Johan Peter Falck to Carl Linnaeus,
3 November 1766 n.s.
L3828. Johan Peter FalckJohan Peter Falck (1732-1774). Swedish.
Adversed via Merchant Hultén, Johan Peter FalckFalck, Johan Peter (1732-1774).
Last autumn Falck gathered a bunch of seeds [fruits] of the false spiraea, the Spiraea sorbifolia to see whether they were ripe enough to develop into new plantlets. During spring they were sown into a whole bed and most of them developed well. By autumn they grew to the length of a finger. As a test they were left uncovered for the coming winter. That autumn Falck was also eager to study the outcome of fructification for Spiraea sorbifolia, but he could not find a single well-developed fruit; all were empty. Falck thinks that the plants prefer wetter conditions to thrive and develop seeds. However, the false spiraea develops side-shoots easily. He noted that the other species, Spiraea crenata produced plenty of well-developed fruits; he intends to sow these next spring.
During his first summer in the garden Falck threw a fruit of Nymphaea nelumbo from Volga in a ditch after having scratched it on one side and formed a humus-rich clay ball around it, according to the instructions of the Advisor of Collegium Medicum, Johann Jacob LercheLerche, Johann Jacob
This summer Falck tries once again, but this time he peeled off the outer layer of the seed-coat without destroying the seed embryo. Then he sowed the seeds in a pot with a mixture of humus-rich clay. After some eight days, when he inspected the pots, he could to his surprise see that the seeds had germinated. It could have been something to boast about for the Germans. But, the stupid gardener destroyed the whole experiment one day when Falck was away. He had by misunderstanding thrown away the small pots when he tried to save the big barrel, where Falck kept the pots when that jar’s upper edge risked drying out, by putting it under water.
Falck wonders whether Linnaeus might help him to get more, new seeds for next summer. He describes the peeled seed of Nymphaea, where the tender embryo is green; one can see the structure and shape of the leaves. At the base there is a pedicel-like structure, which may easily break.
A year ago Falck got bulbs of white lilies. Next summer flowering stalks appeared, which instead of carrying flowers developed bulbils at the joints to the bracts. He removed all the bulbils and put them in the soil as for other bulbs. Soon they produced leaves, and grow rather big by the autumn. Falck then asks if this phenomenon has been observed earlier. If he only knew the natural condition for this, the florists would never earn a kopek for such bulbs for his garden. Could it be that the growing conditions were too humid in the new greenhouses which had been built from fresh timber logs in rainy weather.
Falck discovered a kind of fungus, Lycoperdon, if he is not wrong, parasiticum, aggregatum, sessile, subglobosum; ore 3-fido; ”pulvere fusco”, among cones of a living spruce tree in the garden. Most of the cones were infested on both sides of the cone scales. Most of the fungi were in an early stage, thus the spore powder was intact. Falck is pleased to send some to Linnaeus and also wants to know what it is and if the fungus is previously known. He is not comfortable with the few books in the library of the Collegium Medicum.
Falck did not observe the fungus Peziza in Sweden, but here it is found on old planks. He has eagerly gathered information about what kind of fungi Russians eat and noted that they eat all kind of fungi except Amanita. But he believes that when they are starving they do not hesitate to try Amanita, especially if they have access to alcohol. This is their custom. One has to experience their strong nature and way of living to understand that. Falck assures Linnaeus that he is not lying.
Falck is worried about Linnaeus’s former student, Aleksandr Matveevich KaramyschewKaramyschew, Aleksandr Matveevich
Falck wonders whether Adam KuhnKuhn, Adam (1741-1817).
Falck asks about Pehr Forsskål’sForsskål, Peter
If Linnaeus still is interested in having vernatio arborum [i.e. the leafing] observed in Uppsala, Falck is more than willing to do the same here, although he only has few trees and bushes. At least one might be able to observe some differences in the climate.
Falck sends his most humble regards to Linnaeus’s wife [Sara Elisabet LinnaeaMoraea, Sara Elisabet
P.S. 1 Falck’s migraine and melancholia are quite dreadful this autumn. In the summer he feels well; but as soon as the cold and bad weather make him stay indoors his sicknesses strikes him. He writes about the time in Uppsala when he first recognized this symptom 5 years ago by some aches in his right ear. The symptom has prevailed from that time although it can be surpassed by other symptoms. By now not even Laudanum liquidum can help. Once he took a dose of 50 drops of it without slightest result.
P.S. 2 He encloses seeds of some plants including stones [seeds] of Prunus Sibirica. Falck considers it a pity that the surgeons and the pharmacists did not send anything. It is known that they do not understand such things, but it is also known that they do not have the slightest interest in participating. They have all kinds of excuses; mostly they are overloaded with ordinary work. Under such circumstances Falck has no more requests, since they are anyhow impossible, superfluous or in vain.