Pehr Osbeck to Carl Linnaeus,
9 March 1751 n.s.
L1233. Pehr OsbeckPehr Osbeck (1723-1805). Swedish.
Pehr OsbeckOsbeck, Pehr (1723-1805).
Osbeck sends some seeds and plants with a ship that is likely to reach Uddevalla in some months’ time.
A very common plant will not start to flower while Osbeck is in Cadiz.
Osbeck has already seen how difficult it is to make and preserve collections of botanical material during a voyage, but he prefers keeping it himself to sending it to Sweden with somebody else. Osbeck will do all he can to preserve the material.
Osbeck sends his greetings to Linnaeus’s family.
After this introduction, the letter more takes the form of a transcript of a diary kept by Osbeck during the voyage from Sweden. The ship had left the west coast of Sweden, crossed the North Sea and the Spanish Sea, and for six weeks they had seen nothing but air and water, with whales and seagulls accompanying them in all sorts of weather. On January 9, they saw Cap Vincent, passed lots of fishermen coming from the towns of Rotta, Porto de S. Maria, Porto Real and Cadiz. Eventually, the ship anchored outside Cadiz among one hundred other ships, and after the sanitary inspection had been performed, there were ample opportunities to visit the city.
Osbeck has admired fortifications, alleys planted with Populus alba, fountains, churches, cloisters and private houses. There are numerous plants in pots, such as Leucoia or Cheiranthus, and also carnations, rosemary, Sedum arborescens, “vinruta” and others. The houses often have towers which offer views of the surrounding landscape. Close to the harbour inside the city, a rich and varied marketing of fruits, vegetables and fishes takes place. Big potatoes and leek and garlic, which the Spaniards use very much in their food, are especially notable; several of the fishes are quite unknown in Sweden, and Osbeck mentions some with reference to Systema naturae, 6th editionLinnaeus, Carl Systema
The Spaniards use horses, mules and asses for transport. The asses are the smallest but do the best service. Osbeck is surprised that they have not been tried in Sweden, since they are content with little fodder and work very well.
All fruits and all water required for Cadiz must be bought from Porto de S Maria across the bay. There, a spring supplies good water, which is led in pipes on one side into the city, on the other towards the anchored ships that take most of their water from this place.
The town of Porto de S Maria is much richer in flora and fauna than Cadiz itself. Osbeck gives a detailed report of the species found there and of the plantations of fruit trees. About 80 plants are mentioned, mostly with references to published works but also in the form of brief descriptions, and with information about their locations.
The soil is sand, mostly of a white colour, with blue or white clay underneath. Osbeck reports briefly on the insects, mostly beetles and butterflies, found on the beaches.
Osbeck is very glad to have had the opportunity to see this rich flora. The voyage would have been too long for him, if he had not had this stay in the south of Spain.
1. “Linnés korrespondens med Pehr Osbeck” (1974), p. 82-84 p.82 p.83 p.84.