-Search for letters
-Search in texts






Link: • Pehr Kalm to Carl Linnaeus, 8 June 1749 n.s.
Dated 28. may. 1749. Sent from New York (USA) to Uppsala (Sweden). Written in Swedish.


Tomorrow morning Pehr KalmKalm, Pehr (1716-1779).
Swedish. Botanist and traveller,
professor of natural history at
Åbo. Disciple of Linnaeus.
Travelled in North America 1748-1751.
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
will leave New York and go to a district where no botanist has been before. He will try to finish his report to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences [Kungliga Svenska VetenskapsakademienKungliga Svenska Vetenskapsakademien,
Swedish. The Royal Swedish
Academy of Sciences, Stockholm. Founded
in 1739.
] in Albany and send it back to his friends in New York to be forwarded to Europe. Kalm has collected and described lots of plants. He can see that Johan Frederik Gronovius’sGronovius, Johan Frederik
(1690-1762). Dutch. Naturalist, senator
of Leiden. Linnaeus’s benefactor and
friend. Published Flora Virginica
(1743, 1762) together with John Clayton.
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
descriptions in Flora VirginicaGronovius, Johan Frederik
Flora Virginica, exhibens plantas
quas v.c. Johannes Clayton in Virginia
observavit atque collegit. Easdem
methodo sexuali disposuit, ad genera
propria retulit, nominibus specificis
insignavit, & minus cognitas
descripsit J. F. Gronovius
, I-II
(Leiden 1739-1743).
are accurate when he had good specimens to study, but dry and broken ones sometimes led him astray: Azalea Pinxterbloem, Andromeda, common Laurel, and Pyrola are such mistakes. Podophyllus has here never more than six petals. Veratrum Helleborus album is common and used to protect the maize: various birds pick up the grains of maize, but if you boil the root of Veratrum and soak the grains in this water, the birds fall asleep and lie down, which frightens the other birds. The cattle never touch such grains. Nyssa is called Fisherman’s tree because of its smell. Kalm enumerates about 40 plants in Flora SvecicaLinnaeus, Carl Flora Svecica,
exhibens plantas per regnum Sveciae
crescentes, systematice cum differentiis
specierum, synonymis autorum, nominibus,
incolarum, solo locorum, usu
(Leiden 1745).
Soulsby no. 408.
that are found here, some of these plants he got from John BartramBartram, John (1701-1777).
American. Botanist living in
Pennsylvania and Delaware. Father of
John Bartram the Younger and William
Bartram. Correspondent of Linnaeus.
. Kalm’s flora will contain more than any other existing flora: the economic and medicinal use, locality, flowering season, maturity of seeds, deciduous or evergreen foliage, if the plants are eaten by cattle, birds and other animals, and their English, German, Swedish, and French names. As to birds, Kalm does not see a single one that is found in Europe. Even if they look like some European birds, they sound quite different, e.g. Caprimulgus or the last species of Hirundo in Fauna SvecicaLinnaeus, Carl Fauna Svecica
sistens animalia Sveciae regni:
quadrupedia, aves, amphibia, pisces,
insecta, vermes, distributa per classes
& ordines, genera & species. Cum
differentiis specierum, synonymis
autorum, nominibus incolarum, locis
habitationum, descriptionibus
(Stockholm, 1746).
Soulsby no. 1151.
, called whip-poor-will in America. The same thing goes for quadrupeds: there are bears, foxes, hares, deer, oxen, rats, squirrels etc., but they look different and must be other species or varieties. The red fox was introduced by an Englishman into New England about 100 years ago. Others say that it came from Greenland in the unusually cold winter of 1697. Kalm has also collected numerous insects; he enumerates them by referring to their numbers in Fauna Svecica. He mentions specifically the so called Breadeater and Neloê, destroyer of Veratrum. Cadwallader ColdenColden, Cadwallader
(1688-1776). American. Physician of
Scottish origin, botanist, physicist,
politician. Lieutenant governor of New
York. Correspondent of Linnaeus.
, said to be loved by few, but of good help to Kalm, sends his regards [the right edge of the f. 20r is partly destroyed]. Bartram is a keen observer but very lazy when it comes to collecting and describing plants. Twice he sent his itinerary to Gronovius for publication, but, luckily, it was taken by pirates both times. He is a Jack-of-all-trades: farmer, carpenter, turner, shoemaker, mason, gardener, priest, lumberman etc., an extremely resorceful man. The root of Aralia canadensis heals wounds quite remarkably. Indians eat the root and seeds of Arum. The root of Agrimonia vulgaris yields a tea that is effective against fevers. Kalm works from dawn to 10 o’clock in the evening and is quite exhausted. A problem is when he has one English and one American plant of the same species. The difference between their flower seasons can be up to a month. The American plant knows the climate better and has adapted to it; the English species has not learnt that yet, and many succumb in the cold. Kalm has great expectations of finding many new plants in Canada. Unfortunately, rattlesnakes are very common there. Polygala is not effective against their bites. Kalm is advised to take the following precautionary measures:1. Always have good herbs ready. 2. Always wear thick boots.3. Wear wide and long boatswain’s trousers. Those who survive rattlesnake bites often get renewed attacks every year at the same time they were bitten and must take antidotes. If time admits, Kalm will write more to Linnaeus and Sten Carl BielkeBielke, Sten Carl (1709-1753).
Swedish. Baron, government official,
patron of science, and naturalist. One
of the founders of the Royal Swedish
Academy of Sciences. Private pupil of
Linnaeus. Close friend of Pehr Kalm,
whose voyage to America he supported
financially. Correspondent of Linnaeus.
from Albano. Kalm ends his letter by saying that he wishes that Linnaeus never will write such hard letters to him again, and he begs of him not to disgrace him in front of other people by opening his letters and sending them to others. Kalm cannot say how sad he has been because of this, and how much it has dissipated his thoughts. He wishes the letter had been left in England; now he has asked Abraham SpaldingSpalding, Abraham (1712-1782).
Swedish. Merchant, London, in
partnership with Gustaf Brander.
not to send any letters here to Kalm but to keep them until he arrives in London.

P.S. Kalm asks of Linnaeus to communicate the small letters to his mother [Catharina KalmKalm, Catharina Swedish.
Mother of Pehr Kalm, wife of Gabriel
Kalm, born Ross.
] and to other addressees.


a. original holograph (LS, VIII, 20). [1] [2]


1. Bref och skrifvelser (1922), vol. I:8, p. 43-46   p.43  p.44  p.45  p.46.