ISSN 1188-603X

No. 288 May 13, 2002 Victoria, B.C.
Dr. A. Ceska, P.O.Box 8546, Victoria, B.C. Canada V8W 3S2

BEN # 287 and # 288 are dedicated to the memory of the botanist


who was born more than 240 years ago,
on December 5, 1761

Tadeáš Haenke came to the west coast of North America with the Malaspina expedition in 1791. His collection was one of the first larger botanical collections from this area. Often compared to Alexander von Humboldt, Tadeáš Haenke made his mark exploring North and (especially) South America, Philippine and Mariana Islands. Here we would like to show various aspects of Haenke’s life and work.

[Webmaster’s note: I have tired to maintain as many of the Czech characters as I could but, particularly, checks over the ’c’ (in Ceska [Češka]) and ’r’, ’z’ and ’u’ (as in Krizovniku [Křižovníků]) may not be depicted correctly.]


From: Donald C. Cutter, Professor Emeritus, Department of History, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico - abbreviated for BEN by Adolf Ceska []

Tadeo Haenke (as his name usually appears in Hispanic documentation) is the most complex and interesting figure of the group under the command of Spanish Naval Captain Alejandro Malaspina. Haenke served as "naturalist" aboard the Descubierta for 28 months from April 1790 to August 1792, or approximately half of the long Spanish naval scientific voyage. During that time he was a veritable jack-of-all trades, lending his hand to the fields of medicine, natural history, lithology, volcanology, geography, anthropology, art, and even musicology.

Haenke’s training as a young scholar was given added impetus by strange quirks of fortune. The first was his arrival only hours after the initial departure from Cádiz on 30 July 1789 of the corvettes Descubierta and Atrevida. Next he was somewhat even later when his effort to overtake the expedition was unhappily thwarted by his vessel being shipwrecked almost within sight of his goal. Finally, over 8 moths after his first near miss, he joined expedition members at Santiago de Chile. He had made fine use of his time, carrying out extensive field work from Buenos Aires, across the Pampas, and over the Andean cordillera. A botanical collection of over 1100 specimens resulted from this solo effort in an area previously unexplored botanically. To this he added 1400 specimens gathered even earlier in the viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata while he was still at Buenos Aires.

When after a year of constant activity along the Pacific Rim the group was split into two detachments, it was Haenke’s destiny to accompany the larger group to the Pacific Northwest Coast. Most of the expedition’s scientists accompanied the smaller group to carry out reconnaissance of the heartland of the Viceroyalty of New Spain [Mexico]. It was a change that placed Haenke as "the botanist" and chief scientist on the important northern phase, one dedicated to primary exploration. It also reduced the time he could spend with his specialty of botany, other fields becoming also his responsibility. There is no reason to believe that he was other than delighted with his newly found importance. Three extended expedition stops were made. The first was at Yakutat Bay among the Tlingit Indians, the second at Friendly Cove of Nootka Sound, and the last at Monterey, capital of the recently established but prospering colony of Upper California.

During this period, Haenke’s work was almost overwhelming. On frequent excursions ashore, Haenke was accompanied by enlisted men who served as helpers. During much of his extended fieldwork, Haenke was accompanied by one man whose name is known. He was a Filipino gunner, Gerónimo de Arcángel, whose activity became almost indispensable. When finally, Haenke was detached many months later to explore the Andean Highlands, he convinced Malaspina to assign Gerónimo to go as his assistant. No record has surfaced of how long Gerónimo stayed with Haenke, but perhaps it was until death overtook one or the other.

Collecting and preserving plants was not an easy thing given shipboard conditions, but careful stowage of specimens was possible. Additionally, obtaining seeds was another method that permitted ease of collection and the possibility of plant transfer to a considerable distance.

Many years ago the prominent California botanist and Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, Willis L. Jepson, made an interesting indirect discovery as the result of a visit by a correspondent to Alhambra in Granada in southern Spain. In the garden of the Generalife above that monumental vestige of Moorish Occupation stood a single magnificent tree which called attention. Upon his inspection of samples from the tree Jepson had "discovered" the pride of California forestry, the Sequoia sempervirens, usually called the Coast Redwood. There was no doubt about identification, for there in its glory was a mature tree which he knew well. But how had it gotten there? Because of its rough description of 125 feet in height and 4 feet in diameter it was clearly over a century old in 1926. But how had this misplaced giant arrived in Andalusia? When writing concerning its provenance, Jepson credited Haenke: "The Redwood was first collected near Monterey by Thaddeus Haenke of the Malaspina Expedition in 1791, who may be said to be its botanical discoverer." [The Silva of California, p. 138]. Later while at Kew in London Jepson found a record that Haenke had indeed collected the redwood while in California.

