Herbarium J.F. Ehrhart (1742-1795)
Advisor: Sergey A. Balandin, Lomonosov Moscow State University
Herbarium J.F. Ehrhart (1742-1795)
Moscow State University Herbarium
Ehrhart's collections in the Moscow State University Herbarium (MW) are thought to be the largest in the world. Only a few of Ehrhart's specimens are to be found in other European herbaria (mainly those in Germany and England). The collections in the MW are truly classical, because the majority were created under the supervision of C. Linnaeus. Today, Ehrhart's herbarium is in perfect order, and its content almost entirely corresponds with the above-mentioned catalog. The herbarium consists of:
• Specimens obtained from various collectors (mainly botanical gardens);
• Dried plants collected by Ehrhart himself in the vicinity of Uppsala and in the Uppsala Botanical Garden;
• Ehrhart's collections from various places in Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, and the Netherlands;
• Collections of plants cultivated in Ehrhart's own garden;
• Type specimens
There are approximately 3,300 plant species in Ehrhart's collections in the MW.
Approximately eighty persons contributed to the collections. Many of the collectors were outstanding botanists, for example, C. Linnaeus and his son, C. P. Thunberg, Weber, Acharius, Bergius, and Forskahl. Linnaeus gave Ehrhart eighteen specimens of the species previously described in his main work Species plantarum (1753, 1763).
Jacob Friedrich Ehrhart
Jacob Friedrich Ehrhart was born to a priest and his wife in Switzerland in 1742. After studying pharmacy in Nuremberg (1765-1768), he moved to Erlangen, where he started collecting plants. For three years (1773-1775), Ehrhart studied at the famous Uppsala University, where C. Linnaeus and his son were his teachers. He then moved to Hanover, where he died twenty years later (1795). Ehrhart was a very successful and productive botanist. He described 185 cryptogamous and over 200 phanerogamous species, including many widespread plants, for example Equisetum pratense Ehrh., Betula pubescens Ehrh., Carex chordorrhiza Ehrh., and Silene dichotoma Ehrh.
The hortus siccus consists of 72 packs of specimens collected by Ehrhart and his colleagues. Each herbarium specimen is a widely spaced dried plant with a label bearing the name of the plant, and the date and place of collection (or the name of the collector), all written in Ehrhart's own hand. When writing the labels, Ehrhart used various abbreviations; these were interpreted in the catalog of Ehrhart's collections, which was published by Professor G. F. Hoffmann in 1824. It was Hoffmann who brought the collections to Moscow at the beginning of the nineteenth century. After Hoffmann's death, his and Ehrhart's herbaria were bought by Moscow University. Later (in ca. 1840), Moscow University purchased the series of Ehrhart's exsiccata.
Uppsula Botanical Garden
The collection from Uppsala Botanical Garden (which at the time was probably the richest garden in the world) is of great scientific value, too, as the plants collected were determined by Linnaeus himself. Some 850 species in Ehrhart's herbarium were collected during excursions in the vicinity of Uppsala, which were undertaken together with Linnaeus and/or his son. Unfortunately, the Uppsala flora herbarium in the MW is not complete: The full collection was kept in Göttingen at the beginning of the nineteenth century, but later parts of it were lost. About 30 specimens represent species described by Ehrhart himself; others were treated by Ehrhart as subspecies of the species described by Linnaeus.