Selected by Banks from among Kew staff to be an overseas collector ('King's Botanist to the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew'). Between 1814 and 1816 he collected in Brazil, arriving in Australia in December 1816. Cunningham joined several expeditions, including that of Oxley along the Lachlan and Macquarie Rivers (1817) and Philip Parker King's coastal surveys (Mermaid and Bathurst, 1817-1822). In 1818 he collected at Illawarra, New South Wales, and in Tasmania at Hobart and Macquarie Harbour. Other localities visited by the King survey included Port Macquarie and Hastings River in New South Wales, Rodd's Bay, Percy Isles, Cleveland Bay, Halifax and Rockingham Bays, and Endeavour River in Queensland, and Goulburn Island, Vernon Islands, Cambridge Gulf and Port Warrender in northern Australia. In 1822 Cunningham collected in New South Wales at Illawarra, Blue Mountains, Pandora Pass and Liverpool Plains. In 1824 he visited the source of the Murrumbidgee and Brisbane Rivers, and in 1825 the Nepean and Hunter Rivers, Pandora Pass, Liverpool Plains, Wellington Valley, Coxs River and other places in New South Wales. He was in New Zealand (1826) and on the Darling Downs, Queensland (1827). He returned to England in 1831, but came back to New South Wales in 1837 as Government Botanist, a position he resigned after a year.
Many taxa have been based on his collections, and many of his manuscript names have since been taken up, but he published little himself. His main collection is at K, with some duplicates elsewhere, including B, BM, BR, BRI, CGE, DBN, E, FI, G, GH, GL, L, LINN, M, MEL, MO, NSW, OXF (500+ specimens), SING, U, US, W and WELT.
His younger brother Richard Cunningham was also in Australia from ~1833 till his death in 1835.
New names - A.Cunn. alone
* 139 names (5 genera, 133 species, 1 variety) of apparently valid status
* 12 further species nom. illeg.
* 10 further species nom. inval.
New names - A.Cunn. ex Someone
* 329 names (6 genera, 2 sections, 317 species, 4 varieties) of apparently decent status
* 33 further names nom. illeg. (2 genera, 31 species)
* 99 further names nom. inval. (1 genus, 98 species)
New combinations - A.Cunn. ex Someone
* 5 names of apparently valid status (4 species, 1 variety)
* 1 further species nom. illeg.
* 1 further species nom. inval.
Allan Cunningham collecting locations from AVH (2012)
Extracted from: A.E.Orchard (1999) A History of Systematic Botany in Australia, in Flora of Australia Vol.1, 2nd ed., ABRS. [consult for source references]; Anna Monro, APNI, for plant naming (2012); map AVH (2012)