The California redwood also caught non-scientific attention in a practical document compiled by Haenke in which he described what he called the Red Cypress [Sequoia sempervirens] in his Report of lumber produced in Monterey and useful for ship building and for houses:

"No. 4. Red cypress, has a fibrous, thick bark about four inches thick, furrowed up and down and somewhat crosswise with up to three inch intervals. It is very rough and of a dark, somewhat reddish color. The leaves are ľ of an inch long and Ľ inch wide, and very thick. The boughs are flattened. The trees are straight and very thick without pitch. Those around the presidio get to be some 20 feet in diameter but hollow. The color of the wood is like cedar, with a whitish grain. It has rather large knots, but without pitch. It is very light and they make boards for houses and furniture. It is abundant but is somewhat distant [from Monterey]. It has a small cone with seeds." [MS 126 in Museo Naval, Madrid.]

Since Haenke never returned to Spain or even Europe but died in Cochabamba, Bolivia in 1817, the seeds were transported and planted by persons not specifically known. The other expedition botanist, Luis Neé, seems to be a good possibility since in June 1795 he withdrew from the Bureau of Natural History three boxes of dried plants "belonging to himself and Haenke."

In fairly recent times the great redwood in Granada died, but all is not lost. In my own varied historical researches, centered mostly in the Museo Naval in Madrid, I have had occasion to visit several times the great shrine of El Escorial. It is a monument to the ingenuity of King Felipe II who had it constructed in the late 16th century as a retreat, castle, monastery, and residence. At a later date, there was added to it Casita del Príncipe, nearly a half mile away and around it is well kept garden. Without any intention of discovery, I noted there some large, tall, straight, and somehow familiar trees that are among its most prominent assets. Not trusting my lesser capacity, I obtained without any trouble one of the appropriately small cones and a few leaves. These I sent by air mail to California to verify my opinion that these were indeed Coast Redwoods. By the size of the trees they were contemporaries of that seen years earlier in Granada. When the positive identity was made, I came to the conclusion that here from the same source, and at an appropriate royal site, one of the Haenke’s gifts to posterity was thriving, apparently unknown to visitors, curators and guides. I felt that I alone knew their secret that they came from my native state two centuries earlier and that they resulted from Haenke’s ingenuity.


From: Blanka Skočdopolová [] and Jan Ĺ tÄ›pánek []

The most important of Haenke’s botanical collections came from his travels with the Malaspina expedition from North and South America, Philippine and Mariana Islands in the years 1790 to 1792. Tadeáš Haenke was Malaspina’s botanist together with Luis Neé.

Luis Neé’s material, altogether about 10,000 specimens, was deposited in Madrid and at least partially researched by Cavanilles. Haenke’s material that was obviously rich, was gradually sent to Spain, but nothing is known about its fate. According to written records, Haenke sent to Spain 15 crates with plants and other collections in 1791, 5 crates in 1794, and more than 40 crates in 1799. Some material might have been incorporated in the Madrid herbarium. Only later, a small herbarium collection of 142 sheets was found in Madrid herbarium (Gicklhorn 1965). A part of this collection is well preserved and identified, the other is without localities and poorly preserved.

The only larger portion of the Haenke’s original collection that is known today are specimens that Haenke sent in 1794 to Hiecke, Ziencke & Co. in Cádiz, the compatriot company that dealt with Bohemian glass. Six crates contained 84 herbarium bundles with about 15,000 plants and some ethnographical collection, the seventh crate contained a collection of shells. Unfortunately, the crates remained in a storehouse for over 23 years and many specimens became moldy and the paper folders fell apart. When Hiecke & Co. learned about Haenke’s death, they had the crates examined by the German naturalist Joseph Helmich, who picked out the damaged specimens and placed them in new paper folders. The crates were then shipped to the company’s other branch in Hamburg.

The Society of the Czech National Museum, especially its president, Count Kašpar Sternberg, started to deal with the Hiecke, Ziecke & Co. after they were notified about the collection, probably either by the mayor of the town Litoměřice (under which district Haenke’s birth place Chřibská belonged) or by Prof. Mikan jr. After the evaluation of Haenke’s collection by German botanist Ignatz Tausch, the Society bought the collection in 1821 for 655 zl., which was about only half of the shipping and storage fees Haenke would have owed to the company.

