Robert W. Reade (or Read) was a pupil at Shaw College, Grahamstown, when Peter MacOwan* was the principal there. He collected plants, especially of the family Compositae, with MacOwan in the neighbourhood of Grahamstown. For example, in 1863 they found the rare othonna crassifolia "hanging in festoons from the krantzes in Fuller's Kloof and secured a few good specimens" (Grahamstown Journal, 11 October 1867, p. 3). However, they could not find the place again during the plant's flowering season. Reade also discovered a new species, Picralea polysticta, at Howison's Poort. In 1864, near Table Farm (some 10 km northwest of Grahamstown), he found a species of Kleinia (now Senecio) "which had escaped all other observers since the days of Thunberg in 1770" (Ibid). And on the slopes of Fuller's Hill he found a single specimen of a new species of Habenaria (family Orchidaceae) which was named Habenaria Readei in his honour by W.H. Harvey*. Dipcadi readii (family Liliaceae) was also named after him. His specimens were sent to Harvey in Dublin, Ireland, while others are in the herbarium of the Albany Museum, Grahamstown. Harvey acknowledged receiving many interesting species from him, especially of Compositae, and remarked on the quality of his dried specimens, in the Preface to Volume 3 of the Flora Capensis (1865).