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Link: • Carl Peter Thunberg to Carl Linnaeus, 2 July 1773 n.s.
Dated d. 2 Julii 1773.. Sent from Cape Town (South Africa) to Uppsala (Sweden). Written in Swedish.


Carl Peter ThunbergThunberg, Carl Peter
(1743-1828). Swedish. Botanist,
physician, explorer. Professor of
medicine and botany at Uppsala. Studied
medicine under Linnaeus in Uppsala,
medicine and surgery in Paris, natural
history under Johannes Burman in
Amsterdam. Travelled in South Africa in
1772-1775, in Japan 1775-1776, Java and
Ceylon in 1777-1778. Correspondent of
sent a letter to Linnaeus only a few days ago [Thunberg to Linnaeus, 28 June 1773Letter L4851]. The ship carrying this letter has, however, been kept in harbour because of calm. Thunberg has used the time to examine and describe plants and can now add a list of 23.

There are two things that Thunberg is missing in the Cape. One is the meadow. After a long winter the meadow offers un indescribable richness and beauty. In the Cape, the grass is thin and rare, mostly found near rivers and brooks. Slopes and mountains are rocky, shrubs and coppices dominate the vegetation, and they dry in the scorching heat; luckily, there are evergreen plants that cheer up the dismal impression. There are several species of gramina but most of them are useless for the cattle, e.g. Schoeni, Elegia, Thamnochortus, Junci. Food is offered by Brizae, Panica, Scirpi, Poae, Cyperi,Agrostides, Bromi, Andropogines, and Alopecuri.

The second thing that Thunberg is missing is our beautiful forest. In the Cape you find trees only in valleys and ravines. Trees are growing on the slopes of the Table Mountain, and of other mountains, too, but most trees are curved and knotty and not very high. The rest consists of impenetrable, incredibly thorny shrubs. The Company [Thunberg refers to the Dutch East India Company [Vereenigde Oostindische CompagnieVereenigde Oostindische Compagnie,
Dutch. The Dutch East India
Company was established in 1602.
] in Cape Town] owns forests far away from the Cape which are felled and transported with extreme difficulty. Thunberg present a list of numerous species of shrubs and small trees, such as : Phylicae, Struthiolae, Penae, Diosmae etc.

There are big trees, too. Most of them he knows only by their African names. Those he can identify are: Olea capensis and europaea, Protea argentea, Probejum, Sophora capensis, Cunonia, and a new species of Tarchonanthus.

Thus, wood is both rare and expensive. Roots and branches from Protea and Phylica yield firewood. Slaves collect and carry home bundles of it.

European trees adorn the farmyards, e.g. oaks, poplars, and citrus-trees.


a. original holograph (LS, XV, 279-280). [1] [2] [3]