The whole collection was first deposited in Count Sternberg’s home. In the winter of 1821-1822, Count Sternberg was transcribing localities, later with the help of Karel Bořivoj Presl. According to Presl (1828), Haenke’s herbarium contained about 4,000 species. In 1825 Haenke’s herbarium was transferred to five specially made cabinets.

At the meeting of the Provisional Directorship of the Czech National Museum on the 9th of March 1822 Count Kašpar Sternberg proposed that the specimens of new and rare plants were studied and published as Reliquiae Haenkeanae seu Descriptiones et Icones Plantarum in Amaerica Meridionali et Boreali, in insulis Philippinis et Marianis collegit Thaddaeus Haenke. Karel Bořivoj Presl was appointed an editor of this work. Reliquiae Haenkeanae were scheduled to have 20 issues, but only 7 of them were published. The work ceased to appear in 1835 for lack of financial support and only a part of Haenke’s collection was covered. K.B. Presl continued to publish results of his study of Haenke’s material in other works, such as Symbolae Botanicae (1832-1835), Botanische Bemerkungen (1844), Epimeliae Botanicae (1849). Many other species that could not be published in then defunct Reliquiae Haenkeanae were given to study to A. P. de Candolle who included them in his Prodromus systematis regnae vegetabilis in 1830-1837 with a remark "visa sicca in herb. Haenke a clar. Sternberg communicato." Numerous specimens designated by De Candolle as types are deposited in the herbarium of the National Museum in Prague (PR).

Although Haenke’s collection was discovered and purchased by the Czech National Museum, a substantial part of it ended up in the Prague University herbarium (now the herbarium of the Charles University in Prague, PRC). Karel B. Presl was the custodian of botanical collections in the Museum from February 5, 1823 to August 6, 1846, but since 1832 he was also an external professor, and since 1838 an ordinary professor of natural history at Prague University. At the time when K.B. Presl worked in both institutions, he took the material he worked on to the university and later also to his home in Betlém Street. There is even a document in which A.J. Corda, custodian of the zoological collections in the National Museum, accused K.B. Presl of misappropriation of the museum’s herbarium. Presl’s excuse was that he was bringing the material he worked on to study at the university, because his office there was more convenient than the one in Sternberg’s palace. After Presl’s death, however, his herbarium was offered for sale in Botanische Zeitung (December 14, 1855) and in Lotos (January 1856), citing 205 fascicles with 30,000 specimens in the former advertisement, and 28,000 in the latter. Besides the Presl’s own collections in the offer were listed collections by Haenke, Helfer, Sieber, Ecklon & Zeyher, and Cuming & Drege - all the collectors whose specimens the Museum either bought or received as a gift. It is most probable that the University bought Presl’s herbarium from his widow.

Sets of duplicates that documented species treated in Reliquiae Haenkeanae were being selected by K.B. Presl simultaneously with the preparation of the work for print. These surplus specimens were offered for sale as duplicates to botanical institutions abroad. According to the last Index Collectorum, specimens collected by Haenke are in quite a few herbaria of Europe and America. One of them is the Naturwissenschaftsmuseum in Vienna (W), where they have historical records of purchase of 537 species. According to Count Sternberg’s letters, Haenke’s duplicates are also in Lambert’s herbarium that was mostly sold off and its largest part ended up in the Kew Herbarium (K). Other specimens are in De Candolle’s herbarium in Genève (G) and Mayer & Bartling’s collection in Göttingen (GOET). In Munich (M) Haenke’s herbarium received about 700 specimens that came there most probably towards the end of the Malaspina expedition. This collection was obtained from the Spanish hygrographer Felipe Bauzá, who took part in the Malaspina expedition and who mysteriously acquired that collection. A small collection of 121 grasses described by J.S. Presl is in Bernhardi’s collection in the Missouri Botanical Garden in Saint Louis (MO).

According to Dr. Domingo Madulid (PNH – pers. comm. to A. Ceska), there are over 20 herbaria where you can find Haenke’s specimens: Berlin (B), Brussels (BR), Cambridge (H), Chicago (F), Claremont (POM), Geneva (G), Geneva (G-DC), Göttingen (GOET), Kew (K), Kiel (KIEL), Leiden (L), Leningrad (LE), London (BM), Madrid (MA), Manila (PNH - destroyed during World War II), Arnold Herbarium, Harvard University (A), Munich (M - destroyed during World War II), New York (NY), Prague (PR), Prague - Charles University (PRC), Missouri (MO), Viena (W) and Washington (LCU). [Dr. W.A. Weber also saw Haenke’s material in Pullman - WS. - AC]

What is the state of Haenke’s collections in Prague? In the National Museum Herbarium (PR), for several decades Haenke’s specimens have been systematically pulled from the general collection and placed in the Haenke section. The type collection presently contain 92 types out of 122 pteridophytes described by Presl in the Reliquiae Haenkeanae and 560 types out of 616 newly described angiosperms. Identification and selection of the authentic Haenke material in the Charles University Herbarium (PRC) is less consistent and most of Haenke’s material is scattered in the main herbarium collection. Since either of these two herbaria can contain original Haenke specimens, botanists who want to select a lectotype of taxa described from Haenke’s collections should consult both PR and PRC herbaria. Both herbaria share the information about requests of Haenke’s material and when botanists ask one or the other institution, curators of both herbaria are searching for the requested specimens.

