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1927 Map of the Arboretum

1956 - 1957: Fifth Archbold Expedition to New Guinea

A view of Mount Obia, Normanby Island, overlooking stunted scrub and emergent conifers of the genus Dacrydium at about 3300 feet (1000 meters) on the western crest of Mount Pabinama. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, 1959.
A view of Mount Obia, Normanby Island, overlooking stunted scrub and emergent conifers of the genus Dacrydium at about 3300 feet (1000 meters) on the western crest of Mount Pabinama.

Plants collected on this Expedition

Plant ID Accession Date Recieved As Origin Source

Expedition Stats

Indonesia, Papua New Guinea

Event Type
Non-Arnold Arboretum Expedition
Collection Type
Germplasm, Herbarium Specimens
Arnold Arboretum Participants
Leonard John Brass
Map of the collecting area of the Fifth Archbold expedition to Papua New Guinea.
Map of the collecting area of the Fifth Archbold expedition to Papua New Guinea. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, 1959.

The 1956-1957 Fifth Archbold Expedition to Papua New Guinea was again led by Leonard J. Brass, an Australian botanist and associate curator of the Archbold Expeditions. Two staff members from the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) accompanied him, zoologist Russell F. Peterson and assistant Lionel J. Evennett.

The trip was a continuation of the previous effort to describe and classify the biology, geography, and climate of the southwestern Pacific archipelago. The Arnold Arboretum funded this expedition under the condition that plant material from the Fourth Archbold Expedition be identified and submitted to the Harvard University Herbaria.

The team departed in March of 1956 and returned in January 1957. They explored the southeastern mainland of Papua New Guinea, and four islands to the north: Fergusson, Normanby, Rossel, and Woodlark. The regions explored on this expedition contained less biological diversity compared to the regions explored on previous trips. Those areas possessed more varied forest types and a wider elevation range.

A scene on Rossel Island with the expedition carriers in Dambeni hamlet, at 600 feet (180 meters) elevation on the mountain slopes above Jinju.
The resthouse landing place in Rambuso Inlet, Sudest Island.
Unbroken rain forest clothes the backbone range westward from near the expedition camp on the north slopes of Mt. Sisa, Misima Island.
Agamoia village on Fergusson Island with the resthouse and an expedition fly in background.
View northeast over Lake Lavu to Hughes Bay on Fergusson Island and the high Amphlett Islands from about 700 feet (210 meters) on the Fagululu-Agamoia trail.
View northeast over Lake Lavu to Hughes Bay on Fergusson Island and the high Amphlett Islands from about 700 feet (210 meters) on the Fagululu-Agamoia trail. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, 1959.

The quantity of collections were notable. As Brass published in his summary report, the team made 2,657 collections of plants yielding 14,640 herbarium specimens Herbarium specimen: An herbarium specimen is a pressed and dried plant sample that is generally mounted on a sheet of paper. Specimens can be stored indefinitely and are used for a wide variety of botanical research. including duplicates. Vouchers were sent to Rijks Herbarium in the Netherlands for identification before sets of duplicates were sent to the Arnold Arboretum, the United States National Herbarium, and additional herbaria.

Dig Deeper

Peterson’s field catalog of zoological specimens from the expedition has been digitized by the AMNH, as has Brass’s trip diary.

Read Brass’s Summary of the Fifth Archbold Expedition.