and publishing several articles. After long delays Sessé managed to get permission for Moçiño to return with him to Spain to complete their work and Moçiño lodged in Sessé's house on their arrival in 1803.
Unfortunately the Napoleonic Wars at the time diverted attention from the Flora Mexicana project and Moçiño returned to his old love of medicine. He became director of the medical police in Andalusia and he worked courageously and unceasingly to bring medical help to poor Spaniards caught in the yellow fever epidemic in the south of the country. Twice secretary and four times director of the Royal Academy of Medicine in Madrid, Moçiño kept the Academy alive, often supporting it from his own pocket despite continued poverty.
When Sessé died in 1809 and his wife returned to Mexico Moçiño was made homeless. Luckily he was also the director of the Natural History Museum, which saved him from destitution and he began to teach zoology courses there while organising specimens from the expedition with a fellow Mexican, Pablo de la Llave. His employment under the French government however, caused problems when the French authorities left Madrid in 1812 and he was imprisoned by the returning Spanish. After his release Moçiño accompanied the French on their second retreat, walking with a number of manuscripts and drawings that he had salvaged in a cart, sleeping with them at night. He eventually found refuge, impoverished and nearly blind, with Augustin Pyramus De Candolle in Montpellier, who worked with his drawings but found many mistakes and gave up on trying to publish a flora. Eventually though, De Candolle would base 17 new genera and 271 new species on the expedition's specimens which he published in his Prodromus.
In 1816 Moçiño resolved to return to Spain and by 1820 he had arrived in Barcelona, where he unfortunately suffered a haemorrhage and died, never making it back to Madrid. Moçiño is commemorated in the specific epithet of the national bird of Guatemala the Resplendent Quetzal, Pharomachrus mocinno de la Llave. The manuscripts of Sessé and Moçiño's Flora Mexicana and Plantae Novae Hispaniae remained unpublished until the latter part of the nineteenth century, when the appearance of the botanical volumes of Biologia Centrali-Americana stimulated renewed interest in their work. The illustrations that disappeared after Moçiño's death were discovered in the private library of the Torner family of Barcelona in 1980 and acquired by the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation in Pittsburgh.
Colmiero, M., 1858, La Botánica y Los Botánicos de la Península Hispano-Lusitana. Imprenta y Estereotipia de M. Rivadeneyra. Madrid.
Fernández de Caleya, P. B., Puig-Samper, M. A., Zanudio Varela, G., Valero González, M. and Maldonado Polo, J. L., 1998, Exploration Botánico de las Islas de Barlovento: Cuba y Puerto Rico. Siglo XVIII. Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas. Madrid.
García Montoya, F., 2003, Botánicos de los Siglos XVI, XVII y XVIII. Cabra. Córdoba.
Ricket, H. W., 1949, The Royal Botanical Expedition to New Spain. The Cronica Botanica Co. Waltham, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
San Pío Alardeen, M. P. and Puig-Samper Mulero, M. Á, Eds., 1999, Las Flores del Paraíso: La Expedición Botánica de Cuba en los Siglos XVIII y XIX. Real Jardín Botánico, Madrid.
Del Olmo, M. and Monge, F., 1998, Las 'Noticias de Nutka' de José Mariano Moziño. Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas. Madrid.
Anon, 1981, "Long-lost Drawings from the Sessé and Moçiño Expedition, acquired by the Hunt Institute", Kew Bulletin, 36(2): 426
T.A. Sprague, 1926, "Sessé and Moçiño's Plantae Novae Hispaniae and Flora Mexicana", Kew Bulletin, 1926(9): 417-425.
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