Type material of taxa based on Haenke’s collections is often requested on loan. Since these collections are extremely valuable, both PR and PRC herbaria restrict loans of these specimens. In order to help botanists who want to study this material, the Czech Grant Agency supported a three-year project on "Tropical plant diversity in Czech herbaria - national heritage of world importance: collections of Thaddaeus Haenke, Karel Bořivoj Presl, and Karel Domin."

With regard to Haenke’s material this project will

  1. inventory all Haenke’s specimens deposited in Prague herbaria (PR and PRC) and create a web site with the index to these specimens;
  2. give the specimens the best curatorial care;
  3. create an image data base of specimens and make it available on electronic media.


De Candolle, A. 1830-1837.
Prodromus systematis naturalis regni vegetabilis. Paris.
Gicklhorn, R. 1965.
Unbekannte botanische und zoologische Forschungsergebnisse von Th. Haenke. Verh. zool.-bot. Ges., Wien 103/104: 213-222.
Kohl, F. 1911.
Tadeáš Haenke, jeho Ĺľivot, dĂ­lo a listy ze zámoĹ™skĂ˝ch krajin. Ceská Akademie Císare Frantiska Josefa pro Vedy, Slovesnost a Umení. Praha. [Tadeáš Haenke, his life, work, and letters from overseas.]
Kuhnel, J. 1939.
Thaddaeus Haenke, Leben und Leistung eines sudetendeutschen Naturforschers. Haida.
Presl, C.B. 1825-1835.
Reliquiae Haenkeanae seu descriptiones et icones plantarum, quas in America meridionali et boreali, in insulis Philippinis et Marianis collegit Thaddaeus Haenke, Philosophiae Doctor, Phytographus regis Hispaniae. Prague.
Presl, C.B. 1828.
Das Haenke’sche Herbarium in böhmischen Museum. Monatschr. Ges. Vaterl. Mus. Böhmen 2: 161-168.
Skocdopolová, B. 1996.
Historie herbářů Tadeáše Haenkeho a jejich zpracování v Preslově díle . [History of Herbarium Thaddaeus Haenke and its description in Presl’s Reliquiae haenkeanae.] Zpr. Čes. Bot. Společ., Praha 30: 161-166. (In Czech, Engl. summ.)


From: Adolf Ceska []

1) European taxa described by Tadeáš Haenke

2) Western North American taxa described from the specimens collected by Haenke

Note: In this list I included only those names that are used today and some well known synonyms (e.g., Carex physocarpa, Elymus hirsutus, Zauschneria californica). I am sure that this list is not complete and I would greatly appreciate to hear from you, if you have some additional names. - AC

3) Eponyms – names of taxa named after Tadeáš Haenke

There were four genera named after Haenke as Haenkea, unfortunately, none of these names is now in use. Haenkea F.W. Schmidt 1793 (Rutaceae) was rejected against the younger name Adenadra Willd. 1809. Three other generic names, Haenkea Ruiz & Pav. 1794 (Celastracea), Haenkea Ruiz & Pav. 1802 (Olacaceae), and Haenkea Salisb. 1796 (Portulaceae) are illegitimate names, since they are younger homonyms of the rejected name Haenkea F.W. Schmidt 1793.

The Index Kewensis (searched using International Plant Name Index Query) lists over 150 species named after Tadeáš Haenke.

The following databases were used to search the names in this note: International Plant Name Index Query ( and W3 TROPICOS ( Additional searches were done in the CD-ROM version of the Flora Europaea (see BEN # 272). I would like to thank Dr. Jim Solomon (MBOT) for specialized searches he did for this note in W3 TROPICOS.


I would like to thank Prof. D. C. Cutter and Prof. W. A. Weber for their critical review of these two BEN issues, and Ms. Jan Kirkby for her help with editing these issues. I would also like to thank Ms. Sandra Thomson, who was looking for Haenke in the streets of Cochabamba. - AC

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