La Plata Expedition (1853-1855)

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Captain Thomas Jefferson Page led the good will mission to explore the basin of the Río de la Plata, including the Río Paraná and the Río Paraguay. The expedition traversed the rivers aboard the U.S. Navy steamer Water Witch, and stopped every few days to collect and explore. Page and Botanist Edward Palmer gathered numerous plants in Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina during the three year journey. Palmer, 22 years old, was appointed to be the main botanist and a hospital steward on the expedition. Palmer was sick with malaria in 1855, but he managed to make a few trips into the interior of Paraguay. This last year of exploration was an all-around rough year for the expedition; the Water Witch was fired upon by Paraguayan shore batteries, forcing them to stop their ascent of the Río Paraná.


  • Iltis, Hugh. Studies in the Capparaceae XXIV: Edward Palmer in Corumba, Brazil and the first collection of Capparis coimbrana. Brittonia 57 (April 2005) : 162-166.
  • McVaugh, Rogers. Botanical Collections of the La Plata Expedition of 1853-1855. Brittonia 5 (September 1943): 64-79.
  • Page, T. J. La Plata, the Argentine Confederation, and Paraguay. New York: Harper & Bros, 1859.

Date Range

1853 - 1855


  • Plants
  • Botany


  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • Paraguay


Expedition name